This season, both teams return a lot of experience and look to challenge their opponents in new classifications. They’ll both try to make a statement in the opening game of the year.
The San Juan Broncos are more settled this year and have the talent in place to make some noise in their newly-formed Region 12. Head coach Barkley Christensen has high expectations as he begins his third year at the helm.
“I think this will be the most talented team in the three years I’ve coached, so I’m excited,” Christensen told the Deseret News. “These kids have bought into the building the culture of working hard. I’ve never had this many I’ve felt confident in.”
Last year the Broncos finished 6-4 overall. They tied for the 2A South title with a 4-1 record and lost to Millard 17-13 in the 2A quarterfinals.
This year, they’re picked to win the Region 12 championship and contend in the state tournament. The Broncos have relied heavily on underclassmen for the past couple years, but many of those players are now seniors and experience will be a big strength for the 2019 Broncos.
A two-year starter at receiver, senior Shaw Nielson takes over at quarterback. He brings a tremendous understanding of the Bronco offense with him.
With returning offensive starters Porter Ivins, Randall Flavel, and Ryan Imlay, the Broncos hope to improve on the 20.7 points a game in 2018.
Linemen rarely receive a lot of glory, but it’s a fact that football games are won and lost in the trenches. San Juan returns heavy experience on the line with Josh Whitehorse, Isaac Jacobs, Tyson Billsie, and Elijah Lee.
Kian Conway will be the go-to man at running back. He bulked up, and Christensen said he has “exceeded expectations this year… He’s going to be an every-down back.”
All the pieces are in place for a strong season: an experienced line, good quarterback, experienced receivers, and a powerful running back.
Christensen said the defense “needs a little more work. We have experience and we’re big and athletic. We just don’t have a guy right now who wants to get nasty, and that’s what you need on defense.”
San Juan expectations are well-founded. Returning seniors are hungry to take the next step.
They open the season with two tough tests, at Delta Friday, August 16 at 5:30, then hosting Summit Academy on August 23.