Note: Juan Diego finished with a 12-1 record in 2012 and a 5-0 mark in Region 10. It lost to Dixie 14-13 in the 3A semifinals.
DRAPER — Scan the Juan Diego roster, and assuredly the No. 2 is nowhere to be found. Yet the number resides on the hill resting behind the end zone. It’s stickered on the back of every helmet, and it’s tattooed on several players' shoulders with wings stemming to represent the form of an angel.
The No. 2 is certainly not forgotten. Before the start of last season, Adam Colosimo — No. 2 in the program — was tragically killed. Although the story has been recounted numerous times, the loss of a friend and teammate took an emotional toll on the program.
“It was such an unusual year last year,” Juan Diego coach and Adam’s uncle John Colosimo said.
After reeling off 12 straight wins, in the snow-covered 3A semifinals last November, Juan Diego was shockingly upended after a missed PAT allowed Dixie to capture a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. The next two possessions, the Soaring Eagle punted, and the Flyers milked the final 5:43 seconds on their way to the state championship.
“I think we got to that point and I think we were just so emotionally drained that it was almost a relief to lose that game,” Colosimo said. “I hate to say it that way, (but) the kids were so wound up and so tight and wearing their emotions on their sleeves — we don’t even talk about it. Dixie came up and they beat us. I don’t think there’s any lingering thoughts that we let anybody down.”
For running back Jessie Springer, the unexpected loss serves as a motivation to complete the unfinished job.
“There’s so many mistakes that we had — just little things that changed the game,” Springer said. “Those stupid mental errors and physical mistakes we shouldn’t of had. We all still feel that, definitely. It gives us motivation to come out here and work and get better.”
If the loss that spoiled its perfect season wasn’t enough, the school's realignment into the 3AA classification surely adds to the fire. Despite winning 10 consecutive region championships, Juan Diego isn’t favored in the 3AA North.
“It’s on the radar for me, I don’t know about my teammates, but it motivates me a lot,” Juan Diego quarterback Cole Nelson said about Stansbury’s projection as the top seed. “It gives me a little bit more to work for and push my teammates harder so we can get another region championship.”
Juan Diego Soaring Eagle at a glance
Coach: John Colosimo will pace the sidelines at Juan Diego for the 14th straight season. During that time period he’s amassed an astonishing 129-29 record. Entering his 26th year in coaching, he has an overall record of 174-104. Colosimo is a graduate of Judge Memorial High and the University of Utah.
(Five returning starters; triple-option offense)
Juan Diego may not be fashionable, but it's certainly effective on offense.
“We’re kind of old school — you read all these other reports and everybody is doing spread and everything else,” Colosimo said. “Our quarterback will be under center and we’re going to hand it off a lot. We can plan to give (Chase Williams and Springer) lots of carries, get them lathered up, and hopefully repeat the success they had last year.”
Williams, the speedster, ran for 1,266 yards and 17 touchdowns while Springer, the bruiser, added 1,242 total yards and 11 scores. Add quarterback Cole Nelson to the equation, and the Soaring Eagle advertise the deepest backfield in the 3AA classification.
Nelson, a left-handed gunner, started two games last season during incumbent starter Nick Markosian’s period of injury. In that time he was extremely efficient — completing 76 percent of his pass attempts for 397 yards and three touchdowns.
Three-year starting offensive lineman Harry Jones moves to the tight end position with the security of a strong group up front. Colosimo highlighted Jacob Nelson, who he referred to as a “mountain man” to dictate the push.
(Five returning starters)
Last season, Juan Diego had two college-ready linebackers in Dakota Cox and Walter Kauhaahaa. This year, the safeties inherit the honor.
Nelson had 42 tackles and five interceptions, including one pick-six. He also added three touchdowns in the return game, an area Colosimo is hesitant to allow Nelson to play considering his role at quarterback. He’s joined by Cameron Hansen, who had 47 tackles, in the defensive secondary.
Currently, four seniors are competing for the two starting corner positions.
“We have athletes at corner, but they’re just untested,” Colosimo said. “We just have to find the right two. We were (unsure) at the position last year, too, and we had a couple kids step up and did a great job. I’m hoping we get the same production out of whoever wins those two spots.”
Jones and Springer are set at linebacker, although Colosimo said, “If I could keep Jesse off that because of his role as a big time running back for us, I’d try and get him off that.”
Colosimo also pinpointed Seimisi Bloomfield on the defensive line, who he said “has looked pretty sharp for us.”
Coaches preseason 3AA North straw poll: First
Deseret News 3AA North prediction: Second
Bottom line: Juan Diego has won 10 consecutive region titles, and there isn’t any reason why that streak can’t be extended to 11 this season. It’ll definitely be more difficult than in years past, especially with a talented Stansbury team looming in the eighth week of the season. The Soaring Eagle, obviously, are serious contenders to win the first 3AA class state championship, and believing otherwise is foolish. Expect the same old offense, the same old defense and the same old results from Juan Diego this season.
Juan Diego coaching history
2000-current — John Colosimo (129-29)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2010 — Taylor Cassita, LB
2008 — Jamie Markosian, RB/DT
2004 — Marquis Wilson, WR
2002 — Chad Vaculin, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Zach Schekel, OL
2012 — Dakota Cox, LB
2012 — Walter Kauhaahaa, LB
2011 — Jared McCauley, OL
2011 — Ryan McCauley, DL
2011 — Dakota Cox, LB
2010 — Oliver Weight, DB
2010 — Eric Heinz, TE
2010 — Jalin Ames, OL
2009 — Cody Stevenson, QB
2009 — Christian Ika, OL/DL
2009 — Tana Vea, RB/DB
2009 — Keegan Andersen, WR/DB
2009 — Frank Sutera, DB
2009 — Junior Latu, DL
2009 — Trevor McFalls, TE/DL
2008 — Brian May, QB
2008 — Tyler Morales, RB
2008 — Tyler Bauman, TE
2008 — Jacob Doughty, LB
2007 — Vince Romero, LB
2006 — Tom Schweiger, DL
2006 — Mychal Robinson, DB
2004 — Zack Horrocks, RB
2004 — Trevor Wright, DL
2004 — Garry Hrechkosy, DL
2004 — Brian Bauman, LB
2003 — Chad Vaculin, QB
2003 — Marquis Wilson, WR
2003 — Chris Heffernan, OL
2003 — Doug VanCouwenberghe, OL
2003 — Tevita Kefu, TE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.