High school football: Stansbury, Juan Diego the class of new 3AA North region

Published: Friday, Aug. 9 2013 10:15 p.m. MDT

Football 3A Quarterfinal Football between Hurricane and Juan Diego, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

MONDAY: Region 8 Preview

Heading into the 2013 high school football season, on paper there’s not a region more unbalanced in the entire state than the newly created 3AA North region.

The gap between the top and the bottom is staggering to say the least.

Juan Diego and Stansbury are the unquestioned class of the region. The teams combined for a 23-2 record last season, with their lone losses each coming to eventual state champion Dixie.

“Juan Diego and Stansbury are going to give you all they can handle,” said Bear River coach Chris Wise.

For reigning Region 11 champion Stansbury, Utah State commit Chase Christiansen is one of the elite athletes in 3AA. As a junior last year the option quarterback rushed for 963 yards and 19 TDs. Defensively he added 65 tackles at linebacker.

He’s one of eight returning starters on each side of the ball, a big reason the Stallions are a legitimate 3AA state title contender.

“We’re fast; we’re big; it’s a bunch of good kids — might be the best bunch we’ve had,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen. “Fifth year this school is open and this is probably the best team we’ve had so far. But, we haven’t played any games yet either.”

The bread and butter of defending Region 10 champion Juan Diego will be the 1-2 punch of Chase Williams and Jessie Springer, who each had more than a 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns a year ago.

“We’re kind of old school. You read all of these other reports and everybody is doing spread and everything else,” said Juan Diego coach John Colosimo. “Our quarterback will be under center and we’re going to hand it off a lot. We plan to give (Williams and Springer) lots of carries, get them lathered up, and hopefully repeat the success they had last year.”

Last season they combined for a staggering 324 carries.

After the big two in 3AA North, there’s a moderate drop off to Bear River, and then on paper it’s a staggering drop to the remaining four teams.

Bear River is coming off a respectable 7-5 season and a 3A quarterfinal appearance, and has four returning starters on the offensive line to potentially challenge Juan Diego and Stansbury at the top of the region. The Bears did lose, however, to Stansbury last season in region play 37-18.

“We’ve got some really good senior leadership, and that’s what you have to gauge it on,” said Wise. “I know I sound like a broken record, but up there it’s about staying healthy. We’re really working hard in the weight room and hopefully we can stay healthy that way because we don’t have a whole lot of depth.”

As for the rest of the region, their combined record in 2012 was 3-35. None expect similar mediocrity in 2013.

Park City and Ben Lomond have new coaches and are confident in having bounce-back seasons, whereas Tooele is optimistic under third-year coach Kyle Brady and Uintah feels the same way with second-year coach Cody Reutzel.

If nothing else, the teams are guaranteed to combine for six victories with all the crossover region games.

Park City is turning the program over to Mike Shepherd, who previously coached the Miners to a 53-28 record from 1998 to 2004. He believes a change in attitude is necessary to get the program back to respectability.

“I think the biggest thing is the kids need to believe that being a part of our program is something that is good for them — that they’re going to enjoy,” said Shepherd. “I do believe that the kids we have out here do feel that way and believe that.”

A similar thing is happening in Vernal, where Uintah hasn’t won a playoff game in 11 years.