High school football: Programs are on the rise in 3AA North region

Published: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 9:40 p.m. MDT

“Every year Juan Diego reloads, but they’ve set a standard and everybody else needs to reach that standard. It’s good for our kids to see that and see there’s something to reach for,” said Brady.

Juan Diego coach John Colosimo, however, said his depth is lower than it's been in a while and stressed that his kids can’t afford to take anything for granted.

“The region will be competitive and I hope we can get that first-round bye, but we will not be as dominant as past years and we could slip to third, fourth and maybe even fifth if things do not fall our way,” said Colosimo.

MONDAY: Region 8 Preview

Deseret News projections for 3AA North football teams in 2014

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. JUAN DIEGO: The Soaring Eagle have won 11 straight region champions, and until someone knocks them off that perch coach John Colosimo’s team is again the favorite. The lone returning starters offensively are Andrew Markosian and Adam Murray on the O-line. Gabe Colosimo shifts from receiver to QB, and is capable of beating defenses with his arm or feet. Carter Campbell has backed up two good running backs the past two years, but the senior will get a chance to step out of that shadow. Fellow senior Kenzy Sanchez will also get plenty of carries this year. Markosian (DL), Campbell (LB) and Sanchez (CB) will all be counted on defensively as well. 2013 RECORD: 11-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Pine View 48-42 in semifinals.

2. STANSBURY: The potential is there for a huge season offensively. It starts on the offensive line with three returning starters, including Connor Littlefield and Bubba Peterson. Landon Stice is a blocking tight end who’s also back. All that experience in the trenches could help speedsters Zayne Anderson and Hudson Conrad flourish at wing back. QB Gage Manzione returns after starting seven games last season. Defensively, coach Clint Christiansen is switching to a 3-4 defense because of a glut of linebackers and a lack of size up front. The LB corps will be strong with Manzione, Stice, Connor Littlefield and freshman McCoy Diderickson. 2013 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Desert Hills 31-14 in quarterfinals.

3. TOOELE: Was decent defensively in some games last season, but three glaring outliers against Bear River (62 points), Juan Diego (49) and Snow Canyon (38) are proof of just how much this team needs to improve. With eight returning starters, an extra year of lifting could make all the difference. While Maka Kioa, Lawson Ross and Nate Reynolds are back on the defensive line, Nick Schwartzman returns at linebacker. Zac Cruz is also back at linebacker after missing about half of the 2013 season to injury. Senior Jake Brady will start at quarterback for the second-straight year, and his younger brother Ryan Brady takes over at fullback. Big things are expected from both behind an experienced offensive line with three starters and a tight end returning. 2013 RECORD: 3-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Snow Canyon 38-9 in first round.

4. BEAR RIVER: Coach Chris Wise is a former offensive lineman, and he’s excited about this year’s corps despite Carson Gibbs being the only returning starter. Newcomers Hayden Hammons and Ben Navejas are a big reason why. Last year Colton Jensen was second in 3AA with 1,126 receiving yards, but this year Bridger Beus will be counted on for big-play ability in the passing game. Beus had 16 catches for 447 yards and three TDs. Walker Riley takes over at quarterback, and he’s a patient QB who doesn’t like to scramble. The biggest priority this summer has been getting better defensively under new defensive coordinator Paul Lish, who will lean heavily on McKade Mitton, Gibbs and Curtis Wronkowski at linebacker. 2013 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Hurricane 38-26 in first round.

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