The Grand County High School football team kicks off the 2017 season this week with high expectations as the Red Devils return a large majority of their 5-6 team from 2016, which showed promise when healthy, but was too often cut down by injury.
The Red Devils, when at full strength, proved last year that they could compete with most teams in 2A and return nine starters on each side of the ball. Senior quarterback Josh Jones is a key figure after spending most of 2016 on the shelf. Other key players include center Derrick Tsosie, who missed all of 2016 with an injury, as well as fellow linemen Gage Hansen and Jarom Shumway. Key skill players include Dakota Johnson, Nick Downard, Brayden Schultz, Trent Elmore and Bruin Meador.
“We didn’t lose very much from last year,” coach Dennis Wells said. “We basically have the whole team back. We have depth at quarterback, running back and receiver.”
Wells noted the team isn’t very deep on the offensive line because a few expected contributors chose not to play football.
The Deseret News picked the Red Devils to again finish fifth in 2A South, although it noted that any of the four teams from 2-5 have a strong chance at second place. Two-time defending state champion Beaver is expected to easily defend its region crown. Wells said he is glad that Grand was picked fifth as it gives the team motivation.
“I think we’re a good football team and we’ll finish at least second in the region,” he said. “Beaver will be very tough to beat, but by no means are we conceding to them. I told the guys, ‘You want respect? Go out and prove it.’”
Wells said he believes the order of finish in 2A South between Enterprise, South Sevier, San Juan and Grand will come down to who wants it more.
“If we come out hungry and stay hungry, we’ll be a very good team.” he said.
First up for the Red Devils this season is the endowment game versus Monticello on Friday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. The Red Devils beat Monticello 21-7 in last year’s season opener.
“Monticello will be a very good test,” Wells said. “They’ve got some very strong skill players.”
Although 2A South was unchanged by the UHSAA realignment, 2A North traded Summit Academy to 3A for state runner-up Delta. Wells said, however, that the change won’t affect the Red Devils until deep into the playoffs, depending on where they finish in region play.
Grand picked fifth in competitive 2A South
“I think we’re a good football team and we’ll finish at least second in the region. Beaver will be very tough to beat, but by no means are we conceding to them. I told the guys ‘You want respect? Go out and prove it.’”
When: Friday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East