Note: South Sevier finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2017 and was tied for fifth in 2A South with a 1-4 record. It lost to Millard 24-7 in the 2A first round.
MONROE — Changing South Sevier’s football culture into a winning culture continues to be an uphill battle for coach Weston Zabriskie.
After three straight losing seasons, including just three wins a year ago, there’s ample reason to believe a breakthrough season could be in the cards in 2018.
South Sevier only had four seniors on last year’s squad, and as a result, it's loaded with returning starters this season. Among them is running back/linebacker Tyson Chisholm, who has a scholarship offer from the Air Force Academy.
He’s a cornerstone player that any coach would be thrilled to build a team around. He led the team in rushing last season with 1,292 yards and 11 touchdowns in addition to racking up 138 total tackles.
The complementary pieces are there surrounding him as well, and the next step for this team and this program is to discover the confidence that consistently produces results.
“There’s the South Summits, the Beavers, the San Juans, who it’s just built into the community, built into the program’s culture, (like, 'When we walk out on the field we’re going to win and we play that way.’ With this team if we can get a few wins early and we can play really well early it will be interesting to see what that confidence could do to the team,” said Zabriskie.
To get to that point, South Sevier’s offense must get better. It only averaged 15.0 ppg last season and scored in single digits in five of 10 games.
Those offensively struggles gradually took their toll on the defense, which wore down as games went on.
“The key that we focus on this season is being more consistent in execution,” said Zabriskie. “There shouldn’t be anything that would surprise them anymore. They’ve been through the battle. Every kid out there has been through a varsity game.”
South Sevier opened last season with losses to Kanab and Richfield, the same team it begins this season. Time will tell if all that returning experiences translate into better success in those openers, or if it will be the start of history repeating itself.
- Tyson Chisholm, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Tucker Gayler, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Wyatt Morrison, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Branson Palmer, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Zachary Roberts, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Yates Taylor, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
- Peydon Wood, South Sevier Photo courtesy South Sevier
South Sevier Rams at a glance
Coach: Weston Zabriskie is entering his ninth year as head coach at South Sevier having recorded a 26-58 record in his previous eight years. He’s a graduate of North Sanpete High School.
South Sevier Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Weston Zabriskie
2017 offensive production: 15.0 ppg (9th in 2A)
- 8 returning starters
- Wing-T variation offense
Key offensive returning starters
- Tyson Chisholm (RB)
Carried the ball 200 times last season for a team-high 1,292 yards 11 TDs.
- Tracen Winkel (QB)
Started at quarterback last season and completed 48 of 108 passes for 648 yards and three TDs.
Returning offensive starters
- Tracen Winkel (QB)
- Tyson Chisholm (RB)
- Tucker Gayler (RB)
- Branson Palmer (RB)
- Peydon Wood (WR)
- Taylor Yates (WR)
- Wyatt Morrison (TE)
- Zach Roberts (OL)
- Bo Louder (OL)
- Brad Taylor (K)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Coach Zabriskie comments on his offensive line:
“We lost three seniors off the line. Line is a place we’re going to have to figure things out. We have Zach Roberts back who’s a lot bigger, a lot stronger this year. He had to start as a sophomore as kind of an emergency starter, but now is coming in as a three-year starter, is really physical, can lead on the line. We’ve got a lot of kids, but it comes back to consistency and confidence. The kids have the ability but do they believe they should be playing at this level.”
Coach Zabriskie comments on RB Tyson Chisholm:
“We’ve leaned on him for two years. Had over 1,000 yards (the last two years). The idea is to mix it up more, not be as Tyson-heavy. But at the same time when you have a player like him fall into your lap it’s not very smart to say he’s going to be a decoy all the time. The kid is a workhorse, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast.”
Coach Zabriskie comments on QB Tracen Winkel:
“He was put in a tough situation last year. He isn’t really big and could’ve really benefitted from another year of playing JV with kids his age, confidence would’ve been a huge factor. Last year when our quarterback decided not to come back and play his senior year Tracen was kind of thrown into a really hard situation. He got hurt early and played most of the year on a bum ankle but this year he’ll be a lot better. The game will slow down for him and he’ll be able to make his reads.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:
South Sevier’s offense simply can’t afford to have as many three-and-outs as it did a year ago. That lack of consistently moving the ball was the biggest culprit in South Sevier’s lack of success. South Sevier is first and foremost a running team, but the coaching staff is optimistic about trying to throw the ball a bit more this season. A bit more success in the play-action game could help move the chains with a bit more regularity.
