The Utah High School Activities Association announced on July 28 that fall sports are on track to proceed as scheduled, which means the Grand County High School Red Devils will compete in interscholastic competition for the first time since March. The boys golf team will compete on Aug. 12 at the Round Valley Golf Course in Morgan, the girls tennis team will compete in a tournament in Roosevelt on Aug. 14 and 15, and the football team plays at Beaver on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
This year’s football team has 33 players on its roster, battling a low turnout similar to that of the past few years. With just six seniors and six juniors, there are few returning key players from a team that went 5-6 last season and got eliminated in the first round of the 3A playoffs. GCHS returning players combined for only 209 rushing yards last season, highlighting the inexperience the offense will have.
While slightly more experienced on defense, leading returning tackler Dylan Harrison had just 56 tackles last year.
“We don’t have a lot of experience on either side of the ball,” GCHS football coach Dennis Wells said. “We’ve got to try to figure out every position.”
At this point in preseason practices, senior Dante Wells is projected to be the starting quarterback, while also playing strong safety on defense. Other seniors Harrison, Ryelan Jones, Chasee Croasmun, Jaymmin Hester and Cody Knudsen are also expected to see lots of action, especially on defense.
The junior class on this year’s team is highlighted by Blane Thompson and Chance Arbon, both of whom are projected to see action on both sides of the ball. In addition, several sophomores are going to asked to step up, including linebacker and backup quarterback Brayden Castor, as well as Trent Nelson and Remington Roberts.
“A whole lot of sophomores will get a lot of experience this year,” coach Wells said.
In preseason voting, GCHS was picked to win the Region 12 title, although Wells said he realistically expects to take third or fourth, given the team’s youth and inexperience.
“Were going to have to work to win games this year,” he said. “We typically start out slow when we have a young team, while we figure out what we have. I haven’t given up on this year’s team winning region by any means.”
With all sports following extra protocols and precautions thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, football is no different. According to UHSAA’s “Return to Play” guidelines published July 28, all athletes and coaches will have their temperatures checked at various intervals, including before every practice, before loading the bus for road games, and before entering the locker room for all games.
The GCHS football team’s first home game is versus Union on Friday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.