High school football: Perennial power San Juan the cream of the 2A South crop again

Published: Sunday, Aug. 4 2013 4:45 p.m. MDT

Utah High School 2A Football championship game between San Juan and Manti, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

Coming TUESDAY: 2A North Preview

Year in and year out, San Juan coach Monty Lee tries to downplay the success and shortcomings of the previous season.

“We try to emphasize and help these kids realize that this is their year. They get to create their own identity. This is their year and their team,” said Lee.

That’s particularly the case this season. Most of San Juan’s projected starters were spectators on the sidelines as Manti booted a 53-yard field goal in overtime to claim last year’s 2A state title over the Broncos. Though the loss still stung, those underclassmen knew there was always next year.

That 2013 season has finally arrived, and with two-time state champion Manti now in 3A, San Juan’s tradition of excellence makes it the clear-cut favorite in 2A.

In the 2A South region, that separation is even greater.

San Juan heads into the season on a 27-game winning streak against the other six teams in the 2A South region. Its last loss to either Beaver, Grand, South Sevier, Enterprise, Parowan or North Sevier was a 26-12 setback to Grand on Aug. 18, 2006.

The Broncos are 70-10 since that loss, including an 8-0 record against Grand, a 7-0 record against South Sevier, a 5-0 record against Beaver and a combined 7-0 record against Enterprise, Parowan and North Sevier.

It went 5-0 against those six teams last year with an average margin of victory of 35 points.

“Obviously San Juan is the team that has the target on their back 'cause they do so well,” said Parowan coach Brigham Nielsen.

Even with only seven seniors this season, and just three returning starters, San Juan still has that target. Lee believes his players are mature enough to handle the expectations.

“They’re wanting their turn. They’ve waited for a chance to show what they can do. It’s kind of fun to coach these kids who are really excited, and who really wanted to work,” said Lee.

Heading into the 2013 season, the 2A South region appears to be a three-tier league. San Juan is deservedly alone at the top tier by virtue of its 27-game winning streak against the rest of the region. The second tier includes Beaver, South Sevier and Grand, all capable of finishing second and perhaps upsetting inexperienced San Juan in a perfect scenario.

Grand returns three first-team all-staters from last year’s 2A semifinal team in Koi Cook, Jacob Francis and Edgar Gomez.

Beaver will lean heavily on returning 1,000-yard rusher Jesse McMullin, while South Sevier will be led by returning all-stater Wyatt Anderson on the offensive and defensive line.

“A solid core returning on defense should help the program take the next step. We’re hoping to get a better playoff seed and compete for a region title,” said South Sevier coach Weston Zabriskie.

The bottom tier includes Enterprise, Parowan and North Sevier, three teams that were discussed as potentially being small enough to drop into 1A in the latest UHSAA realignment.

Enterprise, Parowan and North Sevier went a combined 4-23 last year, but all enter the year with loftier ambitions.

North Sevier returns the bulk of its starters, and new coach Chuck Woodhouse believes a shift to the spread offense will make the Wolves much more competitive.

Parowan also returns the bulk of its starters, and Nielsen expects much more from his team in his second year as head coach.

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