Note: North Sanpete finished with a 0-10 overall record in 2017 and was sixth in 3A South with a 0-5 record. It lost to Union 42-20 in the 3A first round.
MOUNT PLEASANT — North Sanpete didn’t win a single football game last season, so the coaching staff is getting back to the basics. The hope is the extra attention to detail now will pay dividends in October and November.
“One of the smallest things we’ve been teaching the kids from Day 1 is just exchanging the ball, from the center to the quarterback and the quarterback to the running back and fullback, and then from there carrying the ball. We teach our kids four points of pressure on the ball,” said North Sanpete coach Rhett Bird.
By spending extra time on those details throughout summer, Bird expects that his team will cut down on the three, four and sometimes five turnovers that were commonplace on Friday nights last season.
Even though North Sanpete clearly didn’t have the talent to compete near the top of 3A, it wasn’t as bad as its 0-10 record would suggest. Four of its 10 losses were decided by one score, and Bird believes better ball security will help flip some of those results.
Staying healthy would help too. At one point last season North Sanpete only had 15 extra players dressed on the sideline.
Even though injuries are an inevitable and unpredictable part of football, North Sanpete’s coaching staff is doing everything in its power to guard against them.
“Our starting guys were on the sideline and that’s why we had to play so many young kids. That’s been one of the biggest things we’ve emphasized this offseason was getting our kids in the weight room and keeping them healthy this year. Our strength and conditioning coach, Cade Beck, has put tons of hours into our workouts to try and get these guys ready and stay healthy this season,” said Bird.
North Sanpete ranked last in 3A in scoring last season and then 10th out of 12 teams in scoring defense. There’s no quick fix to that lack of production, but the coaching staff is taking small steps to get things corrected this year.
North Sanpete Hawks at a glance
Coach: Rhett Bird is entering his third season as head coach at his alma mater. He has a 4-15 record in his first two seasons.
North Sanpete Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Rhett Bird
2017 offensive production: 11.5 ppg (12th in 3A)
- 7 returning starters
- Pro-set offense
Key offensive returning starters
- Ethan Bowles (WR): Played a lot of snaps at slot receiver and running back and will be a key weapon.
- Mcade Poulson (OL): One of three returning starters on the offensive line.
Returning offensive starters
- Mason Burgess (RB)
- Payton Clawson (RB)
- Ethan Bowles (WR)
- Ashton Osborne (WR)
- Mcade Poulson (OL)
- Dustin Ashworth (OL)
- Alan Oldroyd (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Coach Bird comments on QB Chance Clawson:
“We told him he has to take care of the ball. He’s been one in the past that if we open things up and we let him lead a whole field, he tends to make bad mistakes turning the ball over. He’s a good runner, and we’ve told him if you get in situations and it’s a tight window we want him to run the ball. That’s our main goal with him, run the ball when you have green grass and take care of the ball when you’re passing.”
Coach Bird comments on the offensive line:
“It’s a great group. We have three guys that have played for us the past two years, and we’ve added two young kids, sophomores. We have a good mix of two young kids, and the others are really good seniors.”
Coach Bird comments on sophomore RB Trevin Morley:
“We had a freshman quarterback last year that’s a really good ball carrier, runs well, fast, quick, and we’ve actually moved him from the quarterback spot to the running back spot. From what we saw at camp he’s caught on really quick to the offensive scheme. He told me, ‘Hey coach it’s just like scrambling from the quarterback spot but you’re telling me what hole to hit.’ He’s enjoyed it so far.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:
North Sanpete ranked dead last in 3A last year averaging just 11.5 ppg. Turnovers will the biggest reason for all those struggles. The coaching staff has gotten back to basics all summer to improve that ball security. They’re also asking QB Chance Clawson to take fewer risks. By keeping the football, and not giving it away unless it’s a punt, North Sanpete will force opposing defenses to drive the field instead of giving away so many short fields.
North Sanpete Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Dave Peck
2017 defensive production: 32.4 ppg (10th in 3A)
- 6 returning starters
- 3-4 defense
Key defensive returning starters
- Brock Justesen (LB): Was one of North Sanpete's top tacklers a year ago.
- Payton Clawson (S): Finished among the team's leading tacklers from his safety position.
Returning defensive starters
- Dustin Ashworth (DL)
- Mcade Poulson (DL)
- Brock Justesen (LB)
- Chance Clawson (LB)
- Payton Clawson (S)
- Cesar Lemus (S)
- Ashton Osborne (CB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
Coach Bird comments on LB Connor Jorgensen:
“He played for us as a freshman two years ago, let our team in tackles all year, but couldn’t play last year because he had knee surgery, but we have him back. He’s our leader and our vocal guy right there. Coming back from camp we didn’t know how his knee was going to do, but it’s 100 percent healed and he’s running better than he’s ever run before.”