South Sevier Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: John Ramage
2017 defensive production: 24.4 ppg (6th in 2A)
- 8 returning starters
- 3-5 defense
Key defensive returning starter
- Zach Roberts (DE)
One of two sentences on their stats from last year
Returning defensive starters
- Tyson Chisholm (LB)
- Zach Roberts (DE)
- Tucker Gayler (LB)
- Branson Palmer (LB)
- Peydon Wood (DB)
- Yates Taylor (DB)
- Cooper Hessey (DB)
- Carson Moore (DB)
Coach Zabriskie comments on ways to improve defensively:
“Confidence in what we’re going. We have a new defensive coordinator (John Ramage) this year. A lot of experience. Dad was coach at BYU for 30-something years. The idea is to play fast, get the kids to come out and make tackles. Some of that is being more consistent offensively. There were times defensively we looked pretty good last year, but after a few three and outs and the defense is on the field so much that plays a factor.”
Coach Zabriskie comments on LB Tyson Chisholm:
“Physically he’s extremely strong. The thing that sets him apart is he’s a student of the game. Since he was very little he’s loved football, loves the dynamics of it. In elementary school, he’d be drawing up plays so the kids could play real games. But we have to have other kids step up to take pressure off of him. He’s a special kid, there’s a reason he has college offers. It’s really nice to have a kid like that to where everybody else gravitates and follows his example.”
Coach Zabriskie comments on strong experience in secondary:
“It’s nice to have that in the backside. For a lot of the games, we feel like we can trust them to defend man to man or something like that, that we can bring a little more pressure. A lot of teams don’t throw the ball a lot in 2A, so to have people who can come up and support the run is huge, that’s a big thing with Peydon Wood and Cooper Hessey, both of them are taller, longer kids.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:
The Beaver game was the only game last season when things really got away from South Sevier defensively. With most of those starters returning, it figures to field another strong defensive team this season. The key will simply be to keep grinding away and with improved play on the defensive line, the Rams should find themselves in more games in the fourth quarter.
Coaches preseason 2A South straw poll: Third
Deseret News 2A South prediction: Third
Key Region Game: vs. San Juan, Sept. 28 (Week 7)
Bottom line: With eight starters back on both sides of the ball, there’s no reason South Sevier won’t be better in 2018 than it was in 2017. But in saying that, it only won three games last season. Will those gains this year be modest gains of a couple wins, or will this experienced squad put it together and compete near the top of its region?
- Aug. 17 — KANAB, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — RICHFIELD, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — NORTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Grand, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — SAN JUAN, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for South Sevier
All-time record: 207-326-1 (63 years)
Region championships: 7 (1925, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 2000, 2009 co)
Playoff appearances: 32
Current playoff appearance streak: 5 (2013-2017)
All-time playoff record: 12-31-1
State championships: 1 (1925)* Payson and South Sevier tied in the semifinals in 1925, but no state championship was held. Both were awarded state titles.
State championship record: 0-0
Most played rivalry: 58 meetings with Richfield dating back to 1920. Richfield leads 40-18.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Jared Petersen threw a 99-yard pass to Brett Wallace in 1997 to become one of just 13 pairs of players to complete a 99-yard pass. … South Sevier took home its only state-championship football trophy without playing in a championship game, in 1925. In the semifinals that year, East and West tied, as did Payson and South Sevier. Rather than hold additional games to break the ties, all four were awarded state crowns.
- 2017 — 3-7 (1-4 in 2A South - 2A First round)
- 2016 — 4-7 (2-3 in 2A South - 2A Quarterfinals)
- 2015 — 1-9 (1-4 in 2A South - 2A First round)
- 2014 — 6-5 (4-2 in 2A South - 2A Semifinals)
- 2013 — 4-7 (2-4 in 2A South - 2A Quarterfinals)
South Sevier coaching history
- 2010-current — Weston Zabriskie (26-58)
- 2003-2009 — Travis McAllister (34-35)
- 1998-2002 — Clint Christiansen (26-26)
- 1993-1997 — Brent Hafen (7-38)
- 1992 — Ron Winegar (1-8)
- 1991 — Rick Orr (1-7)
- 1984-1990 — Alfred Frehner (13-48)
- 1981-1983 — Garry Walker (6-20)
- 1980 — David Hare (6-5)
- 1971-1979 — Richard Orr (55-39)
- 1970 — Mike Jones (2-9)
Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years
- 2017 — Tyson Chisholm, LB
- 2016 — Tyson Chisholm, RB/LB
- 2016 — Braxton Vakautakakala, OL/DL
- 2014 — Trevor Jones, QB/DB
- 2014 — Avery Healey, RB/LB
- 2014 — Brock Bastian, TE/LB
- 2013 — Wyatt Anderson, OL/DL
- 2012 — Wyatt Anderson, OL/DL
- 2011 — Patrick Baker, RB/DB
- 2010 — Logan Baker, TE/LB
- 2010 — Clayton Higginson, OL/LB
- 2009 — Ryan Anderson, OL/DL
- 2009 — Dillon Bishoff, WR/LB
- 2009 — Jace Mecham, OL/LB
- 2008 — Landon Leavitt, RB/LB
- 2008 — Scott Mathie, OL/LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.