TOOELE — There's a lot of buzz out in Tooele County these days about the new Stansbury High School, and in particular the Stallions football team.
Stansbury is a mix of kids who previously played at Tooele and Grantsville, and several of them were former starters at their old high school. Coach Clint Christiansen, a graduate of Grantsville, isn't really surprised by the number of kids who took advantage of the open enrollment and transferred to Stansbury.
"The hype of the school that's coming in, the fact the two programs next to us have really struggled, I think kids were looking for something new, and the fact they made this open enrollment I figured we'd draw a lot of kids from those schools," said Christiansen.
Christiansen is feeling very good about his team heading into its inaugural season, perhaps borderline overconfident.
"I don't think this is a typical new school myself. We went down to the camp and really got after some people. We've got a lot of threats. We have some good kids," said Christiansen. "I haven't thought once that we're a new school, we're going to go out and compete just like I've done at every other school I've been to. The challenges are over. I think we're a good football team, cause I've seen them in pads at (SUU's) camp."
Despite the excitement, there's still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the program.
The defense is much further along than the offense with the season just around the corner, and Christiansen is going to wait until after the first game of the season against Maple Mountain to name a full-time starter at quarterback.
Taylor Hunt and Gareth Anderson have been battling all summer for the starting nod, and they'll alternate quarters running the spread-option offense in the season opener against Maple Mountain, another first-year school.
Whoever gets the nod will have a decent offensive line to work with, which includes Austin Butler, formerly of Grantsville. Butler would've been Grantsville's best lineman this year, but his father, Kevin Butler, took an assistant coaching job at Stansbury and his son transferred along with him.
Stansbury has several skill position players who could have big seasons. Wing backs Payeton Reed and Ivan Sanchez are two players Christiansen says have the potential take it to the house whenever they touch the ball.
Amid all the experience and excitement, Stansbury will still count on the contributions of numerous underclassmen which by nature is unpredictable.
Stansbury Stallions at a glance
Coach: Clint Christiansen has nine years of previous head coaching experience at South Sevier and Provo with a 47-48 career record.
Key Players: Ivan Sanchez and Payeton Reed are playmakers at the wing back position, and their coach is excited about their potential. Austin Butler will anchor the offensive and defensive line. Joining him on the defense will be linebackers Colten Anderson and Jazz Knighton.
Strengths: Stansbury has some decent and experience and leadership as several seniors decided to transfer from Tooele and Grantsville. Had should help, particularly early on. Overall, coach Christiansen has been very pleased with how quickly everybody has picked up the offense and defense.
Concerns: Like with any first-year school, underclassmen will have to make major contributions. There's no alternative, but it's not an ideal scenario.
Last year: Stansbury is a first-year school.
Predicted Region 6 finish: Seventh out of seven.
Postseason possibilities: Only four teams from Region 6 make the playoffs, with three almost guaranteed to go to Highland, East and Bountiful. Stansbury would need to edge out Woods Cross, Olympus and Tooele to earn the final playoff berth.
Aug. 21 — MAPLE MOUNTAIN, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — PROVO, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 — at Ogden, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — EAST, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — Bye
Sept. 25 — HIGHLAND, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Olympus, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — BOUNTIFUL, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 — at Tooele, 7 p.m.