Note: Provo finished with a 5-6 overall record in 2017 and was fourth in Region 8 with a 2-3 record. It lost to Lehi 42-16 in the 5A first round.
PROVO — On Sept. 15, the University of Utah football program will take on Washington at home. It's a game many are excited for here locally, but perhaps none more than Provo coach Tony McGeary.
Former Lone Peak star Chase Hansen will be playing at safety for the Utes while Provo's Ty Jones will be at receiver. Both were coached by McGeary in high school, with the prospect of both moving on to bigger things the hope of any prep coach for his student-athletes.
"I've got that game circled and hopefully I can get down there on the field," McGeary said. "It's a great thing seeing those two succeed and I'm certainly proud of both of them and their accomplishments."
Players moving on to the next level within McGeary's program can be well-noted by players currently at Provo, and certainly those still eligible to transfer to another program or stay at home with the Bulldogs. According to McGeary, a lot of those kids are choosing Provo, which hasn't been the case in recent years.
McGeary took over for the Bulldogs in 2014 with the team making steady progress since that time. They took their lumps that first year, but have grown to make the playoffs every year since.
"We now just need to get there and win one, or even better a few," McGeary said. "But it's been good. Players have really responded well to what we're trying to do here and I think we could have a real good team this year."
Provo features a relatively young team with just 11 seniors, but a junior class with a lot of varsity experience.
"We probably won't be able to field a sophomore team this year, just because of the numbers," McGeary said. "But it's just one of those years and like I said, I really like our junior class and the few seniors we have a real good, too."
As mentioned, Provo has made the playoffs every year since 2015, but have yet to pick up a postseason win during that stretch. The next progression is to get over that hump which begins in earnest with play in what appears to be a stacked Region 8.
"Skyridge is going to be real good, Timpanogos is a lot like us in that they're improving things there, and then you have Springville who is always tough and well-coached," McGeary observed. "So nothing's easy, but we like our chances."
Provo Bulldogs at a glance
- Drason Havea Brandon Gurney
- Sione Fangalei Brandon Gurney
- Sione Tuha Brandon Gurney
- Luke Haslam Brandon Gurney
- Tyler Jakeman Brandon Gurney
- Ryan Harward Brandon Gurney
- Sean May Brandon Gurney
- Siake Lesa Brandon Gurney
- Mason Cobb Brandon Gurney
- James Tomasi Brandon Gurney
- Ben Myles-Mills Brandon Gurney
Coach: Tony McGeary is in his fifth year at Provo and has a 23-21 record for the Bulldogs. He previously coached at Lone Peak.
Provo Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Tony McGeary
2017 offensive production: 19.9 ppg (19th in 5A)
- 4 returning starters
Key offensive returning starters
- Drason Havea (RB): Havea led the Bulldogs last season with 394 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He also caught 16 passes.
- Jimmy Tomasi and Sione Fungalei (OL): Both players proved productive last year and are expected to lead what McGeary believes will be a solid offensive line.
Returning offensive starters:
- Drason Havea (RB)
- Ryan Harward (RB)
- Jimmy Tomasi (OL)
- Sione Fungalei (OL)
McGeary on the quarterback situation:
"Right now it's Luke Haslam. He's looked pretty good for us in (the offseason) and he's gotten a lot bigger and stronger. So we're looking at him. We also have Dallin Havea, who is competing hard and he's probably our number two guy right now."
McGeary on his running backs:
"I like both our guys there. Both were sophomores last year, but they saw some major playing time. Those guys will be guys we depend on a lot and we're expecting big things from both of them."
McGeary on receiver Ben Myles-Mills:
"Ben Myles-Mills is a guy who played a lot for us last year. He's also a great returner, so we're expecting big things from him, not only catching it, but also running the football and playing some defense."
Provo Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Abe Poduska
2016 defensive production: 29.8 ppg (17th in 5A)
- 6 returning starters
Key defensive returning starter
- Mason Cobb (LB): Cobb was second on the team last season in tackles with 69.
Returning starters on defense:
- Ben Myles-Mills (DB)
- Ryan Harward (DB)
- Tanner Sorenson (DB)
- Mason Cobb (LB)
- Jimmy Tomasi (DL)
- Siaki Lesa (DL)
McGeary's comments on the strength of his defense:
"It's definitely our defensive line and linebacking corps. We'll be young in the secondary, so we'll rely a lot on our front seven to get pressure and then take pressure off those young guys."
McGeary's comments on his defensive backfield:
"We have some guys who saw time, like Ryan Harward, but most of the other guys are new. So it's going to be a challenge for those guys, but we're confident in some young guys to step up."
Coaches preseason Region 8 straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News Region 8 prediction: Fifth
Key region game: vs Springville, Oct. 17, (Week 10)
Bottom Line: Provo should have enough to make the playoffs again this season, but advancing beyond the first round could again prove a huge challenge. The lack of depth and senior leadership will be tough to overcome, although the Bulldogs should prove competitive in most games.
- Aug. 17 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — at Westlake, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Orem, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at Skyridge, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — MAPLE MOUNTAIN, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 4 — at Timpanogos, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 11 — at Wasatch, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 17 — SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Provo
All-time record: 440-449-26 (103 years)
Region championships: 23 (1923, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1958, 1965, 1972, 1973 co, 1976 co, 1979, 1981, 1982 co, 1986 co, 1987, 1988 co, 2005 co)
Playoff appearances: 42
Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2015-2017)
All-time playoff record: 30-41
State championships: 1 (1982)
State championship record: 1-5
Most played rivalry: 75 meetings with Springville dating back to 1908. Provo leads 42-29-4.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Provo took part in the longest game in state history, a seven-overtime game in 1982. Provo ended up beating Pleasant Grove 51-44. ... Bulldog Roger Gourley is one of only two players to return a punt for 100 yards (1972). (Since 1974, kick and punt returns from the end zone haven’t been allowed.)
- 2017 — 5-6 (2-3 in Region 8 – 5A First round)
- 2016 — 7-5 (4-3 in Region 7 - 4A First round)
- 2015 — 8-3 (5-1 in Region 7 - 4A First round)
- 2014 — 3-8 (0-6 in Region 8 - Missed playoffs)
- 2013 — 1-9 (0-6 in Region 8 - Missed playoffs)
Provo coaching history
- 2014-current — Tony McGeary (23-21)
- 2012-2013 — Cody Mallory (1-19)
- 2008-2011 — Saia Pope (18-24)
- 2004-2007 — Clint Christiansen (21-22)
- 1999-2003 — Frank Henderson (17-37)
- 1995-1998 — David Mills (9-28)
- 1993-1994 — Ed Larson (6-12)
- 1992 — Jess Christensen (4-5)
- 1991 — Duane Johnson (5-4)
- 1979-1990 — Frank Henderson (88-42)
- 1977-1978 — Gary Roylance (6-12)
- 1976 — Paul Gillespie (10-2)
- 1973-1975 — Jack Branin (12-15)
- 1972 — Bry Lake (10-3)
- 1954-1971 — Dick Hill (81-71-6)
- 1943-1953 — Max Warner (39-51-6)
- 1942 — Glen Simmons (3-2-1)
- 1939-1941 — Griffith Kimball (16-9-2)
- 1936-1938 — Unknown (8-13-3)
- 1923-1935 — Glen Simmons (49-39-7)
- 1908-1922 – Unknown (14-17)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2017 — Kelton Bertagnini, TE
- 2016 — Ty Jones, WR
- 2016 — Tevita Ika, ATH
- 2015 — Ty Jones, WR
- 2009 — Likio Pope, OL
- 2009 — Maka Unufe, Specialist
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.