I feel like our team should be battling at the top of 2A South. —Grand County head coach Dennis Wells
Note: Grand County finished with a 5-6 overall record in 2016 and fifth in 2A South with a 1-4 record. It lost to San Juan 46-6 in 2A quarterfinals.
MOAB — Injuries are often the worst possible inevitability in football. They are going to happen, it is the nature of the game, and the sad truth is an injury to the wrong player can derail a season or career. On the other hand, injuries open up opportunities for others to shine. The Grand County Red Devils saw this very thing up close last year.
Injuries devastated the Red Devils in 2016, most notably injuries suffered by starting center Derrick Tsosie and quarterback Josh Jones, which forced a young team to get even younger.
“We had a lot of young guys,” said Grand County head coach Dennis Wells. “They had to replace some really good football players (both those who graduated and those who went down to injury).”
The result was an up-and-down season, as was to be expected. The Red Devils took care of business where they were supposed to, more often than not, but were out of their depth against the elite of the 2A South region.
Grand County went a combined 0-3 three against 2A South behemoths Beaver and San Juan in 2016, not to mention a devastating 27-20 defeat to Enterprise.
The losses gave the Red Devils needed experience, however, and Wells and his team expect 2017 to be a tad different.
“I feel like our team should be battling at the top of 2A South,” said Wells. “We should be battling for the second spot, while not giving into Beaver.”
Wells confidence is his kids spreads even further than just region play, as the veteran coach noted, “We should finish just below the top three in 2A (expected to South Summit, Beaver and Delta). We have 15 returning starters, which is really good for Grand, and junior and sophomore classes that should really compliment the team. We should have a good year, as long as we can stay healthy.”
That is really the key for the Red Devils in 2017: Health. The team finished with just four healthy seniors at the end of last season, and still posted a top-ten offense and defense. If the Red Devils can remain relatively healthy, they can do some damage.
“It’s going to be tough, but I really like this team. We have a chance to be one of the best teams in our region,” said Wells.
Grand County Red Devils at a glance
Coach: Dennis Wells is in his 16th season as head coach of the Red Devils. Over the course of a decade and a half, Wells has tallied a 75-85 record at his alma mater. In addition to being a graduate of Grand County High School, Wells is also a graduate of Southern Utah University.
Grand County Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Dennis Wells
2016 offensive production: 20.5 ppg (10th in 2A)
-- 9 returning starters
-- Wing-T offense
Key offensive returning starters
-- Brayden Schultz (QB/WR)
Schultz was perhaps the team's best quarterback last season, appearing under center in five games. Schultz totaled 192 yards passing with four touchdowns (a team-high). He also contributed as a rusher and pass catcher, racking up 601 yards rushing and a team-best seven scores, to go along with 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
-- Dakota Johnson (WB)
Part of the Red Devils deep and productive running corps, Johnson was one a major contributor in 2016. His 504 yards rushing were the second best mark on the team, and his six touchdowns left him only trailing Schultz. Johnson also added two receiving touchdowns to his efforts last season, on only 30 receiving yards.
Returning offensive starters
Nick Downard (RB)
Jarrett Reidhead (FB)
Brayden Schultz (QB/WR)
Dakota Johnson (WB)
Gage Hansen (OT)
Jared Smith (OT)
Jarom Shumway (OG)
Brodie Williams (OG)
Trae Meyer (OG)
Trent Elmore (TB)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Derrick Tsosie (C)
Josh Jones (QB)
Bryant Troutt (QB)
Wells’ comments on quarterback position battle
“Brayden did a good job for us last year, and we bring back a senior in Josh Jones who missed all of last season due to injury. We also have a sophomore quarterback, Bryant Troutt, who got a lot of playing time on varsity last year. He has looked very good this summer. Whoever wins the job, we feel confident they can go out and get the job done,”’ said Wells.
Wells’ comments on offensive line
“We get back Derrick Tsosie, a senior, who missed all of last season due to injury. We also bring back our entire starting O-Line. I am very confident in that group. We were young and inexperienced last year, but as long as we stay healthy, they should have a good year,” said Wells.
Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:
With nine returning starters, as well as the return of former starters in Tsosie and Jones, the Red Devils have a wealth of experience on offense. After having to replace many talent rushers in 2016, Grand County has great depth at the running and wing back positions. The offensive line is also deep, with six starting caliber lineman available on the roster. As with any Wing-T attack, the O-Line and running back positions are key and the Red Devils are stocked in both places. If the quarterbacks and receivers can find a way to provide a threat, the Grand County offense should be one of the more effective in 2A.
Grand County Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Scott Horton (Five years as assistant)
2016 defensive production: 26 ppg (7th in 2A)
-- 9 returning starters
-- 4-4 defense
Key defensive returning starters
-- Jarrett Reidhead (NG)
A key cog in an excellent Red Devils defensive line, Reidhead had a superb 2016 campaign. The D-lineman tallied 40 tackles, which tied him for the second most on the team, and he was also one of just four Grand players to record a sack.
