Impressive squad of local student athletes receive All-state honors

An impressive 25 San Juan County student athletes were named to All-state teams for the 2021 fall sports season that recently came to a close.

The Deseret News released its annual list of the top Utah high school athletes over the past couple months based on coaches’ votes from a list of nominated players from each team.

The San Juan Record is proud to present each of the local honorees with a photo and comments from their coach or other significant individual in their lives.

Jensen Grover
2A Player of the Year
Running Back / Linebacker | San Juan High School senior
214 carries, 1,353 yards, 17 TDs, 98 tackles, 14 tackles for loss

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “When you think of the traits of a hard-nosed football player – toughness, relentlessness, skilled, never stops, hard worker, etc. – that is what Jensen has.

“He was a kid who never came off the field, often was hurt, and played through it. He showed up every single day with an eagerness to get better. He often was a player that opposing teams would game plan to stop while he was on offense, and a guy they would game plan to try and block when he was on defense.

“His play on the field was a big part to our state championship run, but his leadership in the offseason and in practice all year long was also a major key.”

Jace Palmer
2A First Team
Quarterback | San Juan High School senior
3,020 pass yards, 41 TDs / 565 rush yards, 10 TDs

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Jace is a kid who was asked the biggest tasks on the team all year long and more than rose up to the challenge.

“With myself being the head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback coach, poor Jace had to deal with the tough demands I put on him every week and especially Friday nights.

“He impressed me every week I got to coach him, starting clear back from his freshman year. He had an amazing senior campaign leading his team to a state championship.

“He is a very level-headed, competitive, and talented kid who I was very lucky to get to know and coach. I will miss Jace behind center next year, but he more than paved the path for how quarterback play is supposed to work at San Juan High!”

Ladd Ivins
2A First Team
Wide Receiver | San Juan High School senior
96 receptions, 1,373 yards, 15 TDs

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Ladd is by far one of the most impressive kids I have ever coached. He’s not big in stature, but he’s the biggest-hearted kid you will ever see compete. He was phenomenal all year for us on both sides of the ball. Our team had a saying: ‘When in doubt, Ladd it out.’

“If we were ever in a third- or fourth-and-long situation and needed a big play, Ladd almost always delivered. He played multiple games with broken ribs and never complained or made excuses; just put his head down and went to work.

“Ladd was a leader all year by example. I constantly hear a lot of the younger kids on our team say they want to be just like Ladd. Kids like Ladd I would imagine only come around once in a lifetime for some coaches. I am definitely glad I got the chance to coach him.”

Chance Hoggard
2A First Team
Offensive Lineman | San Juan High School senior
19 pancake blocks, helped his team pass for 3,114 yards, rush for 2,424

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Chance moved here this year from Aztec, NM and obviously made an immediate impact for us on both sides of the ball.

“Chance came into our program with so much natural gifted talent and he bonded with our team and coaches almost immediately. He was a very coachable kid all year and played any position we asked of him.

“It seems whenever we needed a huge play on defense, Chance delivered. He made a huge fumble recovery in the state game, a huge tackle for a safety against Delta, and countless others.

“I am so glad I got the opportunity to know and coach Chance this year. He played a huge part in our championship.”

Bronsen Snyder
2A First Team
Defensive Lineman | San Juan High School senior
85 tackles, 22 sacks, 6 fumbles caused

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Big B is a man of many talents, but his best talent in my opinion is destroying opposing teams’ quarterbacks. I said all year long, ‘I am glad that guy is on our team. He would be a nightmare to game plan against.’

“Bronsen is not only a really good football player, he is an even better human being. Voted one of our team captains, he is as nice as they come (off the field). But when the pads go on, he turns into an absolute beast.

“He led the nation in sacks for weeks on end and was a blocking tight end, paving the way for our backs all year long. He also caught a clutch touchdown our first-time beating Beaver, helping end their win streak.

“I will miss coaching and getting to talk to Bronsen every day. He has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Tyler Bayles
2A First Team
Defensive Lineman | San Juan High School senior
74 tackles, 16 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, 1 punt block

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Tyler is a kid who was very undersized for the positions that he plays. He makes up for it by having a tremendous work ethic and giant heart on the field.

“He always gives maximum effort and ended up having a dominant year on both sides of the ball. Tyler is one of the most coachable and kind kids I have ever coached.

