Last year everything was new, but it’s a fun feeling right now and we feel we’re a couple of weeks ahead of last year and where we’d be normally because of all the returning starters. —Spanish Fork coach Preston Parrish
Note: Spanish Fork finished with a 3-6 overall record in 2016 and fifth Region 8 with a 2-4 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
SPANISH FORK — If success were solely predicated on the amount of returning starters one has, then Spanish Fork would be the clear favorite to win Region 10 and probably a 4A championship. The Dons return 18 starters this season, and although there are many more factors in determining a champ, having a good amount of returning talent is an excellent foundation.
For this reason, players and coaches are clearly optimistic heading into the season.
“They know what they’re doing and they know what the expectations are,” said Spanish Fork coach Preston Parrish. “Last year everything was new, but it’s a fun feeling right now and we feel we’re a couple of weeks ahead of last year and where we’d be normally because of all the returning starters.”
The returning starters and the changes in region realignment has everyone in and around the program excited. The Dons are now part of Region 10, and while top teams such as Springville, Maple Mountain and Wasatch were bumped up to 5A, they remain in 4A classification.
“Change is good sometimes,” Parrish said. “You lose top teams like Maple Mountain and Springville and you get excited about the possibilities. We don’t shy away from playing teams like that, but at the same time we’re excited about the changes and feel we can really improve this year and do some great things.”
What's also good is seeing players do the things necessary to improve and be well-prepared for the coming grind of the football season.
“We have kids who have worked hard all year and we’ll see what we can do,” Parrish said. “Our region is tougher than most think — there’s a lot of good teams, and I feel most of the teams in our region will be improved. But I like what I’m seeing from our players.”
Spanish Fork Dons at a glance
Coach: Preston Parrish is in his second year coaching at Spanish Fork and went 3-6 his first season. He previously worked as an assistant at Davis. He played at Bountiful, where he was named an all-state lineman, before playing college football for Portland State.
Spanish Fork Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: John Kemp
2016 offensive production: 25.6 ppg (14th in 4A)
-- 11 returning starters
Key offensive returning starters
-- Carson Chappell (QB)
Chappell threw for 583 yards and nine touchdowns last year in his first year starting for the Dons.
“He’s a kid who won’t necessarily kill you with your arm or legs, but he’s a great kid," Parrish said. "He’s a smart kid who makes good choices and our kids really rally around him. He’s exactly the type of kid you want leading your offense from the quarterback spot.”
-- Offensive line
“With eleven returning starters, it’s tough to pick. But I’d have to go with our offensive line," Parrish said. "Our top seven guys all saw action last year. They all can play and they’re going to lead on everything we do with our offense. So yeah, I think we’ll really be able to hang our hat on our offensive line.”
Returning offensive starters
Jarom Jones (OL)
Vai Tufuaku (OL)
Sam Dawe (OL)
Noah Conway (RB)
Leota Saili (WR)
Landon Davies (OL)
JR Iketua (OL)
Cameron McKay (OL)
Mateen Lomax (RB)
Carson Chappell (QB)
Wei Stanton (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Andre Eyere (WR)
Hunter Clark (TE)
Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:
Having all of your starters returning is great, but the Dons have to show significant improvement from those starters in order to compete. Chappell should improve upon his 583 yards thrown for last year and will be aided significantly by what looks to be a very solid offensive front.
Spanish Fork Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Preston Parrish
2016 defensive production: 26.2 ppg (15th in 4A)
-- 7 returning starters
-- Adjustable 4-2
Key defensive returning starter
-- Gavin Campbell (DL)
“We feel that he’s as good as anyone in the state. We really like what he brings to the line and we’ll rely a lot on his play," Parrish said.
Returning defensive starters
Gavin Campbell (DL)
Tai Palepoi (DL)
Leota Saili (LB)
Kaleb Lindquist (DB)
Zach Beus (DB)
Trey Loftin (DB)
Ryley Hess (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
Ben Boyack (LB)
Spencer Tonga (LB)
Jackson McGraw (LB)
Parrish's comments on the strength of the defense:
“Almost our entire defensive backfield is back, so I think that’s going to be our strength on defense. We’re most experienced there and we’re confident there. We like our other positions, but I would say our safeties and corners are going to be the strength this year.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2017: Finding solid linebackers will be key, as the defensive line and defensive back positions look solid. Should the Dons find adequate starting linebackers, they'll improve on last season's overall performance.
Coaches preseason Region 10 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 10 prediction: Third
Key Region Game: at Salem Hills (Sept. 22)
Bottom line: Last year's excuses of being inexperienced and under a new coach are gone, and expectations should be raised. Anything short of a postseason bid should be considered a disappointment, considering what the Dons have returning. A region championship is not out of the question.
Aug. 18 — RIDGELINE, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Maple Mountain, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Uintah, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — at Skyridge, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — at Salem Hills, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — PAYSON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — MOUNTAIN VIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — BYE
Oct. 19 — at Orem, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Spanish Fork High School
All-time record: 366-442-20 (97 years)
Region championships: 7 (1935 co, 1961, 1969, 1970 co, 1973 co 1977 co, 1991 co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 31
Current playoff appearance streak: 0
All-time playoff record: 19-31
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-1
Most played rivalry: 96 meetings with Payson dating back to 1917. Spanish Fork leads 49-43-4.
Felt’s Factoid(s): SF’s Hayden Nielsen is one of just five Utah high school players to accumulate more than 9,000 career yards of total offense (9,451 from 2009-11).
2016 — 3-6 (2-4 in Region 8 – Missed playoffs)
2015 — 5-6 (3-3 in Region 8 – 4A First round)
2014 — 6-6 (2-4 in Region 8 – Missed playoffs)
2013 — 5-6 (4-2 in Region 8 – 4A First round)
2012 — 12-2 (5-0 in Region 12 – 3A Runner-up)
Spanish Fork coaching history
2016-current — Preston Parrish (3-6)
2015 — Jordan Smith (5-6)
2012-2014 — Kirk Chambers (23-14)
2006-2011 — Matt Christensen (41-28)
2000-2005 — Scott Brumfield (29-34)
1995-1999 — Everett Kelepolo (25-26)
1987-1994 — Doug Snell (26-49)
1981-1986 — Dave Clark (21-36)
1965-1980 — DelRay "Andy" Anderson (79-74-3)
1956-1964 — Don Fuller (42-38-3)
1953-1955 — Thayne Stone (3-17-1)
1952 — Gus Black (1-6)
1949-1951 — Thayne Stone (6-14-1)
1948 — Gus Black (2-3-1)
1940-1947 — Unknown (16-39-1)
1939 — Lloyd Jacobsen (4-2)
1932-1938 — Unknown (20-20-4)
1928-1931 — Fenton Reeves (12-6-3)
1919-1927 — Unknown (2-15-2)
1918 — Mr. Simmons (0-2)
1916-1917 — Unknown (6-7-1)
Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years
2016 — Wei Stanton, P
2014 — Adrian Rodriguez, OL
2012 — Braxton Argyle, RB
2012 — Colton Olsen, Spanish Fork, WR
2012 — Wyatt Groves, Spanish Fork, DL
2012 — Gunnar Beus, Spanish Fork, LB
2011 — Hayden Nielsen, QB
2011 — Christian Taele. RB
2011 — Sosiua Vaitohi, OL
2011 — Colin Argyle, LB
2010 — Isaac Asiata OL
2009 — Chase Loftin, WR
2009 — Isaac Asiata, OL
2008 — Breck Lewis, QB
2008 — Richard Wilson, TE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.