A healthy Kade Carrigan will certainly help in that championship pursuit. The fullback rushed for 474 yards last season, but missed more than a month with a hip injury suffered against Bear River. He eventually returned for the quarterfinal game with Spanish Fork, but he was by no means 100 percent.
Grantsville is the only team from the old Region 11 that’s lumped in with the Trojans in the new 3A North region. Morgan was 3-1 against Grantsville over the past four seasons, and was 6-0 against all the other new 3A teams it faced the past four seasons.
That’s a big reason Morgan could have a bull’s-eye on its back all season.
Morgan Trojans at a glance
Coach: Kovi Christiansen is entering his seventh season as Morgan’s head coach with a career coaching record of 45-24. He’s a graduate of Lovell High in Wyoming.
(5 returning starters; Double Wing-T offense)
Kyle Stapley is a two-year starter on the offensive line, but he’ll be surrounded by varsity rookies this year as Morgan breaks in four new starters around him. How quickly the new unit gels 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, but he’s been pushed by junior transfer Tyler Kelsey. How well Kelsey progresses this summer may ultimately determine if Morgan’s coaching staff feels confident enough to start Saunders on defense too.
(6 returning starters)
With four of its leading tacklers back from last season, it’s easy to see why coach Christiansen is excited about this year's group. Collectively they’re a bunch of “short, quick kids,” but their coach hopes that makes them better tacklers because they’re low to the ground. Carrigan and Christian Elton are both back at the hybrid linebacker/safety positions, while Stapley will help anchor the defensive line. Murdock is a returning starter at safety.
Coaches preseason 3A North straw poll: First
Deseret News 3A North prediction: First
Bottom line: A year ago, huge question marks on the offensive line would’ve rendered Morgan a middle-of-the pack 3A team. With realignment, and the reality of teams like Juan Diego, Hurricane, Spanish Fork and Desert Hills out of the mix, suddenly it’s the focal point of state championship conversations. Even though the Trojans haven’t won a state title since 1997, they’ve certainly been an upper-tier 3A team the past decade, and it’s no surprise that they’re the team to beat in the new 3A.
Morgan coaching history
2007-current — Kovi Christiansen (45-24)
1997-2006 — Renn Hoopes (81-33)
1994-1996 — Mike Grajek (19-10)
1990-1993 — Blaine Monkres (32-9)
1988-1989 — Steve Coburn (13-6)
1985-1987 — Jan Smith (113-59-1)
1984 — Dave Christiansen (5-4)
1972-1983 — Jan Smith (113-59-1)
1971 — Richard Rodak (3-6-1)
1969-1970 — Brent Thorne (9-11)
1967-1968 — Joe Dilworth (11-7-1)
1962-1966 — Bob Wilson (15-24)
1961 — Bob Wilson/Don Johnson (2-6)
1958-1960 — Don Johnson/Don Guest (7-11-1)
1957 — Jack Raymond (0-6)
1950-1956 — Kent Murdock (12-19-1)
1949 — Tally Stevens (3-3-1)
1947-1948 — Garth Bellston (10-3-4)
1946 — Francis Porter (5-4-1)
1941-1945 — Fred Bohman (8-22-1)
1939-1940 — Bill Cowley (10-2-2)
1929-1938 — Wes Schwab (19-24-3)
1928 — I.L. Peterson (1-2-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Lantzen Toomer, Specialist
2011 — Boston Saunders, DL
2010 — Tad Sargent, RB
2009 — Jordan Wamsley, SP
2008 — Jake Kinsey, DB
2008 — Chad Crossley, OL
2005 — Alan Tucker, QB
2005 — Mike Rose, DB
2004 — Derek Wiscombe, DB
2003 — Jeff Manning, RB
2003 — Blake Preece, OL
2003 — Joe Wiscombe, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Follow Deseret News prep editor James Edward on Twitter @DNewsPreps