“Tyler has shown our coaching staff and teammates nothing but the utmost respect since arriving at San Juan High as a freshman. Tyler was so fun to coach because of his upbeat attitude and warrior-like effort he displayed every Friday night. He was very much deserving of this award.”

Magnum Nielson
2A First Team
Linebacker | San Juan High School junior
137 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Magnum is the epitome of the term ‘tough.’ Magnum hurt his shoulder his sophomore year and never fully got it fixed.

“He returned to our program this last year as a junior and started for us at middle linebacker. He got his shoulder looked at again, and it came out he had a torn labrum for the last season and a half.

“He continued to play through the pain and ended up leading our whole team in tackles with well over 100.

“He is one of those players who was born to play the sport of football. He plays so fast and so natural. He was our only junior to get First Team All-state and it was very much deserved.”

Cooper Black
2A Second Team
Wide Receiver | San Juan High School senior
52 receptions, 838 yards, 12 TDs

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Cooper is one of the most talented and competitive kids I have ever coached. Coop wants to win at everything he does and makes everything a competition which makes him a great player.

“Looking back at our team’s highlight reel from the season, Coop had some of the most phenomenal catches I have ever seen. He also was a kid who got it done on both sides of the ball for us. We would usually put him on the other team’s best receiver, and he did a good job at that all season as well.

Every year, the All-state team leaves off very deserving players from its First Team list. We would have all liked to see Coop get the First Team honor that he deserved, but he played a huge part in our state championship and should be very proud of all his accomplishments the last four years.”

Collin Baker
2A Second Team
Cornerback | San Juan High School junior
4 interceptions (1 for TD), 111 int yards, 71 tackles, 3 blocked FGs

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Collin is a kid who made a huge burst on the scene for us this year. He has always been a very solid player but the first time we played Beaver he had a very big coming-out party.

“He doesn’t weigh or lift the most, but he hits harder than anyone you will see. He ended the season for us with multiple interceptions, and tons of highlight-reel hits.

“I know the kids from Beaver will forever have #22 burned into their memories. Collin is as good as a kid as they come. He was the only junior on our team voted to team captain and he absolutely is liked by anyone who meets him.

“Next year you will see Collin getting things done on both sides of the ball. But I am fired up he was honored this year. Well deserved.”

Jerzy Nieves
2A Honorable Mention
Wide Receiver | San Juan High School junior
29 receptions, 415 yards, 6 TDs

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Jerzy is one of the most naturally-gifted athletes I have ever coached. He’s so gifted he has the ability to make an impact or a big play at any moment.

“He may not have been consistently getting 100 or 200 yards a game, but he always had that ‘it’ factor to pop off at any second. That is exactly what he did in the state championship game.

“Jerzy made two of the best catches I have ever seen, and both ended in touchdowns. He was a huge part of our success all season long and when teams were able to take away some of our other weapons, Jerzy would show them why we are so dangerous.

“Jerzy and his athleticism are so fun to coach, and we are continuing to think of ways to feed him next season.”

Taylor Black
2A Honorable Mention
Offensive Lineman | San Juan High School sophomore
25 pancake blocks, helped his team pass for 3,114 yards, rush for 2,424

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “The only sophomore for us to make the All-state team, Taylor ‘Yummy’ Black was a consistent force all season long. He has started varsity at San Juan the last two years and is the only freshman who has played every offensive snap since I have been the coach.

“This last year as a sophomore he made the most highlight-reel blocks on our team. He was consistently putting opposing teams’ players on the dirt and earning the ‘pancake’ stat. I always game plan to run behind Taylor because he is just physically gifted. He is another one of our kids born to play the game of football.

“He is one of the most skilled lineman I have ever coached and he is only a sophomore! I am so excited to see what he will do in the next two years. #Surf”

Maddax Lee
2A Honorable Mention
Offensive Lineman | San Juan High School senior
6 pancake blocks, helped his team pass for 3,114 yards, rush for 2,424

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Maddax is one of those kids who is a born leader. People will gravitate towards Maddax’s energy.

“Fortunately for us, he has a very upbeat and competitive type of energy, and our team would feed off that. Starting for us at left tackle the last two years he was a phenomenal lineman who improved every single game.

“Maddax is one of those kids who has never taken a step backwards with his football development. He got better every year, every game, and every practice. He was a fun kid to coach and I am very glad to see him earn this award and help be a senior leader on this state championship team.”

