by Scott Boyle
“We’ll be right there at the end of the year,” says long time San Juan football coach Monty Lee, who is in his fifth year as head coach. “This team will uphold the tradition that many players and teams before them have built.”
The players of the 2007 version of the Broncos begin their 2006 title defense this Friday night in Blanding against the 2006 1A runnerup Kanab Cowboys.
The Broncos will be trying to replace the cogs of that 10-2 title team of a year ago, particularly Tranner Sharpe and Marley Haws, whose “gaming experience will be missed” at the beginning of the season.
However, Lee expects that this year’s team will find themselves as the season progresses. The intimidation factor the juniors sometimes feel with the seniors wears off as experience is earned.
Six offensive players to watch in 2007 include junior Kohler Black, who will man the all-important fullback spot in the powerful Bronco offense. “The kid is the most physically sound athlete,” marvels Lee, “We find him constantly in the weight room.”
Another junior, Nathan Einerson, brings quickness and experience to his running back spot.
Senior twin linemen Matt and Scott Jeppson (“solid power and strength”) and senior Brinton Sharpe (“the biggest player in 2A at over 300 pounds”) along with another senior,Marcus Conway, give the Broncos an offensive line that will average 240 pounds.
Look for the Broncos to be dominant between the tackles, but “if teams slow us down inside, they better hitch their wagons cuz we’ll be running around them,” warns Lee.
Four players to watch on defense. Defense is where Lee puts junior Kyle Johnson, “the smartest kid I’ve ever coached.” Johnson will man the free safety spot and be the backup quarterback.
San Juan coaches are also looking for great things from junior Oliver Parker from his outside linebacker spot.
The Jeppson boys will be key cogs in that Bronco defense as well.
Dane Lyman, who is returning for his senior year at quarterback, is Lee’s most improved player. “His field savvy and field awareness is outstanding.”
Junior Terron Jack has also shown great progress, running better, crisper patterns from his receiver spot.
Juniors Lewis Sharpe and Jayson Palmer are newcomers to varsity ball. Lee has been pleased with them in practice, Sharpe at running back and Palmer at receiver.
Always interested in improving, Lee has scheduled some first-rate preseason games. The Broncos, according to Lee, will be hardened by games with Kanab, Cortez, and Monticello in the preseason. “Cedar City will be some tremendous competition,” he adds. “We need to be tested.”
Then, of course, in league play, Millard will be the team to beat, along with San Juan. Moab, Richfield and Beaver will all be great games.
Perspective: Coach Lee, as mentioned, begins his fifth year as Bronco head coach, although he has been coaching football and other sports in Utah for over 25 years.
Why do you do it coach? “That’s a good question,” he remarks. “Arrogance,” he smiles. If I gave it up and the next coach that came along was as successful as we have been, then I would finally realize I’m not half as good as I thought I was.” he says tongue in cheek.
No, Lee coaches because he loves football and the purposes for which it stands. “It signifies and epitomizes character building, bringing together people from all walks of life. It is one of the greatest teachers coaching kids the right things. I do it because of what it does for kids.”
Lee says he doesn’t care about the championships, records and wins. He hopes the kids are better from being a part of the program. Coaches don’t do it for the accolades, according to Lee, or their own agendas, because to do so would disgrace the game.
In addition, Lee gives all the credit to his assistants. “They make the program,” he says. “We have probably the most experienced coaching staff in America,” he says of the staff that boasts nearly 100 years of coaching football, mostly at San Juan. “I get the accolades when we win and the boo birds when we lose, but our program is built on the shoulders of our assistants,
Shane Shumway, Ricky Eldredge, Ryan Nielson, Chip Sharpe, and Miles Harrison.” See you soon at one of the two most exciting places to be in Blanding this time of year. The other? The volleyball court, but that’s for another day.