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Juan Diego looks to soar in Class 3A

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Two state titles and a loss in a championship game is what Juan Diego accomplished in its past three years in Class 2A. It dominated, it won, and it is now moving on.

"We've been very successful at the 2A level and now it is time for a new challenge for us," said Juan Diego coach John Colosimo. "We think it is an exciting time for our football program, and we look forward to the new opportunities and challenges this gives us."

With the move to 3A for Juan Diego, the upcoming season is a bit of a mystery. How well can the teams compete at the new classification?

"There will be a bit of a learning curve," said Colosimo. "I am sure there is a little concern from some of the players. They are just not exactly sure what it is going to take to win at this level."

One thing that it will take to win at the new level is talent, something that Juan Diego certainly has. With running backs Mookie Murphy, who has verbally committed to join former teammate Marquis Wilson at the University of Utah, and Mychal Robinson, the Soaring Eagle have a pair of playmakers who can score on any given play.

A question that will be answered rather quickly is if quarterback Mason Miller can live up to his potential.

"Miller could be the best quarterback we've ever had here," Colosimo said of his junior. "Mason, Mookie and Mychal make up an explosive backfield. They are as fast and as quick of a backfield as I have ever seen."

Juan Diego can compete talent-wise at the skill positions is evident, but that is not always what makes a team successful. The Soaring Eagle are going to be on the lower scale of the enrollment numbers for Class 3A. That can mean a lack of depth, and trouble should any injuries occur.

"I am sure we can compete in a game against a 3A school," said Colosimo. "Our record against them the past few years is great, but I am just not sure how it will go when we have to go against them week in and week out. We are just a couple of injuries away from being a very mediocre team."

Although some injuries are bound to happen, the players are doing everything they can to prevent them and get ready for the season. That means getting in top physical condition before even the first snap.

"The kids have worked even harder this offseason," Colosimo said. "They have been in the weight room and with our conditioning coaches more than ever. They've taken on the motto, 'We gotta step it up.' "

Only time will tell how big an impact the jump to the bigger classification will be, but the Soaring Eagle and Colosimo have a great attitude going in.

"There are some great teams in 3A," he said. "We go from being the biggest fish in a smaller pond to the smallest fish in a bigger pond, but all I can say is that we are excited. It is time for a new jump in the football program and all our athletics. I think we have the right group of guys to do that."

REGION 8

(Note: order of finish picked by coaches)

1. DELTA: According to first-year coach Russ Henrie, the Rabbits have a chance to be competitive because of a tradition of the team. He says that anytime Delta has been in the running, it has been because of its offensive line, and he thinks this year's edition could be one of the best. Candon Young is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and will anchor both sides in the trenches. Darrin Thompson and McKay Christensen will team up in the backfield as quarterback and running back. 2004 RECORD: 6-4: PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.

2. JUAN DIEGO: The move up in classification will take some time to adjust, but make no mistake about it, the Soaring Eagle have 3A talent. Miller, Murphy and Robinson make up one of the fastest backfields ever for the school. Dallas Davis and Skyler Bond are back at linebacker and are the heart of the defense. 2004 RECORD: 13-0. PLAYOFFS: State champions (2A).

3. NORTH SANPETE: First-year coach Ben Morley takes over a team that did not win the region for the first time in four years, but he also steps into a great situation. The team returns 17 starters, including running back Tyson Church. Last season as a junior, he ran for 1,534 yards. Austen Jorgensen returns after leading the team with 94 tackles as a sophomore, and Kyle Christiansen may be the team's best athlete if he can stay healthy. 2004 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.

4. EMERY: Coach Kevin Reynolds said that his team will need to rely on its defense as David Justice adjusts from the move to quarterback from running back. The entire secondary returns as Josh Eden, Tyler Swenson, Trevor Thompson and Landon Thomas will take their experience and familiarity to try to lock down teams. Kayden Behling will anchor the line on both sides of the ball. 2004 RECORD: 2-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.

5. CARBON: According to coach Lane Herrick, quarterback Brandon Wilson has all the talent in the world. But football games are not won on talent alone. He said the junior-to-be is going to need to develop and mature both as a player and a leader if the Dinos are to be successful. Wilson will have some help in the backfield with running back Colton Howes, and the defense has a rising star at linebacker in Levi Branch. 2004 RECORD: 0-9. PLAYOFFS: Missed.

6. GRANITE: With a changing of the guard, coach Bryan Good expects a new attitude and outcome from his team. With players such as three-year starter Chris Stapley returning as captain, and a burner like Shawn Branch, who runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, the new season has plenty of reasons for those expectations. Tyler Salazar will lead the offense from under the center, and Brandon Larson anchors the defense from his middle linebacker spot. 2004 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Missed.


E-mail: mblack@desnews.com