Tim Chappell

The Grand County High School football team suffered its first loss of the season Friday night, Oct. 6, in a 33-28 slug fest at Beaver (7-1, 4-0). As far as rural high school football pundits are concerned, this was the expected outcome. However, even in defeat, the Red Devils (7-1, 3-1) proved they belong in the championship conversation.

The Red Devils have been battling for respect at the state level all year long after getting picked to finish fifth out of six teams in 2A South. They steamrolled every team in their path early on, including a 40-7 beat-down of Millard in their own house, who were at the time ranked higher than Grand. Still, they couldn’t exceed No. 4 in the Deseret News rankings until Delta (6-2, 3-1) lost 56-21 to South Summit last week. In the state’s eyes, there was South Summit and Beaver, and then there was everyone else.

After Grand looked the part of the better team for much of the night on the Beavers’ home field, I can now confidently state that there are South Summit, Beaver and Grand, then there’s everyone else. The Red Devils have joined the top tier of contenders in 2A.

The Red Devils jumped out to a 14-7 lead on the Beavers, which they were about to extend to 21-7 until disaster struck by way of an unforced fumble. One play later, Porter Hollingshead knotted up the score – a 14-point swing against Grand. Even with that misfortune, Grand still had the advantage as the Red Devils were to receive the second-half kickoff in a tie game on the road. Braxton Lebaron picked off sophomore quarterback Bryant Troutt and returned the offering 35 yards for a touchdown to put Beaver up for the first time in the game and Grand behind for the second time all season at 20-14. Grand answered right back as Trent Elmore atoned for an earlier fumble by breaking free on a 72-yard touchdown run, putting Grand up 21-20.

Hollingshead responded again with a long run up the middle to set Beaver up for a score, which after a failed two-point conversion, put Beaver up 26-21. A tipped pass from Troutt ended up in the wrong hands again and Beaver took advantage with a touchdown to go up 33-21.

The Red Devils had four fumbles, three of which were unforced and three of which were recovered by the Beavers, to go along with the two third-quarter interceptions. Without those five turnovers (three unforced), Grand not only beats the mighty Beavers, but does so handily in their own house on senior night, and this is all without two key players in seniors Josh Jones and Brayden Schultz, who both broke their collarbones in the homecoming game.

In the current trajectory of things, Grand is on a course to meet No. 1 South Summit (8-0, 4-0) in the state semifinals on Nov. 4 at Weber State University in Ogden. If the team that played on Friday night shows up and doesn’t make the same mistakes it made against Beaver, a rematch against the Beavers in the state title game on Nov. 11 at Southern Utah University (#reddevilpride’04, #tbirdpride’10) is a real possibility. Grand proved it can hang with the big dogs. If they can channel the Red Devils of ’05 or the Red Devils of ’13, they can become the biggest dogs in the yard.

Even in defeat, Grand proves itself a title contender