Landon Black
2A Honorable Mention
Linebacker | San Juan High School senior
64 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery

Head Coach Barkley Christensen: “Landon is one of those kids every coach dreams to coach. He’s one of the most respectful, hardworking, coachable, tough kids who has came through this program.

“The value of Landon and his play on the field and what he meant to this team does not show up on the stat sheet. Sure he had a lot of tackles, yards, and touchdowns.

“But what you don’t see on the stat sheet is his physicality every play blocking or taking on blocks on defense.

“You don’t see his work ethic in the weight room and all offseason. Also, when I asked him to take on the role of more of a blocking slot and take on blocking linebackers he did it with a smile because he would do anything to help his team win.

“With his attitude, Landon deserves all the accolades in the world and I am very proud and happy to see him recognized with this award.”

Logan Draper
1A First Team
Wide Receiver | Monticello High School senior
73 receptions, 1,015 yards, 9 TDs

Head Coach Reed Anderson: “Logan was a big player for us this year. He passed, caught, and ran on offense; returned kicks on special teams; and played defensive back and linebacker for us.

“He led 1A in receiving yards with 1,015 and receptions with 73. I believe he is the first 1,000-yard receiver at Monticello. Teams eventually double- and triple-teamed him and he still was able to make plays. He also led our team in tackles.

“But the most important aspect of Logan on our team this year was his leadership. He and Tyler Thayn really stepped up on the field duties when Devin [Hatch] went down. He was instrumental in keeping his teammates calm and moving forward.

“We had to eventually play a lot of younger kids whose eyes were wide with the speed of the game at the varsity level. Logan was the one to help them see what they could do and help them do it.”

Devin Hatch
1A Second Team
Defensive Back | Monticello High School senior
4 interceptions, 13 tackles

Head Coach Reed Anderson: “Having a quarterback coming back for his third year as a starter is a coach’s dream. With Devin at the helm and most of our receivers coming back we would be able to spend less time at the beginning of the year installing the offense.

“Devin understood the goals of the offense and could make many pre-snap adjustments, giving us the chalk last and it certainly made a difference in those first two games. Devin audibled many times and each time it gave us the yardage we needed to keep the drive alive. 

“He plays with intensity and power. His teammates followed and tried to match that attitude. It was something we sorely missed when he went down. Defensively he was in the top for interceptions in 1A despite playing just a few games. He has the smarts and instinct of a quarterback and so he preyed upon quarterbacks on the defensive side.”

Landon Ewart
1A Honorable Mention
Wide Receiver | Monticello High School junior
36 receptions, 602 yards, 6 TDs

Head Coach Reed Anderson: “This was the year we knew Landon could have a breakout year, and he did. He is a big target with great hands.

“Devin and Jaymac [JD McDonald] were able to put the ball up high and let Landon go up and rebound it. As tall as he is, he is very slippery, difficult to tackle, and faster than he seems. 

“He outran many defenders this year and turned first downs into touchdowns.

“He started to come into his own on the defensive side as well. He ended the year with a few interceptions and was hunting the ball well.

“All of Landon’s skills you hope to see out of a player by the time they graduate, but he has developed them sooner and it will make him a very dangerous player next year.”

JD McDonald
1A Honorable Mention
Punter | Monticello High School sophomore
10/11 point after tries, 1/1 field goals (40 yards)

Head Coach Reed Anderson: “Jaymac was thrust into a situation that wasn’t ideal. Replacing [quarterback] Devin [Hatch] was a huge task and he handled it very well. He settled into the offense quicker than we could have hoped.

“He improved tremendously throughout the year, and we were able to open up the offense more and more each week. He was able to win the confidence of his teammates and with Logan [Draper], Tyler [Thayn], and Tate [Ramsay’s] help lead the team.

“He eventually became our punter as we needed to quick punt much more throughout the year. His ability to kick came in handy and made teams play defense rather than returning a punt.

“His ability to kick PATs and field goals made him invaluable on the special teams side as well.”

ALL-STATE VOLLEYBALL
Ali Barry
1A Honorable Mention
Middle Blocker | Monticello High School junior
102 kills, 43 blocks, 12 assists

Head Coach Kelli Keyes: “Ali is a great volleyball player. She puts in extra work and time whenever she needs it.