Coach Bird comments on returning D-line starters Mcade Poulson and Dustin Ashworth:
“Mcade and Dustin all offseason have been in the weight room. Dustin is a big kid, 6-foot-2, 315 pounds. He’s playing our nose guard, and he’s a really athletic kid. Offensively we’ve actually moved him from our guard position to center. He’s gone to camps this summer, Utah State, Weber State. He’s done nothing but prepare for this season and he’s looking good in the middle.”
Coach Bird comments on balanced defensive:
“One of the deep positions we have a lot of depth in is the DB position. We run a scheme where if we’re playing a passing team we’ll sub out some of our slower linebackers and sub in some quicker guys and we feel like we have the guys this year that when we’re in our package we can guard the pass and then if we’re playing a running team we have guys that are starting for us who are seniors who can stop the run.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:
Two years ago two of North Sanpete’s top linebackers were sophomores Connor Jorgensen and Josh Lee. They both missed last season because of injury, and their return is a huge shot in the arm for a defense that already features some key returning starters. The biggest step the defense needs to make in 2018 is trust. Coach Bird said that guys were always trying to do too much defensively instead of trusting that the player next to him. That approach always backfires, and avoiding it is key. Dave Peck is taking over at defensive coordinator for North Sanpete, and his presence should add to the comfort level of the defense.
Coaches preseason 3A South straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News 3A South prediction: Fifth
Key Region Game: vs. Richfield, Sept. 28 (Week 7)
Bottom line: Nothing went right for North Sanpete in 2017, and winless teams rarely make huge strides the following season. The Hawks hope to buck that trend though as they return over half their starters both offensively and defensively this season. Limiting turnovers will be the key. It will increase the likelihood of North Sanpete scoring but also keep the defense off the field. If everything comes together this could be a quarterfinal team, but anything beyond that will be difficult.
- Aug. 17 — at Grantsville, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — UNION, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — at Cedar, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Juan Diego, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — SUMMIT ACADEMY, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — RICHFIELD, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Manti, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — JUAB, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for North Sanpete
All-time record: 302-448-19 (102 years)
Region championships: 11 (1923, 1984 co, 1990, 1996 co, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 co, 2004 co, 2005 co, 2015 co)
Playoff appearances: 28
Current playoff appearance streak: 6 (2011-2017)
All-time playoff record: 10-28
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Most played rivalry: 71 meetings with Delta dating back to 1933. Delta leads 56-13-2.
Felt’s Factoid(s): North Sanpete racked up 12 sacks to set a state playoff game record against Union in 2001. ... Dave Peck, who has coached Bingham to five state championships, and Mark Wootton, who has directed Mountain Crest to a state title, both began their head coaching careers at North Sanpete in 1984 and 1991, respectively.
- 2017 — 0-10 (0-5 in 3A South – 3A First round)
- 2016 — 4-5 (1-4 in 3A South – Missed playoffs)
- 2015 — 7-5 (4-1 in 3A South – 3A Semifinals)
- 2014 — 4-8 (2-3 in 3A South – 3A Quarterfinals)
- 2013 — 3-8 (2-3 in 3A South – 3A Quarterfinals)
North Sanpete coaching historyComment on this story
- 2016-current — Rhett Bird (4-15)
- 2014-2015 — Rick Wilson (11-13)
- 2012-2013 — Matt Roberts (8-14)
- 2011 — Steve Coburn (4-7)
- 2008-2010 — Casey Jensen (6-24)
- 2005-2007 — Ben Morley (13-19)
- 2004 — Blake Turner (6-5)
- 1991-2003 — Mark Wootton (73-56)
- 1988-1990 — Todd Peacock (17-11)
- 1987 — Gary Stears (2-7)
- 1985-1986 — Dale Barker (1-15)
- 1984 — Dave Peck (7-3)
- 1979-1983 — Paul Tidwell (16-30)
- 1974-1978 — unknown (13-36)
- 1973 — Roger Tree (3-5-1)
- 1967-1972 — unknown (20-33)
- 1965-1966 — Brent Rock (10-7)
- 1960-1964 — unknown (18-14)
- 1956-1959 — Mack Wilkey (16-12)
- 1954-1955 — Don Holbrook (5-7-1)
- 1951-1953 — unknown (2-21)
- 1950 — E.G. Brunger (3-3)
- 1929-1949 — unknown (21-73-4)
- 1927-1928 — Donald Simmons (4-6)
- 1919-1926 — unknown (14-10-2)
- 1915-1916 — unknown (2-3-1)
- 1912-1913 — unknown (1-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2015 — Spencer Applegarth, RB
- 2015 — Taylor Lee, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.