Broncos compete in All-State game
by Barkley Christensen
San Juan High School Head Football Coach
The Utah Senior Bowl 1A/2A/3A All-State football game has always been highly anticipated by players and fans every year since its beginnings in the early 1980s.
It allows just-graduated seniors who received All-State honors one final chance to strap on the pads and helmets and duke it out on the gridiron.
Over the years, the game has been played in a variety of formats, such as a combined 1A and 2A team against the 3A, and 1A-3A North vs 1A-3A South.
Many local players from San Juan County have had the opportunity to participate in the game and it has always been a great experience for them.
Unfortunately, that all came to an end when COVID hit and the game was not played in the 2019-2022 seasons. But this year everything came together and the game finally returned.
The format this season was to pit 1A-3A North region teams against 1A-3A South region teams. San Juan Head Coach Barkley Christensen and his staff were selected to coach the South team.
After coaches sent in their nominations for the game, the teams were assembled and invitations were sent. Three players from San Juan High School accepted the invitation: Jerzy Nieves, Collin Baker, and Hughston Ketchum.
Coach Christensen, his staff, and those three players practiced in Richfield for two days before playing the game this past Saturday, July 1 at Snow College.
The South team featured players from San Juan, Millard, Delta, Kanab, Milford, South Sevier, Richfield, Juab, Canyon View, and North Sanpete high schools.
The game between the North and South was hard-fought and competitive. All-stars from both teams put their skills on full display.
Nieves, Baker, and Ketchum looked like they hadn’t missed a beat since their state championship game and played like they were in midseason form. Baker and Nieves combined for 12 catches and over 200 yards.
Baker scored the South team’s only touchdown of the game. Ketchum blocked hard and created big running lanes for running backs Morgan Wade (Millard) and Ryder Rogers (Delta).
The North team won the game 14-8 but the South gave them everything they could handle. It came down to a last-second play with the South team in possession on the North ten yard line.
On fourth down with only 30 seconds to go, coach Christensen dialed up a play to get Baker the ball on a route he had run perfectly over his time with San Juan.
The North team sent Grantsville standout and Snow College commit Ethan Rainer on a cornerback blitz. He hit the South quarterback Emery Thorson (Richfield) as he loaded up to throw to a wide open Baker in the end zone, thwarting the South’s victory bid.
Overall, it was a great experience for the boys and it gave them one final chance to play high school football.
Nieves, Baker, and Ketchum talked about how much fun it was to play with the guys they played against for four years.
We look forward to many more All-State games with kids from San Juan County.