The Grand County High School football team unleashed a near-perfect passing game and a consistent rushing attack to earn its first victory of the season in dominating fashion, 42-17, over the Emery Spartans on Friday, Aug. 24, in Moab.
Using a pair of quarterbacks in sophomore Dante Wells (6-of-7, 198 yards, 2 touchdowns), and junior Bryant Troutt (2-of-2, 20 yards, 1 touchdown), the Red Devils (1-1, 1-0 home) exploited a Spartan (0-2, 0-1 away) defense that had no answer for Grand’s deep threat, senior Stacy Randall, who caught five passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. The Red Devils traditionally aren’t known to pass much, perhaps catching the Spartans off-guard, coach Dennis Wells said.
“[In] the first half we were mixing it up with the pass,” he said, “Stacy’s one of the fastest guys in the state so he was able to get behind the defense.”
Randall said he was thrilled to have a breakout performance against the Spartans.
“It felt pretty good,” he said of scoring a pair of touchdowns. “I always used to get them in junior varsity, and to get them in varsity is a whole different feeling.”
The Red Devils scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, the first of which was a 21-yard scamper from senior running back Corbin Arbon just 4:23 into the game. Less than two minutes later, Dante Wells hit Randall down the middle on a 55-yard pass, putting the Red Devils up 14-0.
The Red Devils thwarted Emery with an interception by senior Austin Johnson to get the ball back, but penalties on Grand’s behalf resulted in a punt. Grand got the ball back by forcing a Spartan punt before Wells hit Randall again, this time on a 40-yard touchdown pass for a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter. A short time later, senior Trent Elmore scooped up an Emery fumble and Troutt passed the ball to senior Chris Thompson from five yards out for a score to put Grand up 28-0, just over three minutes before halftime.
The Spartans used their short-to-medium passing game to advance down the field before quarterback Kyson Stilson scrambled and found Jaxton Madsen for a 5-yard touchdown pass, putting Emery on the board behind 28-7. Grand junior Brayden Cloud nearly scored on the ensuing kick return and Randall caught another big pass from Wells before Arbon scored for the second time, on a 9-yard run just before halftime to give Grand a 35-7 intermission advantage.
Cloud nearly broke free again at the beginning of the third quarter, but Grand was later forced to punt in its first drive of the second half. Elmore hit the jackpot on defense again, however, intercepting a pass to the flat and returning it 27 yards for a touchdown to activate the 35-point mercy rule at 42-7.
With the help of a pair of 15-yard penalties against the Red Devils (a horse-collar tackle and roughing the punter), Stilson was able to score a touchdown on a 23-yard scramble to cut into the deficit, 42-14.
Emery recovered an onside kick following the score, then went to the well of trickery again with a fake field goal, but it was thwarted by the Red Devils. Spartan kicker Brock Winter hit a real 22-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for a final score of 42-17.
Coach Wells said Grand let up in the second half because the Red Devils didn’t want to run up the score unnecessarily. He said he wasn’t pleased, however, with the number and type of penalties the Red Devils accumulated, especially in the second half.
The Red Devils had eight different players attempt a rush, none of whom ran the ball more than seven times. Arbon led the way 50 yards on four carries, followed by Troutt with 41 yards on six carries, Elmore with 28 yards on five carries, Cloud with 23 yards on two carries, sophomore Chasee Croasmun with 21 yards on two carries, junior Brayden Troutt with 20 yards on three carries, Wells with 18 yards on seven carries and Thompson with 5 yards on one carry. Cloud also had 92 kick return yards and 17 punt return yards. Junior Trae Meyer, who switched from lineman to tight-end this season, caught two passes for 19 yards. Defensively, the Red Devils were led in tackles by Thompson with 16 and Brayden Troutt with 14.
Coach Wells said a lot of different players will continue to touch the ball for the Red Devils going forward in order to develop depth. The Red Devils got through the game relatively injury-free.
“Anytime we get through a game and no one gets hurt, it’s a good thing,” he said.
Grand plays at American Leadership Academy (ALA) in Spanish Fork on Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. Randall said after being on the wrong end of a lopsided score in their first game, handily beating the Spartans will give the Red Devils back their confidence.
“It’ll boost our confidence way up,” he said. “I know we were down after last week. We’ll get a good week of practice in and get ready for ALA.”
Red Devils vanquish Spartans in home opener
Grand rushing versus Emery
Corbin Arbon 4-50-2
Bryant Troutt 6-41-0
Trent Elmore 5-28-0
Brayden Cloud 2-23-0
Chasee Croasmun 2-21-0
Brayden Troutt 3-20-0
Dante Wells 7-18-0
Chris Thompson 1-5-0
“[In] the first half we were mixing it up with the pass.”