Note: Grand County finished with a 7-4 overall record in 2012 and tied for second place in 2A South with a 5-2 record. It lost to Manti 58-15 in the 2A semifinals.
MOAB — The Grand County football team is sitting in a pretty good position.
Not only are the Red Devils coming off a year that saw them win five more games than they had the previous season and advance to the semifinals, but they also have many of their primary contributors from a year ago back on the gridiron.
On top of that, the cohesive group is ready to give their all for the sake of the team.
“This group is a tight-knit family,” said assistant coach Ron Dolphin, who has coached the upperclassmen since they were in elementary school.
“They all care about each other; they are all leaders; they are all excited when somebody does something good,” Dolphin continued. “They all want what’s best for the team — it’s not about the stat.”
The all-for-one attitude was especially visible last season when quarterback and defensive back Jacob Francis was sidelined for a few games due to injury and Koi Cook, an all-purpose athlete who was No. 14 on the Deseret News top 20 prep football players list, stepped in to fill the hole.
That versatility is common across the Red Devils roster, and is not limited only to football.
“We spread the Moab kids thin,” Dolphin said, adding that many of the boys on the team are involved in multiple sports, student government, the school musical, and working jobs.
“Everyone is doing 50 different things. They are involved in everything,” Dolphin said. “It is amazing what we get out of these kids.”
That same versatility allows the team to spread its weapons around the field.
A year ago, Francis, now a senior, had 988 passing yards, 765 rushing yards, 16 total touchdowns, 44 tackles, two interceptions, two field goals and 24 PATs. Cook added 1,162 more offensive yards, 14 scores, a team-high 129 tackles and three interceptions.
“We have a lot of guys who can attack,” coach Dolphin said. “(Opponents) can’t just key in on one kid this year; we will be able to keep the defense honest.”
The Red Devils boast three key returning full-time linemen in Edgar Gomez, Austin Day and David Bentley. They will lead a group of juniors — which includes Tanner White, Adam Flanders, Josh Harris and Charlie DeMars Conoly — who the coaching staff expects to make a big impact.
“We have greater depth on the line,” Dolphin said, “which is something we missed last year.”
After watching this group of juniors and seniors grow up, the coach feels the greatest growth he has seen is in their size.
“They have always been a solid group of kids,” he said. “They have turned into a great group of young men. We are excited to see what they can do.”
Grand County kicks off with three straight home games before hitting the road in the second week of September. Dolphin said that, after the semifinal run last season, the coaching staff and their players are utilizing the experience but are avoiding getting “destination disease” and will take this season one game at a time.
“2A is pretty wide open. It’s anybody’s game,” he said. “We are striving to be there. We are working hard and hoping to have a little luck on our side when we meet the opportunity.”