The Grand County High School Red Devil football team officially opened practice on July 29 in preparation for the 2019 season, its first in 3A. The Red Devils first game is at home versus Morgan on Friday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.

The Red Devils return a talented group of players from their 2018 2A runner-up campaign, but the team only has 31 players as of the first day of practice. GCHS football coach Dennis Wells said this puts the Red Devils behind the eight-ball, especially if a key player gets hurt.

“We have a good thing going — we have some good talent,” he said. “But we have no depth. If someone gets hurt, it could be a long season.”

Wells said he would love to have 50 players, but having even 40 would put GCHS in a much better position.

The Red Devils are no stranger to being small in numbers, having dressed only 28 players for the state 2A title game last year, while South Summit had about 75 on the other sideline (The Red Devils host South Summit on Sept. 6 in a rematch of last year's title game). Among returning players are starting quarterback and leading rusher Bryant Troutt, as well as his twin brother Brayden, one of the team’s leading tacklers. Brayden Troutt, however, is coming off a torn ACL, and isn’t fully healed as of the beginning of practice. Some other key upperclassmen will be seniors Brayden Cloud, Trae Meyer and Tayson Wilson, along with juniors Dante Wells, Ryelan Jones, Jaymmin Hester and Chasee Croasmun. Wells said he also expects to rely on a number of sophomores in varsity action.

GCHS’s region has two familiar region foes from 2A in San Juan and South Sevier, who are also making the jump in the new alignment, as well as 3A incumbents Carbon, Emery and Richfield. The Red Devils have frequently played Carbon and Emery in preseason play over the past several years, handily dispatching them the past few meetings.

“Our region is definitely nowhere near as strong as the northern region,” Wells said. “We’e got a good shot in region. We’ve just got to get through our preseason.”

The Red Devils face a daunting preseason, opening at home versus Morgan. The Trojans are the preseason No. 1 team in 3A, according to the Deseret News. In addition to Morgan and South Summit, GCHS also faces Providence Hall, Union and 3A runner-up North Sanpete.

The Red Devils will not have a junior varsity team this season, opting to field only varsity and C-Team, Wells said.

“We can’t afford to get any juniors hurt (playing JV games),” Wells said. “We’ll probably pick up some more C-Team games, possibly against Emery, Carbon and Richfield, the same weeks we play their varsity teams.”