High school football preview: Teams in new 3A North are loaded with experience
Deseret News projections for 3A North football teams in 2013
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)
1. MORGAN: Kyle Stapley is a two-year starter on the offensive line, but he’ll be surrounded by varsity rookies as Morgan breaks in four new starters around him. How quickly the new unit jells may ultimately determine if Morgan stays at No. 1 throughout the season. Kade Carrigan is back at fullback, while Matt Murdock will see an increased workload in the backfield as well. Ben Saunders is a returning starter at quarterback. Defensively, Morgan returns four of its leading tacklers from a year ago, led by Carrigan and Christian Elton. 2012 RECORD: 7-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Spanish Fork in quarterfinals.
2. JUDGE: After losing to Morgan in the first round of the 3A playoffs last year, Judge has worked tirelessly this offseason in hopes of making more noise in the playoffs. With nine returning starters on offense and eight on defense, Judge is certainly capable of big things. Kaden Ellis is a returning starter at QB after leading the team in rushing (858 yards) and passing (826 yards). Running backs Mark and Max Barnett are also back after combining for 754 rushing yards and three TDs. Defensively, linebackers Braden Pelly and Max Barnett will be key, while defensive backs Sean McMininee and Michael Kearns begin the year with high expectations. 2012 RECORD: 5-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Morgan in first round.
3. GRANTSVILLE: Defense carried the Cowboys last year, and that will again be the case with eight starters returning from that top five scoring defense. Anchoring the group is Ky Fisher and Noah Mecham at linebacker. Coach Tony Cloward expects Jake Riding and Devin Adams to wreak havoc from their tackle positions too. Offensively all five offensive linemen will be new, but Nephi Meono is back at QB, while fullback Fisher is also back after racking up 16 TDs a year ago. The coaching staff is also counting on big things from Alec Anderson, Wyatt Smith and Alex Meono in the backfield. 2012 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Juan Diego in first round.
4. UNION: A year after averaging only 17 ppg, Union is banking on quality skill-position players and a switch to the run-and-shoot offense to improve that efficiency. Jordan Gurr is the lone returning offensive linemen, having started every game at center as a sophomore. Workhorse back Gavin Nielsen is back after leading the team in rushing yards last season, while Nic Smith also returns after leading the team with seven TDs in just five games. Defensively coach Matt Labrum is challenging his defense to force more turnovers, and a lot of that responsibility falls on defensive linemen Gurr and Paul Kaufusi. 2012 RECORD: 5-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Stansbury in first round.
5. EMERY: Any coach would be thrilled to have five returning starters on the offensive line, and that’s exactly what Emery has in 2013. Duncan Thomas and Zac West are the leaders of the group, while Derrick Dawes, Slayde Childs and Carson Healy are all really solid too. The Spartans averaged 35 points behind that offensive line last year, and new quarterback Bailey Faimalo hopes to continue that productivity this season. Emery must replace the bulk of its linebacking corps from a year ago, but with Dawes and Marco Mota, it has a good foundation to build from. 2012 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to San Juan in 2A quarterfinals.
6. CARBON: The Dinos are switching from a spread offense to a traditional offense, which coach Jeff Blanc believes more suits his team. Carbon returns seven starters on offense, which should help quarterback Jarod Lessar ease into his role as the new starter. The team’s leading rusher and receiver from a year ago graduated, but Zac Hathaway and Dominic Rondinelli will be counted on to fill that void. Defensively, Carbon just wasn’t that good last year, but with six returning starters there’s hope for improvement with Dallyn Mower, Kyle Barrett and Garrett Blanc among the defensive leaders. 2012 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
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