DRAPER Juan Diego coach John Colosimo is taking a different approach in trying to get his team over the quarterfinal hump in the 3A playoffs this season.
The Soaring Eagle have been eliminated at home in the 3A quarterfinals in three consecutive seasons. In 2005, they expectedly lost to a loaded Pine View team that took second place in 3A. The past two seasons, turnovers helped doom Juan Diego in quarterfinal games against closely matched teams in Dixie and Union.
Colosimo isn't quite ready to say his team is jinxed in the quarterfinals. But he isn't taking any chances, either.
"I'm just going to stop talking about it," Colosimo said. "Our goal is not to make it to the turf. Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and see what happens. We'll keep our mouth shut this year. 'It's just another game, guys. We're going to come out and play and have fun hang on to the football.'"
If Juan Diego takes care of the football in big games, it could be a breakthrough season for the Soaring Eagle. The team seems to have the pieces in place to make it to the 3A semis for the first time in school history.
The team is loaded with seven returning starters on offense and six on defense. It should be solid on both the offensive and defensive lines. It has a whopping six quality running backs who will share the rushing duties. All six are probably good enough to be a featured back in most 3A programs.
Forget making it to the turf. Juan Diego has bigger aspirations than that.
"There's no reason why we can't go undefeated," said Soaring Eagle lineman Jamie Markosian. "I'm not trying to be real cocky or bragging or anything. But you know we have a very talented team and we work well together. We all have fun together. I think we're going to be just fine."
Markosian is the anchor on both the offensive and defensive lines. He's 6-foot-4, 255 pounds and extremely mobile for his size. He's been offered by Weber State, and will receive some Division I scholarship offers if he stays healthy this season. Taylor Berg is also a two-way starter, and will be a key player in the trenches for the Soaring Eagle.
Colosimo has to break in a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2005. Brian May has patiently waited for his chance to play quarterback while sitting behind a three-year starter. He has been pushed for the starting position by Taylorsville transfer Mike Ramirez, but will most likely be running the offense when the team opens the season at West. Colosimo said he'll find a way to utilize Ramirez's talents if he isn't the starting quarterback.
Brayden Dimond and Zach Kinniger will probably receive the most carries at running back. Dennis Larsen, Tyler Morales and Jesse Ramirez will also be in the mix.
May is going to have some weapons at his disposal in the passing game. At receiver, the Soaring Eagle feature standouts in Keegan Anderson and Jake Doughty. Tight end Tyler Bauman will also be a threat.
"We'll be pretty balanced," Colosimo said. "I'm excited for it."
Juan Diego hasn't had any trouble fielding a powerful defense since moving up from 2A to 3A prior to the 2005 season. Bauman, Doughty and Danny Jimenez are leaders at linebacker, while Markosian and Berg will be helped on the defensive line by players such as Junior Latu and Spencer Durfey.
Getting past the 3A quarterfinals and to the turf at Rice-Eccles Stadium is a realistic goal for Juan Diego this season. The Soaring Eagle seem to be close or on par with 3A superpowers Logan, Judge and Delta this season. There will be a lot of pressure on the players if they host a 3A quarterfinal game for the fourth consecutive season, but they say they are ready for it."We really have been just right there," Markosian said. "We've needed one more play or a little bit more time. There's all the excuses in the world. We just got to take it one game at a time, one play at a time."
Juan Diego Soaring Eagle 2008 prep football preview
COACH: John Colosimo has been the only person to coach Juan Diego in the school's history. He led the team to two 2A state championships before the school was placed in 3A prior to the 2005 season. His teams have won at least a share of a region championship in six consecutive seasons .
KEY PLAYERS: Juan Diego is loaded on both sides of the ball. On offense look for (QB) Brian May, (RB) Brayden Dimond, (RB) Zach Kinniger, (WR) Keegan Anderson, (WR) Jake Doughty, (OL) Jamie Markosian, (OL) Taylor Berg and (TE) Tyler Bauman to make plays. Mike Ramirez will likely find a spot on defense, while (DL) Junior Latu, (DL) Spencer Durfey and (LB) Danny Jimenez will also contribute on that side of the ball.
QUESTION MARK: They are obvious ones and they have nothing to do with the talent level or coaching currently in the program. Can this team get over the hump in the 3A quarterfinals and make it to the turf? Can the team avoid the turnovers that have plagued it in elimination games the last three years?
LAST YEAR: 8-4, lost in state quarterfinals.
PREDICTED REGION 8 FINISH: First.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Juan Diego will be in a dogfight with Delta for the Region 8 championship. Both teams should be able to represent the league well in the playoffs. Juan Diego will likely cruise to the quarterfinals. That's when this year's team will have the chance to make its mark. The Soaring Eagle have never been to the 3A semifinals. With the talent and coaching in place for this season, Juan Diego should make it to the turf for the first time.
Aug. 22 at West, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Grantsville 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Cyprus, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Wasatch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 SALEM HILLS 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Emery, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 NORTH SANPETE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 CARBON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Delta, 7 p.m.