With their first state football championship in hand since 2006, and fifth overall, the San Juan Broncos and head coach Monty Lee leap head first into the storied Utah high school football annals.
Lee’s Broncos and their 7-0 snow bowl victory over hard luck opponent South Summit require perusing Bronco football history.
The Boys in Blanding first started playing football in 1956, making the playoffs for the first time in 1958, where they ignominiously lost to the Cedar City Redmen, 60-20.
Since then, the Broncos have taken 34 more trips to the state playoffs, winning 48 games and losing 30. Their first of 11 trips to the championship game came just two short years later, where they lost to who would become a familiar finals opponent, Millard, 47-19.
It was a long 17 years before the Broncos would sniff the playoffs again. In 1977, they began a tradition of being in the playoffs nearly every year, even though they lost in the quarterfinals four times. Fans have now seen the Broncos in the playoffs for 33 consecutive years.
The Blue Broncos have lost in the quarterfinals or the first round 15 times and in the semifinals six times. The Broncos have been in the semifinals for 16 of the last 23 years, becoming a fixture there.
The breakthrough came in 1989. Under head coach Art Burtenshaw and assistant Monty Lee, the Broncos captured their first ever state football championship, besting the Hurricane Tigers 34-16 at Mountain View High School, and starting a run of 10 trips to the finals in 21 years.
Five of those trips have resulted in heartbreaking losses, with the number three standing out prominently. Four of those losses were by three points, 9-6 to Delta in 1991, 21-18 to Morgan in 1993, another agonizing 9-6 loss in another snow bowl with Kanab in 1994, and a particularly excruciating loss to Grand County 25-22 in 2005.
South Summit and Millard have been the most common Bronco finals opponent, both taking the field against the Broncos three times each. Millard has won two of the three, but the Broncos have now bested the Wildcats from Kamas all three times.
After the inaugural 1989 state championship, the Broncos broke through again in 1998 and 2000, both over South Summit, in 2006 over Millard and of course, this year, that 7-0 gut check over SS again.
It has been defense that reigned in the past two titles for the Broncos, as they have shut out both opponents, the Millard Eagles, 13-0 and last Saturday’s 7-0 win.
Some more Bronco facts, courtesy of George Felt, author of Utah High School Football:
San Juan’s all-time record (54th season): 340-205-4 (.622); playoff record (35th appearance): 48-30 (.610); championship game record: 5-6.
Monty Lee’s all-time record (seventh season): 62-17 (.785); playoff record (seventh appearance): 9-5 (.643); championship game record: 2-1 (lost to Grand in 2005, defeated Millard in ‘06).
San Juan has scored in 125 consecutive games, second-most in state history. The Broncos last suffered a shutout in 1999, by Manti 40-0. The Broncos would have to more than double their current streak to approach Skyline’s all-time record of 262 straight scoring games, set from 1986-2007.
In the 1998 title clash between these San Juan and South Summit, San Juan mounted the biggest comeback in championship game history. Down 20-0 in the first quarter, the Broncos scored 36 straight to win 36-26.
Broncos claim 2A state football title An interview with San Juan Bronco Coach Monty Lee