We feel this year that we’ll be a little bit better overall as a team at every position. Whereas, with those blue-chippers that we had, we were a little inefficient in some other areas they compensated for. We have a better all-around group, just no dominant players. —Provo coach Ton McGeary
Note: Provo finished with a 7-5 overall record in 2016 and tied for third in Region 7 with a 4-3 record. It lost to Maple Mountain 27-20 in 4A first round.
PROVO — In his fourth season with the team, Provo coach Tony McGeary says his team is confident in a group that he has seen since freshman year.
On offense, the Bulldogs lost a significant amount of playmaking from the skill positions, including receiver Ty Jones, who had over 1,500 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns in 2016 and starting quarterback Spencer Jorgensen.
However, rather than simply replacing the great individuals, McGeary said the team has become stronger overall, and will not be dominated by any single player.
“We feel this year that we’ll be a little bit better overall as a team at every position. Whereas, with those blue-chippers that we had, we were a little inefficient in some other areas they compensated for. We have a better all-around group, just no dominant players.”
A senior group that he said was undefeated in its sophomore group has focused on making strides in the gym, and the coaching staff is working to make sure the effort the players have put in results in success on the field.
Provo went 7-5 last season, before bowing out to Maple Mountain in the first round of the playoffs, but the team won four of five games to that point.
McGeary said the goal is to get over seven wins this season and to see what the Bulldogs can accomplish in the playoffs from that point, though it will be interesting to see how the new region 8 affects Provo.
However, the group is extremely confident, and anxious to get the 2017 season started.
“We’re very optimistic, very encouraged. This group knows how to win," he said.
Provo Bulldogs at a glance:
Coach: Tony McGeary has been the head man since 2014. His teams have amassed an 18-15 record.
Provo Offensive Snapshot:
Offensive coordinator: Tony McGeary
2016 offensive production: 27.6 ppg (12th in 4A)
5 returning starters
Key offensive returning starters:
Kelton Bertagnini (TE)
Bertagnini had 507 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2016 and was important in blocking for the running game.
Taki Higby (OL)
Returning offensive starters:
Kelton Bertagnini (TE)
Nick Stoddard (WR)
Taki Higby (OL)
Talmage Robertson (OL)
Brock Heideman (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Bryce Orton (QB)
McGeary's comments on a ground-and-pound game plan:
"Our quarterback now will probably be running a little bit more. We’ll take our shots down field when we have it, but we’ll probably be a little more run-oriented this year than last year."
McGeary's comments on a solid offensive line:
“We’ve got a great crop of linemen that have come up that are sophomores. They were undefeated their sophomore year."
McGeary's comments on incoming offensive skill players:
“Our skill guys have conditioned and trained very well, especially in the weight room."
Keys for offensive success in 2017:
As McGeary said, this group will try to gain yards in chunks, while taking shots far down the field sparingly. With team defense being a strength, and with an unproven but talented set of skill players on offense, it will be important to keep possession and try to run the clock, especially early in the season.
Provo Defensive Snapshot:
Defensive coordinator: Saia Pope
2016 defensive production: 23.1 ppg (10th in 4A)
-- 4 returning starters
-- 4-3 base defense
Key defensive returning starters:
Johnny Astle (DE)
Astle led the team in sacks in 2016 with four and totaled 44 tackles.
Jaxon Tronson (DB)
Tronson had 46 tackles and an interception in 2016.
Returning defensive starters:
Johnny Astle (DE)
Jaxon Tronson (DB)
Garrett Gregory (DB)
Noah Lamont (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch:
Garett Lesa (LB)
McGeary's comments on the defensive backs:
“We’ve got three returners in the secondary. Juniors last year that had a lot of experience.”
McGeary's comments on defense being a team strength:
"We might not be able to score the type of points that we did last year, but we’re definitely going to have a good opportunity to keep the scoring down from our opponents this year."
McGeary's comments on defensive senior leadership:
"Defensively we are very senior heavy and will be physical across the field."
Keys for defensive success in 2017:
With three defensive backs returning from last season, pass defense could be a strength of this team. If the team struggles to score, as McGeary suggested could be possible, there will be a lot of pressure on the defense to keep the score low and avoid shootouts.
Coaches preseason Region 8 straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News Region 8 prediction: Fifth
Key region game: At Springville, Oct. 18, (Week 10)
Bottom line: Justifiably so, Provo football is feeling pretty confident going into 2017. With a good number of starters returning, and a solid group of young players coming up on both ends of the ball, the Bulldogs could potentially succeed in the trenches on offense and defense.
The dynamics of a newly-aligned region could prove tough, and it will be interesting to see how the team responds.
Aug. 18 — at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — WESTLAKE, 4 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Timpview, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — OREM, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — SKYRIDGE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Maple Mountain, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — TIMPANOGOS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — WASATCH, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — at Springville, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Provo High School
All-time record: 435-443-26 (102 years)
Region championships: 23 (1923, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1958, 1965, 1972, 1973 co, 1976 co, 1979, 1981, 1982 co, 1986 co, 1987, 1988 co, 2005 co)
Playoff appearances: 41
Current playoff appearance streak: 2 (2015-2016)
All-time playoff record: 30-40
State championships: 1 (1982)
State championship record: 1-5
Most played rivalry: 74 meetings with Springville dating back to 1908. Provo leads 42-28-4.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Provo took part in the longest game in state history, a seven-overtime game in 1982. Provo ended up beating Pleasant Grove 51-44. ... Bulldog Roger Gourley is one of only two players to return a punt for 100 yards (1972). (Since 1974, kick and punt returns from the end zone haven’t been allowed.)
2016 — 7-5 (4-3 in Region 7, 4A first round)
2015 — 8-3 (5-1 in Region 7, 4A first round)
2014 — 3-8 (0-6 in Region 8, Missed playoffs)
2013 — 1-9 (0-6 in Region 8, Missed playoffs)
2012 — 0-10 (0-7 in Region 8, Missed playoffs)
Provo coaching history
2014-current — Tony McGeary (18-15)
2012-2013 — Cody Mallory (1-19)
2008-2011 — Saia Pope (18-24)
2004-2007 — Clint Christiansen (21-22)
1999-2003 — Frank Henderson (17-37)
1995-1998 — David Mills (9-28)
1993-1994 — Ed Larson (6-12)
1992 — Jess Christensen (4-5)
1991 — Duane Johnson (5-4)
1979-1990 — Frank Henderson (88-42)
1977-1978 — Gary Roylance (6-12)
1976 — Paul Gillespie (10-2)
1973-1975 — Jack Branin (12-15)
1972 — Bry Lake (10-3)
1954-1971 — Dick Hill (81-71-6)
1943-1953 — Max Warner (39-51-6)
1942 — Glen Simmons (3-2-1)
1939-1941 — Griffith Kimball (16-9-2)
1936-1938 — Unknown (8-13-3)
1923-1935 — Glen Simmons (49-39-7)
1908-1922 – Unknown (14-17)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2016 — Ty Jones, WR
2016 — Tevita Ika, ATH
2015 — Ty Jones, WR
2009 — Likio Pope, OL
2009 — Maka Unufe, Specialist
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.