High school football: Box Elder Bees 2013 preview

Published: Sunday, Aug. 18 2013 12:35 p.m. MDT

Box Elder High football preview

BRIGHAM CITY — Purple Pride isn't something you can pick up at the supermarket or hardware store, and you can't drive it off the showroom floor or order it online, either.

Nope, Purple Pride is a passion that you're either born with, or something you quickly acquire by growing up in this great old farming community in Box Elder County.

And this year, the Box Elder High School football team aims to give the folks up here something to be plenty proud about.

The Bees begin their 2013 season Friday against a strong Syracuse squad that was a 5A finalist last year. The Titans are one of three Region 1 teams Box Elder will face in an ambitious preseason schedule that the Bees hope will help prepare them for a run at the Region 5 title and a strong postseason showing.

And it all starts with an ample helping of Purple Pride, harkening back to the school colors and the way their loyal fans feel about their tradition-rich program.

"These kids are born bleeding purple," said Box Elder coach Robbie Gunter. "In a lot of communities throughout the state, kids might have some different options on where they want to attend high school. But in this community, it seems like you're born to be a Bee.

"These kids up here grow up being friends and neighbors with each other — they really like each other — and that's one of the many great things about this community."

Indeed, that tight-knit unity and camaraderie will help pull the Bees together and get them through some tough times, which inevitably hit every prep program from time to time. This year's team possesses superior experience at several positions, and some promising new faces at other spots.

Leading the way are a couple of four-year starters at linebacker, Shad Watson and Breckin Gunter, who have been through the wars for the last three years and lend tremendous leadership and stability to the program. Watson is also a returning starter at quarterback, and Coach Gunter is impressed with the player and person that Watson's become.

"He's a big, strong kid with a great arm, and he's a good leader for us," the Bees coach said. "He'll get our kids to compete together as a team."

Junior Connor Udy and sophomore Jarom Mecham will back up Watson at quarterback.

Breckin Gunter not only joins Watson as a four-year starter at linebacker, but he is also a returning starter at fullback and, with his size, strength and speed, is a load to try and bring down for opposing defenders.

Joining them in the backfield is another senior returning starter, Matt Williams, at running back, with junior Riley Burt backing him up. Senior Robbie Gathercole and junior Casey Stevens will back up Gunter at fullback.

Jayk Brooks, another senior, is the returning starter at slotback, where Burt and Williams will also see action. The team's top wide receivers will be senior Teegan Hubbard and junior Luis Pena.

On the interior offensive line, junior Zak Kaleikini will start at center after playing the offensive guard and tackle spots last season. Talan Carr, a senior, will back him up.

The starting guards will be senior Luke Daley, another returning starter, and senior Schafer Lange, while senior Cordon Barker will start at one tackle position, with senior Bent Bryan and junior Cooper Parson battling for the other tackle spot.

And promising sophomore Darius McFarland gets the call at tight end, where senior Caleb Thomson is also hankering for some playing time.

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