“Her will to improve and to win is contagious. Ali can get the team hyped up through an amazing block, kill, or just her smile and attitude.

“No matter what the situation, I can always rely on her to give it everything she has. She helps motivate other girls while leaving the coaching to the coaches.

“Sometimes she may seem a bit unhappy but I’ve learned it’s just because she wants to do her very best and win. Not only is Ali a great volleyball player and a crucial part of our team, but she’s a wonderful human being.

“Congrats Ali Kate!”

ALL-STATE CROSS COUNTRY
Weston Manygoats
1A First Team
Whitehorse High School senior

Family member Fenesia Manygoats: “As a Diné young man, Weston Wallace Manygoats, is Todachini, born for Ashihii, Bitaani his cheii, Tachini his nali. He is from Red Mesa. His parents are Felix Manygoats and Darlene Begay. He is a humble and dedicated person whether it’s for sports, education, tending to his animals, or doing chores. When he puts his mind to it, he will follow through and accomplish it.

“When he joined cross country as a freshman and competed at State, he told his parents he was going to bring back a medal before he graduated. They told him he could do anything if he put his mind to it. He ran extra miles at nights or weekends throughout the years.

“He kept his mind on his goals even while participating in football and cross country at the same time. He manages to keep up with grades and school is always his first priority. When he’s not in school or sports, Weston is a diligent, wonderful, amazing son, uncle, nephew, and brother.

“Weston plans to continue his education in a field that will help his community. His interest has been engineering but since the pandemic he realized that our Nation needs more Native health care providers. He is a goal-oriented young man.”

Lily Long
1A First Team
Monticello High School senior

Head Coach Jeff Hunt: “Lily has been a staple of Monticello cross country for the past five years. She has consistently been an All-state runner, this being her third time as First Team and she was named to the Second Team once.

“Every year she has been a team leader and the hardest worker on the team. She has been a region champ twice and always gives her best. She is kind of a quiet soul so she leads by example.”

Lilly Burton
1A First Team
Monticello High School freshman

Head Coach Jeff Hunt: “As a freshman, this is Lilly’s first All-state team honor and she was the region runner up.

“Her future looks bright as she was the highest-finishing freshman at the state meet and is a natural runner and an incredibly hard worker.”

Boston Freestone
1A Second Team
Monticello High School senior

Head Coach Jeff Hunt: “This is Boston’s second time at All-state as he came back to cross country since running as a freshman. He finished 11th then. Boston showed loyalty to his brothers on the team time and time again as he consistently put his top effort into leading the team race after race.”

Edward Lyman
2A Second Team
San Juan High School sophomore

Coach Will Walker: “Edward is an extremely talented athlete and a natural-born leader, on the cross country team and in the community.

“His willingness to do whatever is asked makes him one of the most coachable athletes I have ever had the opportunity to work with.

“He has a work ethic that other athletes and students naturally follow, and constantly provides service to others. I believe we are just scratching the surface of what he can do as a runner.”

ALL-STATE SOCCER
Elizabeth Pugh
2A Honorable Mention
Forward | San Juan High School senior
6 Goals

Head Coach Jay Jones: “Elizabeth was one of our captains this year. She played forward and mid-field and was our leading scorer.

“Though she battles asthma, every game she gave her all even when it was hard to breathe. She was very good with her teammates as well and was very good at communicating.

“Elizabeth’s presence on and off the field is fantastic. She works very hard at school and at all she does.

“Her favorite hobbies include playing the piano, playing sports, watching thriller movies, and playing board games. She has plans to attend Snow College after high school, major in music, become a music teacher, get married, and have a family.

“One of her favorite memories this season was when she scored a goal from the middle of the field over the top of the goalie.”

Ryleigh Laws
2A Honorable Mention
Midfielder | San Juan High School junior

Head Coach Jay Jones: “A few years ago Ryleigh and her family decided to move to Blanding, and she decided to join our soccer team. We are very glad she did. 

“She is a very hard worker on and off the field. Before joining our team, she hadn’t played soccer in high school before, but she has been a very fast learner.

“She has been one of our starting midfielders and possesses great endurance and aggressiveness to the ball.

“We have been lucky to have her on our team. She is very deserving of this award. She is a junior this year so we will be able to see her excel on the field for one more year. 

“As far as her hobbies go, she loves running, soccer, dancing, and anything that involves being outside.

San Juan Record

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