Note: Riverton finished with a 1-9 overall record in 2016 and last in Region 4 with a 0-6 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
RIVERTON — For the second time in three years, Tanner Vernon found himself adjusting to a new coaching staff.
“In my mind, we’ve done it before,” he said. “We went through a coaching change as sophomores. We’re used to it.”
He said what was more difficult was pulling together with the other veterans to lead the team in the off-season when they were without a coach. It made the normal challenges of an offense more difficult.
“For a little bit when we didn’t have a coach, it was hard,” the defensive lineman said. “There were a handful of us that had to step up and kind of be the coaches.”
Vernon said he’s learned new techniques, new strategies and new mental toughness from the new coaching staff.
“A lot of these guys bring a lot of experience,” he said. “They bring a completely different mindset. They bring something new, something different, and it just makes you a more versatile athlete.”
Blaine Monkres is still getting to know the team he was hired to coach in January, but there is one attribute that gives him hope Riverton can improve on last year’s one-win season.
“The kids have been working really hard since January,” said Monkres, who's won state titles at Dixie and Morgan in his nearly three decades of coaching high school football. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked. As a coach, that’s all you can ask. You get out on the feld and start playing, and if they’re flying around and giving 110 percent and they’re out working hard and doing everything that you ask, then you can go out on Friday night and whether you win or lose, you can feel good about yourself.”
Monkres knows the scoreboard is the ultimate judge of success, but for the Silverwolves, their goal is not to focus the outcome of games.
“If you go out and you know you did your best, that’s all we’re trying to do right now,” Monkres said.
Incremental improvements are what the long-time coach is looking for and, so far, he’s been happy with the players’ progress.
“Camp was the first time I saw them in pads,” he said. “And that was in June. The kids did well there.”
He said when he first arrived, the attitude was positive and enthusiastic. As the months have progressed, the new coaches and players have evolved out of that ‘honeymoon phase’ to a truer understanding.
“At the beginning, everybody is putting their best foot forward,” he said, smiling. “But that newness wears off, and a lot of kids will keep working, but there were those kids who will filter themselves out or show their true colors. We’ve been here long enough that now we get the true guys.”
He said the team’s preseason schedule will be tremendously challenging, and he hopes it will not discourage the team.
“I might have bitten off more than I can chew this year,” he said. “Hopefully when we get into region I can convince them of that. (The preseason) isn’t an indicator of how we’re going to do when we get to region.”
"We have some kids who have great potential, but those two stuck out as great leaders also," Monkres said.
Riverton Silverwolves at a glance
Coach: This is Blaine Monkres' first year as the head coach at Riverton, but he has 27 years as a head coach overall. The Clearfield and Weber State alum has won region titles at Morgan, Dixie and Fremont high schools, and he's won state titles at Morgan and Dixie. He took Fremont to the state championship game in 1995.
Riverton Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Blaine Monkres
2016 offensive production: 13.7 ppg (26th in 5A)
-- 6 returning starters
Key offensive returning starters
Trystan Hymas (WR)
Nathaniel Davidson (QB)
Travis Mohney (WR)
Returning offensive starters
Davin Nickle (OL)
Stockton Lund (K)
Ethan Roberts (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Cannon Coggins (QB)
Ayden Sluka (WR)
Riley Young (RB)
Dylan Coates (RB)
Monkres' comments on Stockton Lund:
"He is a Division-I-level kicker," Monkres said.
Keys for Offensive Success in 2017: With two capable quarterbacks still competing for the starting job, there are a lot of unknowns for the Silverwolves' offense. The leadership of offensive lineman Davin Nickle and Ethan Roberts, along with the development of running backs Riley Young and Dylan Coates are all critical to the team's scoring success.
Riverton Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Jackson Peck
2016 defensive production: 33.5 ppg (23rd in 5A)
-- 5 returning starters
-- 4-2 or 4-3
Key defensive returning starters
-- Hama Tuione (DE)
Earned 49 tackles, three sacks and an interception
-- Tanner Vernon (DL)
Earned 10 tackles and a sack.
-- Hayden Wade (S)
Earned 53 tackles last year.
Returning defensive starters
-- Ethan Canfield (CB)
-- Kaige Roberts (LB)
Monkres comments on Hayden Wade:
"Hayden Wade is an undersized safety, but he works really hard and plays hard."
Monkres comments on Tanner Vernon:
"Tanner is an undersized defensive lineman. He's a great team leader; he works hard. ...He never takes a day off. And he's a really good player on top of that."
Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:
The Silverwolves' defense has more experience returning but will be completely different under a new defensive coordinator. Seniors Tanner Vernon and Hayden Wade provide leadership, while players like linebacker Kaige Roberts and defensive end Hama Tuione will add toughness and talent to the team's ability to hold opponents' offenses in check.
Coaches preseason Region 3 straw poll: 5
Deseret News Region 3 prediction: 3
Key Region Game: Taylorsville, Sept. 29
Riverton should finish much better than last year's one-win season. The question is can they improve enough to challenge for a playoff spot? They have the talent, but with an entirely new coaching staff, questions about chemistry and cohesiveness can only be answered once they're actually playing games. The Silverwolves are one of the few teams with a Division-I-talented kicker in Stockton Lund.
Aug. 18 — at Skyridge, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — at Corner Canyon, 4 p.m.
Sept. 1 — PROVO, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Pleasant Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — COPPER HILLS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — EAST, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — at Herriman, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.
Felts Facts for Riverton High School
All-time record: 90-104 (18 years)
Region championships: 1 (2013 co)
Playoff appearances: 12
Current playoff appearance streak: 0
All-time playoff record: 4-12
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Most played rivalry: 16 meetings with Bingham dating back to 1999. Bingham leads 14-2.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Riverton became just the seventh school to rush for more than 4,000 yards during a season when the Silverwolves ran for 4,456 in 2010. The 2013 (4,449 yards) and 2014 (4,407 yards) teams also rushed for more than 4,000 yards.” And/or “Riverton rushed for a state record 657 yards on Sept. 6, 2013 (tied with East, which also ran for 657 yards that same night).
2016 — 1-9 (0-6 in Region 4 – Missed playoffs)
2015 — 2-8 (0-6 in Region 4 – Missed playoffs)
2014 — 10-2 (5-1 in Region 4 – 5A Semifinals)
2013 — 8-3 (4-2 in Region 4 – 5A Quarterfinals)
2012 — 6-5 (3-2 in Region 4 – 5A First round)
Riverton coaching history
2017 — Blaine Monkres (0-0)
2015-2016 — Brent Hawkins (2-8)
2004-2014 — Mike Miller (72-49)
1999-2003 — Rick Bojak (13-38)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2014 — Simeon Page, LB
2014 — Simeon Page, LB
2010 — Landon Fisher, TE
2010 — Skyler Fullmer, LB
2008 — Zach Spencer, RB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.