High school football: Tougher Juab hoping to dethrone Manti in 3A South
Tom Smart, Deseret News
A year later, Oct. 11 still resonates with the Juab football program.
That’s the night Manti made a mockery of Juab’s run defense, the night Juab lost the region title, and the night that forced Juab’s coaching staff to reassess some aspects of the program.
Manti rushed for 609 yards in the region-clinching 41-33 victory over Juab, with senior Kamren Fowles going off for 411 yards. From a team and individual standpoint, they’re the fourth-best marks in state history.
A month after Manti ran circles around Juab, eventual state champion Judge did the same thing in a 41-20 semifinal victory.
“There’s some things we’ve changed up this year just because when we looked at what we were doing and what we wanted for the result — and it’s probably my fault — I’m not sure we were doing enough to get to that level that we need to,” said Juab coach Mike Bowring.
“When you play a team like Judge and some of those teams that are big, physical, fast, you’ve got to get stronger, faster and bigger. So we’re trying to focus on those things we can control and try and put these kids in a better situation.”
The Wasps have never won a state championship, but last year’s first semifinal appearance since 2008 gave them a glimpse of what it might take to get there.
If it’s ever going to happen, this might be the year. Quarterback Nick Robins, an SUU commit, is poised for a huge season with four returning offensive linemen in front of him.
Looking back on that defining October loss last year, Robins actually had a fantastic night for the Wasps throwing for 339 yards and five touchdowns. That could be the norm from Robins this year, and if Juab’s retooled defense rises to the challenge, it could dethrone Manti for the 3A South region title.
Manti coach Cole Meacham doesn’t discount the consensus either.
“I think Juab is going to be pretty good. I think it’s going to be pretty tight after Juab, but I think Juab is definitely the team to beat,” he said.
With most of the preseason attention in 3A South being directed at Juab, last year’s state runner-up Manti is quietly going about its business. It has won region titles in four of the past five years, and despite few returning starters, don’t expect much of a drop-off.
“We’ve got to develop some young kids. Through the preseason some kids are going to have to grow up, but we feel pretty good,” said Meacham.
While most agree Juab and Manti are the front-runners in 3A South, after that it’s a shrug of the shoulders. The other two teams who qualified for the playoffs last season — North Sanpete and Richfield — both have new head coaches in 2014 and with them comes uncertainty.
As for Delta and Canyon View, this is the second year with their current head coaches and both expect to be much more competitive.
Delta is particularly hungry after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1974.
“That left a sour taste in our mouth and I think we’re all ready to come back and show them what we can do,” said Delta quarterback Bracken Lovell.
THURSDAY: 3A North Preview
Deseret News projections for 3A South football teams in 2014
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)
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