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

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

“That’s one thing that’s changed a little is we are starting to get some of our good athletes in the school to come out and play, and we’re keeping the ones who are good,” said Reutzel. “You can’t coach without talent. That’s kind of the first step, make a program the kids want to be around so we can get the kids out and keep them out.”

Tooele’s talent is young, and might be a year away from reaching its potential. Ben Lomond has a new coach with Aaron Dooley, its fourth new coach in four years.

Deseret News projections for 3AA North football teams in 2013

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. JUAN DIEGO: A year after losing in the semifinals, Juan Diego returns five starters on each side of the ball in hopes of getting back to the top of 3A after winning three straight titles from 2008 to 2010. Offensively it starts with running backs Chase Williams and Jessie Springer. The two combined for 2,508 rushing yards and 28 TDs last season. Cole Nelson takes over as quarterback for the Soaring Eagle after starting two games last year. Harry Jones and Jacob Nelson will also be key offensively. Defensively, safeties Nelson and Cameron Hansen could emerge as the leaders of the defense. Jones and Springer will anchor the linebacker positions. 2012 RECORD: 12-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Dixie in semifinals.

2. STANSBURY: The Stallions return eight starters on both sides of the ball from a team that lost one game last season. Offensively it starts with Chase Christiansen, a Utah State commit was can dominate at QB and linebacker. He’s not alone offensively, though. Zayne Anderson is an explosive running back who has an offer from Utah State too. Jesse Horowitz and Nick Mackay are powerful fullbacks who should excel behind a strong offensive line. Defensively, University of Utah commit Allan Havili is a beast on the defensive line and is arguably the toughest player to block in 3AA. 2012 RECORD: 11-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Dixie in quarterfinals.

3. BEAR RIVER: It all starts up front for the Bears, who return Justus Wise, Branson Fonnesbeck, Braden Pugsley and Carson Gibbs on the offensive line. The quartet should help ease the transition as Jardee Nessen takes over at QB. Colton Jensen was among the leading receivers in 3A last year with 754 yards on 39 receptions, and he’ll definitely be targeted more frequently this season as perhaps the best possession receiver in 3A. Defensively, Bear River graduated its four leading tacklers from a year ago, but there’s experience to absorb the absences. Taylor Lund is an outstanding outside linebacker for the Bears, while Pugsley will anchor one of the middle linebacker positions. The defensive line will be led by Jermaine Selman and Parker Lewis. 2012 RECORD: 7-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Desert Hills in quarterfinals.

4. PARK CITY: A year after giving up 443 points, Park City is turning to former coach Mike Shepherd to turn the program around. Shephard was previously a coach at Park City from 1998 to 2004. QB Ian Mortiz is back this season after starting as a sophomore, and he’ll be leading Park City’s new hybrid-fly offense. Alec Wing will be a key skill-position player on offense, but the offensive line is certainly a question mark with all newcomers. Defensively, the heart of the team will be returning starting linebacker Konnor Andersen. He’s a powerful run-stopper who had 90 tackles as a junior. Jonathan Hockman is a move-in from Washington who should be a nice addition at linebacker. 2012 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

5. UINTAH: It’s been 11 years since Uintah’s football team won a playoff game and four since it enjoyed a winning record. Second-year coach Cody Reutzel believes the necessary steps are being taken to change all that. With four returning starting O-linemen, and the return of a healthy Braxton Coonis at QB after he was limited to just three games last season, there’s reason to be excited. Realistically, the Utes have no place to go but up after finishing in the bottom five in 3A last year with 15 points per game. Depth on the defensive line and a strong linebacking corps should help as well. It starts with Dylan Hanks, an awesome middle linebacker who has a knack for making plays instinctively. He led the team with 83 tackles last season. 2012 RECORD: 1-8. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

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