-- Trent Elmore (OLB)
One of five returning experienced linebackers on the Grand County roster, Elmore was one of the team's stalwarts in 2016. His 31 total tackles were better than any linebacker save fellow stud Nick Downard.
Returning defensive starters
Brayden Schultz (FS)
Dakota Johnson (SS)
Nick Downard (LB)
Chris Thompson (LB)
Brayden Troutt (LB)
Bryant Troutt (OLB)
Jarrett Reidhead (NG)
Jared Smith (DT)
Gage Hansen (DE)
Trent Elmore (OLB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
Bruin Meader (CB)
Kayden Robertson (CB)
Jarom Shumway (DE)
Wells’ comments on cornerbacks
“Bruin (Meader) and Kayden (Robertson) each got a lot of experience at corner last year as underclassmen. They may not be returning starters, but their experience will help us a lot on the outside,” said Wells.
Wells’ comments on defensive depth
“We were very young last season. That, and injuries give us a lot of experienced depth this year. We have returning starters at every level of the defense, and the kids behind them have experience. That should help us be even better this year,” said Wells.
Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:
The Red Devils return practically their entire defense, including three starting linemen, five linebackers and two starting safeties. Add in the reserves who saw playing time last year, and Grand County looks primed to have one of the best defenses in 2A.
As long as the Red Devils can stay healthy, and get solid play out of the secondary, they are almost guaranteed to have a top five defense.
Coaches preseason 2A South straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News 2A South prediction: Fifth
Key Region Game: at Beaver, Oct. 6 (Week 8).
With 15 returning starters, as well as experience behind them, Grand County is going to be a team to be reckoned with. The Red Devils have the necessary to depth to dominate in the trenches, and the skills players behind to be good on both sides of the ball. As long as they can stay healthy, Grand County should contend for one of the top spots in the 2A South region, as well as in 2A as whole. A playoff berth seems inevitable, with a deep run a definite possibility.
Aug. 18 — MONTICELLO, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — at Cortez, Colo., 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Millard, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — ENTERPRISE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — at Beaver, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 — 2A PLAYOFFS, TBD
Felt’s Facts for Grand High School
All-time record: 415-379-18 (96 years)
Region championships: 23 (1923, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1984 co, 1995 co, 2005 co)
Playoff appearances: 51
Current playoff appearance streak: 2 (2015-2016)
All-time playoff record: 30-50
State championships: 1 (2005)
State championship record: 1-6
Most played rivalry: 71 meetings with San Juan dating back to 1956. San Juan leads 43-28.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Grand’s Tanner Brown is one of just three Utah gridders to rush for more than 5,000 career yards. He ran for 5,060 from 2003-06.
2016 — 5-6 (1-4 in 2A South – 2A Quarterfinals)
2015 — 6-5 (3-2 in 2A South – 2A Quarterfinals)
2014 — 2-8 (2-4 in 2A South – Missed playoffs)
2013 — 10-2 (5-1 in 2A South – 2A Runner-up)
2012 — 7-4 (5-2 in 2A South – 2A Semifinals)
Grand coaching history
2002-current — Dennis Wells (75-85)
1996-2001 — Ron Dolphin (21-39)
1994-1995 — Doug Thompson (13-7)
1992-1993 — Steve Hren (3-15)
1989-1991 — Doug Thompson (11-16)
1985-1988 — Bill Moore (16-19)
1983-1984 — Curtis Page (14-7)
1982 — Verplank (4-5)
1980-1981 — Bruce Burningham (5-14)
1959-1979 — Glen Richeson (134-72)
1954-1958 — Darrel Crawford (12-18)
1951-1953 — Dick Hill (8-11)
1949-1950 — Larry Palmer (12-4)
1947-1948 — K.L. Davis (7-10)
1946 – Mike McQuirk (0-4)
1944-1945 — Unknown (5-8)
1943 — Willard Devitt (2-4)
1941-1942 — Unknown (7-4)
1939-1940 — Ken Soffe (6-5)
1931-1938 — Glenn Merrill (25-14)
1930 — Joe Day (2-1)
1927-1929 — Eddie Kimball (14-5)
1925-1926 — Clem Campbell (8-4)
1921-1924 — H.B. Evans (7-5)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2016 — Brayden Schultz, QB/FS
2015 — Dalton McElhaney, QB/LB
2015 — Brandon Secrest, FB/DL
2015 — Seth Holyoak, TE/LB
2013 — Jacob Francis, QB/FS
2013 — Koi Cook, RB/LB
2013 — Edgar Gomez, OL/DL
2012 — Jacob Francis, QB/DB
2012 — Koi Cook, RB/DB
2012 — Edgar Gomez, OL/DL
2011 — Kevin Ballard, LB
2010 — Billy Keddington, QB
2009 — Sam DeMars Conoly, LB
2009 — Trevor Robertson, QB/DB
2009 — Dallen Dalton, RB/LB
2008 — Tony Cossairt, OL
2007 — Gordon Garrett, QB/DB
2007 — Daniel Simpson, DL
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.