The Grand County High School football team defeated 2A South foe Beaver 21-0 in Moab on Friday, Oct. 5, setting up a region title game versus San Juan in each team’s regular season finale.
The Red Devils (5-3, 3-1 2A South) and the Beavers (5-3, 2-2) held each other scoreless in the first half of Friday’s game, both using timely turnovers to thwart the other’s scoring chances. In the first quarter, Grand senior Bailey Shelton intercepted a Beaver pass deep in Red Devil territory – a favor which the Beavers returned as Grand was marching early in the second quarter.
The Beavers couldn’t capitalize on their interception, however, as GCHS senior Andrew Hansen recovered a fumble for the Red Devils. After Grand punted, Red Devil sophomore Dante Wells recovered a Beaver fumble, but the Beavers intercepted a pass thrown into the end zone. Grand junior Brayden Cloud intercepted a pass shortly before halftime and almost returned it for a touchdown, but the Beavers forced and recovered a fumble before he could cross the goal line, preserving the tie.
Shelton collected another pick early in the third quarter – his second multiple-interception game this season – and after a 55-yard screen pass to senior Trent Elmore, junior Bryant Troutt finally activated the scoreboard with a one-yard run, putting Grand up 7-0.
After forcing a punt, the Red Devils built upon their momentum as senior Corbin Arbon sprinted down the left sideline for a 75-yard score, doubling the Red Devil lead at 14-0. After another punt, Elmore caught his second 55-yard pass of the quarter, this one for a touchdown, for a score of 21-0. The Red Devils spent most of the fourth quarter running down the clock for the shutout win.
“We knew they couldn’t get anything going on our defense, so we just had to get our offense going,” Troutt said. “We knew we had to come out firing.”
The Red Devils were able to keep the Beavers off the scoreboard despite missing their leading tackler in Troutt’s twin brother, Brayden Troutt, as well as assistant coach Scott Horton, who missed the game because of a family emergency.
“I never would have guessed we’d be able to hold them scoreless,” GCHS football coach Dennis Wells said. “Our (defensive backs) did a good job in coverage and the defense kept us in the game until the offense could get going.”
Senior Chris Thompson was Grand’s leading tackler with 12 tackles, while senior Jarett Reidhead had 11 and senior Austin Johnson had 10. Reidhead and Elmore each had a quarterback sack as well. Offensively, Arbon had 109 yards rushing on nine carries, while Bryant Troutt had 76 yards on 25 carries. The Red Devils had 49 offensive plays, while Beaver had 67, but 21 of Beaver’s plays were incomplete passes. Troutt attempted eight passes for GCHS, completing three of them for 115 yards.
The win sets up Grand to host a showdown with 2A South leader and archrival San Juan (6-2, 4-0), in which the winning team will clinch the region title. The Broncos can finish no lower than second, while the Red Devils finish first with a win, second with a loss and an Enterprise loss to Beaver, and third with a loss and an Enterprise victory. The top two teams in each region get a week off before hosting a quarterfinal game, while the third- and fourth-place teams in each region host cross-over play-in games versus the fifth- and sixth-place teams.
“It’s a must-win game,” Bryant Troutt said. “Our goal all season has been ‘region or bust.’ We’d be unsatisfied with anything else.”
The Broncos quarterback Corbin Palmer is second in 2A in passing yards (1,389 yards and 14 touchdowns), while two receivers, Shaw Nielson and Porter Ivins, each have five touchdowns. Nielson also has five interceptions on defense. The Broncos have had success getting to the quarterback, boasting four players with at least four sacks.
“They’re good at what they do,” Wells said. “Their coach, Barkley Christensen, played for them earlier in the decade. He’s going back now to what coach Monty Lee was doing because of the personnel they have right now. They’re just getting better and better as the season goes on.”
Wells said he told the team that nothing changed for them, despite their loss to Enterprise last week.
“Win or loss against Enterprise, we still have beat Beaver and San Juan to win the region title,” he said. “We want the region title to be on the opposite side of the bracket from (two-time defending state champion) South Summit so we don’t see them until the state title game, if we make it that far,” Wells said. “The kids are as pumped and ready as ever. I think they know what’s on the line.”
Troutt said he is looking forward to playing the Broncos.
“They’re a really good team, but I think we got ’em,” he said. “We think we can beat anyone, any week. We’re going to work hard and hopefully come away with a title.”
Grand to play archrival San Juan for region title
What: Red Devil football versus San Juan
When: Friday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School football field, 608 S. 400 East