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

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3 2013 4:35 p.m. MDT

“I’m excited about the region. I think we should be able to be competitive every game, and beat some of those teams. I don’t say that cocky, but I believe we have the talent and the kids have been working hard enough if they keep it up we’ll be in a position to do that,” said Nielsen.

Deseret News projections for 2A South football teams in 2013

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. SAN JUAN: By San Juan standards, there’s a serious shortage of returning varsity experience. However, year after year, this program never rebuilds — it reloads — and many figure that will be the case again this year. What little experience San Juan does return is on the offensive line. Chase Richmond, Ben Brewer and Braydon Giddings are all returning starters. Senior Terrence Tate takes over at quarterback for the Broncos, a very smart and unselfish player. Senior Jens Grover could be poised for a breakout year. Not only will he start at fullback, but he’ll be the leader of the defense at linebacker. Sophomore RB/LB Bronze Eldredge is a star in waiting, a player colleges are already taking notice of. 2012 RECORD: 11-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Manti in 2A championship.

2. BEAVER: Coming off an 8-3 season, their best record since 2002, the Beavers have some question marks if they hope to duplicate the success they enjoyed in 2012. That’s particularly the case on the offensive line, where the Beavers figure to be very young. Fortunately for coach Steve Hutchings, he has some experience at the skill positions. Senior fullback Jesse McMullin is back after rushing for 1,061 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. Senior Bailey Bradshaw also returns after adding 389 yards. Michael Roberts started half the season last year at QB, and he’s also returning. Defensively, Beaver has holes to fill on the defensive line but should be tough at linebacker and defensive back. 2012 RECORD: 8-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Manti in 2A quarterfinals.

3. GRAND: The Red Devils return seven starters on offense and six on defense, and are certainly capable of competing with the top teams in 2A. Seniors Jacob Francis, Koi Cook and Edgar Gomez were Deseret News first-team all-staters last year. Francis will lead the way at QB, while Cook is a standout running back and Gomez is dominant on both sides of the line. Defensively, Cook led the team with 118 tackles a year ago, and he’ll again be the heart of the defense. In general, the coaching staff is thrilled with the leadership from the senior class, and believes the team will benefit from last year’s semifinal run. Big things are also expected of junior receiver Kobe Sobremesana. 2012 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Manti in 2A semifinals.

4. SOUTH SEVIER: With returning experience on the O-line and quarterback, depth at running back and a solid core of returning defensive starters, fourth-year coach Weston Zabriskie is hopeful this could be the breakthrough year he’s been waiting for. Offensively, four-year starter Wyatt Anderson and three-year starter Wyatt Hansen anchor what could be a strong offensive unit. Trevor Jones is back at QB after passing for 1,252 yards and 10 TDs. Riley Blackham could emerge as the Rams’ top running threat, but Zabriskie believes there’s three or four other guys ready to contribute. Defensively, MaCalin Mitchell will anchor a strong linebacking corps, while Anderson and Hansen will anchor the D-line. 2012 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Millard in 2A first round.

5. ENTERPRISE: There seems to be a pretty clear-cut top four in the 2A South region, but after that it will be a dogfight for playoff seeding, and Enterprise figures to be right in the thick of it under second-year coach Malin Williams. After starting last season 3-0, Enterprise lost its last six games to miss the playoffs. With six starters returning, the Wolves hope the lumps from a year ago pay off this fall. The team will lean heavily offensively on Kanton Vause and Dustin Tullis at running back, along with Dallin Holt at tight end. Tullis was Enterprise’s second-leading rusher a year ago. 2012 RECORD: 3-6. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.