The Grand County High School football team will play host to the Millard Eagles in the 2A quarterfinal on Friday, Oct. 27.
A lot has changed since the Red Devils (8-1) defeated the Eagles (7-3) 40-7 in Fillmore on Sept. 8, most notably the mounting injuries for Grand.
Grand’s key players in the first meeting were seniors Brayden Schultz and Josh Jones. Schultz ran for three touchdowns, while Jones ran for a touchdown and had one of his most prolific passing games, completing seven passes for 148 yards. The Red Devil defense got to the Eagles’ quarterback for four sacks.
Schultz and Jones both suffered broken collarbones in Grand’s homecoming game, paving the way for senior Dakota Johnson to handle an increased workload, while also ushering in the emergence of sophomore quarterback Bryant Troutt and junior running back Trent Elmore into starring roles in 2A’s No. 2 scoring offense. Johnson, who has a 2A-leading 14 rushing touchdowns and is just shy of another milestone with 992 rushing yards, broke his arm in an ATV accident over the bye weekend, leaving the Red Devils to find the next “next man up.”
“(Junior) Corbin Arbon and (freshman) Dante Wells will get some action at running back,” Grand football coach Dennis Wells said, adding that there will be changes at the linebacker positions as well, altering the makeup of Grand’s defense, which has allowed the second-least points in 2A.
Despite the latest and perhaps most difficult injury to overcome, Dennis Wells said the Red Devils still have high morale, noting that at practice on Monday, Oct. 23, the first practice since Johnson’s injury, it was relatively business as usual.
“They all acted fine,” he said. “We know we have a good team. We’ve already lost the other two guys and adjusted. We’re lucky to have depth.”
The Red Devils are undefeated at home, while the Eagles haven’t lost on the road, meaning something has to give. Wells chalked up the Eagles’ road winning percentage to coincidence, believing that regardless of venue, each game’s outcome would have been the same.
The Eagles are on a two-game winning streak since being shut out by South Summit on Oct. 6. Millard beat Gunnison (0-10) 47-21 on Friday, Oct. 13, and beat South Sevier (3-7) 24-7 in the cross-over play-in game on Thursday, Oct. 19. Millard has the No. 6 scoring offense and No. 5 scoring defense in 2A.
Dennis Wells said the Eagles are running a little more option and misdirection offensively than in the first meeting, presenting an immediate test for the new players on defense.
Other 2A quarterfinal games, all of which are scheduled for Oct. 27, are San Juan at South Summit, American Leadership at Beaver and North Sevier at Delta after the home team was successful in all four cross-over play-in games. The winners of Grand-Millard and San Juan-South Summit will meet in one semifinal matchup, while the ALA-Beaver and North Sevier-Delta winners play in the other semifinal, both of which are set for Saturday, Nov. 4, at Weber State University in Ogden. The state title game will take place on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
Red Devils confident, despite mounting injuries
What: Red Devil football versus Millard
When: Friday, Oct. 27, 5 p.m.
Where: Jeff Meador Field at Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East
Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for students. This game is controlled by UHSAA so school and Region 15 passes may not be used to enter the game
We know we have a good team. We’ve already lost the other two guys and adjusted. We’re lucky to have depth.