High school football: Grand Red Devils 2014 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 16 2014 11:15 p.m. MDT

Note: Grand County finished with a 10-2 overall record in 2013 and was second in 2A South with a 5-1 record. It lost to South Summit 42-8 in the 2A championship.

The Grand County Red Devils had a monumental season in 2013.

They defeated rival San Juan handily (30-9) on the Broncos' field in the final game of the regular season. With a single loss in region play, they earned a No. 2 seed in the 2A state tournament. And on the stellar play of a number of seniors and juniors, they advanced through the quarterfinals and semifinals before falling to South Summit in a snowy championship game under the lights at Weber State University.

The 2014 squad looks a little different from last year's. Fortunately, the 2014 squad will benefit from the experience gained last year.

"These kids are not the all-stars who have been discussed and feared and revered. Those kids are gone now," said Ron Dolphin, assistant football coach and athletic director at Grand County. "These aren’t the kids who need the center stage or spotlight. They just want to get in and get to work."

The coach refers to his group of seniors, many of whom were major contributors in last season's playoff run, as a blue-collar group, touting their ability to dive into the trenches and get things done.

"These guys are workmen. They are going to grind it out. They are not about individual stats," he said. "This is a blue-collar group of guys that I think is going to do some good things for us this year."

One of those players is Dolphin's son, Ronnie Dolphin, a 6-foot senior who plays fullback and safety. As a junior, he averaged 4.86 yards per carry, totaled 55 yards and a touchdown on four catches, and recorded 43 tackles, a sack, and a team-best four interceptions on defense.

Returning alongside the younger Dolphin will be seniors Koby Sobremesana, Tanner White, Jason Christensen and Josh Harris, a lineman Coach Dolphin is excited to see back in action.

"He manhandles opponents," the coach said. "He is so effective — even when he is out of position."

Joining the group this year either as starters or crucial role players will be seniors Adam Flanders, Justin Hawks, Qordale Tsosie and Stephen Messick.

"We have a great group of guys," Dolphin said. "This year, we have nine seniors and they will be impact players because of their ability."

The Red Devils are expecting big play from a number of juniors as well, including returning starter Dalton McElhaney, a receiver and quarterback who averaged 4.69 yards per carry and 14.89 yards per reception as a sophomore.

"Those juniors are the same kind of kids. (They) quietly go about their business," Dolphin said. "They aren’t battle-tested but I feel confident about their ability to get the job done."

Ultimately, with a combination of experience and work ethic, the Red Devils' coaches are confident the Moab-based team will have a successful season among a crowd of talented teams.

"In our division, we think it’s going to be a three-way dogfight for first and a three-way dogfight for fourth," Dolphin said, referring to 2A South. "We anticipate making another good playoff run. We’ve done that the last two years and these kids have been a part of that. They know how to get the job done. They know it’s a long season and what they’ve got to do. Their goal is to get better each and every day."

Grand County Red Devils at a glance

Coach: Dennis Wells enters his 13th season as the head coach of Grand County, where he has accumulated a career record of 62-66. Wells is a graduate of Grand County and Southern Utah University.

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