Note: Grand County finished with a 9-2 overall record in 2017 and was second in 2A South with a 4-1 record. It lost to South Summit 47-9 in the 2A semifinals.
MOAB — Grand’s football team ended last season wondering what if.
Had his team avoided key injuries late in the season, coach Dennis Wells believes Grand would’ve beaten Beaver late in the season to win the region title. And then, it might’ve been at full strength when meeting South Summit in the state championship instead of half strength in the semifinal loss.
Wells knows that injuries are part of the game, and even though the timing of those key injuries last year was discouraging, the silver lining is that a lot of players return with varsity experience this season.
Had the injuries not occurred, question marks would surround those two key players heading into the 2018 season. Instead, they’re proven commodities that Grand will count on for big contributions.
The pair is among six returning starters on offense this season, while the defense also returns six starters.
“We’re going to have some pretty good athletes this year, and if we stay healthy we should be pretty decent,” said Wells.
Three of those athletes are all vying for the QB position this fall. Even though Troutt got the nod after Jones’ injury last year, he’s in competition with senior Andrew Hansen and sophomore Dante Wells for the reps this season.
Troutt is suspended for the first game after being ejected in last year’s semifinal, which could give the other two a leg up in making a good first impression.
A year ago Grand had a very formidable offensive line, and three of those players are back in addition to one of its key blocking tight ends. The experience could help Grand pick up where it left off a year ago as the second-highest scoring offense in 2A averaging 35.6 ppg.
Defensively Grand also ranked second in 2A by only allowing 15.1 ppg, and there is enough returning talent in the trenches and at linebacker to duplicate that terrific season.
Grand Red Devils at a glance
Coach: Dennis Wells is entering his 17th season as head coach at his alma mater. His record in those previous 16 years is 84-87 including a state title in 2005.
Grand Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Dennis Wells
2017 offensive production: 35.6 ppg (2nd in 2A)
- 6 returning starters
- Shotgun Wing-T offense
Key offensive returning starters
- Trent Elmore (RB): Became a full-time starter midway through the season and finished the year with 590 yards and six TDs.
- Jarom Shumway (OL): Will be a three-year starter on the offensive line for Grand.
Returning offensive starters
- Bryant Troutt (QB/RB)
- Trent Elmore (RB)
- Brody Williams (C)
- Jarom Shumway (RG)
- Jarrett Reidhead (OL) – played TE last year
- Trae Meyer (TE) – play OL last year
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Andrew Hansen (QB/RB)
- Dante Wells (QB/RB)
- Brayden Troutt (RB)
- Chris Thompson (FB)
- Brayden Cloud (WR)
- Corbin Arbon (WR)
- Stacy Randall (TE)
- Austin Johnson (TE)
- Clynn Backus (OL)
Coach Wells comments on three-way QB competition:
“I think it’s going to be good because we have a third one that is every bit as good as the other two and he’s a sophomore, Dante Wells. There’s going to be a three-way battle for the spot. Bryant Troutt is a good runner, him and Dante both, and Andrew is good at running the offense, he’s not quite the runner as the other two are.”
Coach Wells comments on strong returning experience on the O-line:
“The line, and I’m including tight ends cause the way our offense works, should be pretty good, and I think our quarterbacks and running backs should be able to hit those holes.”
Coach Wells comments on RB Trent Elmore:
“I expect some good things out of him. He stepped in when Brayden Schultz went down last year and did a really good job. He didn’t play much running back the first five and a half games, so the (590) yards he got came in about the last six games of the season or so. If his hammy stays healthy he’ll be good.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:
Grand passed for under 800 yards last season, which was about par for where the Wing-T program has been in recent years. The coaching staff doesn’t suddenly expect to air it out this season, but at the same time Wells acknowledges that his team needs to be a better threat to throw the ball. It’s the only way to keep teams from stacking the box and stuffing the run. Whoever gets the nod at quarterback will likely dictate how much Grand ultimately throws the football.
Grand Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Scott Horton
2017 defensive production: 15.1 ppg (2nd in 2A)
- 5 returning starters
- 3-4 defense
Key defensive returning starters
- Brayden Troutt (MLB): Finished second on the team with 58 tackles last season in addition to three sacks.
- Chris Thompson (MLB): Was Grand’s leading tackler a year ago with 59 tackles to go along with his two sacks.
Returning defensive starters
- Brayden Troutt (MLB)
- Chris Thompson (MLB)
- Trent Elmore (OLB)
- Jarett Reidhead (NG)
- Jarom Shumway (DL)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Trey Mayer (DL)
- Corbin Arbon (CB)
- Brayden Cloud (CB)
- Andrew Hansen (S)
- Dante Wells (S)
- Bryant Troutt (S)
- Stacy Randall (OLB)
- Austin Johnson (OLB)
Coach Wells comments on returning linebackers Chris Thompson and Brayden Troutt:
“They’re both really good about flying around all over. I think that will be a strength as long as we plug holes and take care of the gaps.”
Coach Wells comments on nose guard Jarett Reidhead:
“He does a good job because he jams up the center and reads the play and gets down the line. He usually draws double teams because if they don’t double-team him then our linebackers are making the plays. It starts with the nose guard and Jarett does a really good job with that.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:
Grand’s defense appears to have plenty of depth and talent on the defensive line and linebacker, but the big question is in the secondary. Last year’s primary starters all graduated, which leaves some pretty big holes to fill at the back end of the defense. Coach Wells believes the talent is there, the players just lack the experience. They’ll gain that experience in a big hurry in Week 1 when Grand travels to 3A juggernaut Morgan. It figures to feature one of the best passing games in 3A this season and that secondary will feel the pressure early.
Coaches preseason 2A South straw poll: Second
Deseret News 2A South prediction: Second
Key Region Game: vs. Beaver, Oct. 5 (Week 8)
Bottom line: Expectations for Grand last season were very high, but injuries prevented it from fulfilling that potential. This year expectations are a bit tempered, but not by much, and if this team can avoid the season-ending type injuries it will compete for both the region and state title.
- Aug. 17 — MORGAN, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — at Emery, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — at American Leadership, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — MILLARD, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — SOUTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — SAN JUAN, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Grand
All-time record: 424-381-18 (97 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: 52
Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2015-2017)
All-time playoff record: 31-51
State championships: 1 (2005)
State championship record: 1-6
Most played rivalry: 72 meetings with San Juan dating back to 1956. San Juan leads 43-29.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Grand’s Tanner Brown is one of just three Utah players to rush for more than 5,000 career yards. He ran for 5,060 from 2003-06.
- 2017 — 9-2 (4-1 in 2A South - 2A Semifinals)
- 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)
Grand coaching history
- 2002-current — Dennis Wells (84-87)
- 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 years1 comment on this story
- 2017 — Dante Wells, K
- 2017 — Nick Downard, LB
- 2017 — Gage Hansen, OL
- 2017 — Dakota Johnson, RB
- 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
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.