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High school football: Grantsville Cowboys 2019 preview

Note: Grantsville finished with an 8-2 overall record in 2018 and was second in 3A North with a 4-1 record. It lost to Juan Diego in the 3A quarterfinals.

Grantsville 2018 offensive and defensive stats

GRANTSVILLE — When Kody Byrd took over as head coach at Grantsville a couple of years ago, he inherited a team with a dynamite sophomore class.

Quite a few of those sophomores played during a 5-5 season in 2017, and as juniors last year they contributed to an 8-2 season and a second-straight quarterfinal appearance.

Now seniors, that group gives Grantsville a huge contingent of returning starters as this team heads into the 2019 season with very high expectations.

“We’ve always had that feeling that this was going to be a special year for us and we knew we were building it up to it, and with that we’ve also put on that there’s higher expectations and they need to back it up and they need to put the work into it,” said Byrd.

Grantsville returns eight starters on offense and seven more on defense, giving it a tremendous foundation to build on as it looks to take the next step as a program.

“They know the offense, they know the defense, so now it’s tweaking it now instead of installing everything,” said Byrd.

There’s plenty of motivation as well. Grantsville was humbled on its home field in the quarterfinals last year as Juan Diego rolled to the 41-14 win.

Those type of competitive games should be the norm in the uber-competitive revamped Region 13 this season that includes defending state 3A champion Summit Academy, defending 2A champion South Summit and strong programs Morgan and Juan Diego.

“I think it’s good that we have to battle week in and week out. I’m excited to see that. These boys know they have a tough battle ahead of them,” said Byrd.

Grantsville Cowboys at a glance

Coach: Kody Byrd is entering his third season as head coach at Grantsville after leading the program to a 13-7 record the past two years. He’s a graduate of Granite High School.

Coach Byrd comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“When my athletic director talked to us, he brought in what would’ve been the rankings from last year and they’re pretty similar. It’s not anything drastic. You have to win and that’s kind of the ultimate thing, but it gives everybody a shot.”

Grantsville offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Craig Harrison

2018 offensive production: 31.8 ppg (3rd in 3A)

— 8 returning starters

— Spread hybrid offense

Key offensive returning starters

— Jackson Sandberg (QB)

Only passed for 555 yards and five TDs in eight games as Grantsville leaned heavily on the run, but this year he’ll need to take on a larger role.

— Bransen Yager (OT)

A returning starting tackle, Yager is one of four returning offensive linemen.

Returning offensive starters

Bransen Yager (OT)

Gauge Pyne (OG)

Chaz Shafer (C)

Austin Grey (OG)

Jackson Sandberg (QB)

Taylor Wood (WR)

Ammon Bartley (WR)

Trent Brown (FB)

Offensive newcomers to watch

James Fuluvaka (RB)

Hunter Johnson (OL)

Daltyn Peasnall (WR)

Chace Gibson (WR)

Garon Mower (WR)

Coach Byrd comments on strong returning offensive line:

“There’s a lot of them coaching themselves and they take ownership in it. The adjustments that they’re making, it’s just nice to see the kids know what they’re doing and taking that ownership. It’s a veteran squad and whenever you have a good offensively line it puts a calming thing over the team. We know we can get those three yards when we need it because of the guys up front.”

Coach Byrd comments on running backs Trent Brown and James Fuluvaka picking up running back slack:

“Between the two of them they’ll pick up the slack and they got some experience last year, they were our backups. Their carry numbers will increase a lot, but we were planning on that anyways.”

Coach Byrd comments on experienced QB Jackson Sandberg:

“We’ll try and balance our offense a little bit more, that will always open up everything. Hopefully we can get him going. He’s a great leader, that’s probably his strength. His intelligence, both football smarts and school smarts, it’s nice because he picks things up so quickly. We have him starting on both sides of the ball this year. We expected big things out of him both ways. We’re going to lean on his arm a little bit more than we did last year, and near the end of the season we tried to lean on it a little bit more to get him used to.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

Parker Thomas rushed for 2,028 yards and 27 TDs last season, but the standout baseball player has elected to focus on playing baseball this fall. It leaves a big production void in the offense, and how this Grantsville team fills that could define the season. A big chunk of that new production might came from the passing game. QB Jackson Sandberg has his top two receivers back from last year, Ammon Bartley and Taylor Wood, and even though the duo only caught 31 combined passes, the potential is there for a much more productive season this year.

Grantsville defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Danny Warren

2018 defensive production: 21.1 ppg (6th in 3A)

— 7 returning starters

— 4-2-5 defense

Key defensive returning starters

— Gauge Pyne (LB)

Recorded 34 tackles and seven sacks last year at outside linebacker, but this year he’ll be moving to middle linebacker.

— Ammon Bartley (LB)

Finished third on the team in tackles last season and big things are expected once again.

Returning defensive starters

Austin Grey (DT)

Gauge Pyne (LB)

Eathan Brinkerhoff (LB)

Ammon Bartley (LB)

Logan White (DB)

Chace Gipson (DB)

Taylor Wood (DB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Branson Yager (DL)

Garrett Behunin (DL)

James Fuluvaka (DL)

Blake Thomas (DB)

Kaden Kelley (DB)

Jackson Sandberg (DB)

Coach Byrd comments on aggressive mentality of his defense:

“They have that defensive mentality, they want to get better. They compete with each other to get to the ball. They’re not waiting around for one guy to do everything. It’s a good collection. We kind of made a little bit of a change and went to a different front to get a little more up front.”

Coach Byrd comments on linebacker Gauge Pyne moving to the middle:

“Growing up he was a lineman, and we had him there his sophomore year and he’s an athletic kid for his size and we tried him at outside linebacker last year and he did OK, it wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t as great in space as he needed to be. Moving him into the middle there, he’s flourished there, that’s his spot. Great against the then run and does enough in the passing game.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

One of the biggest keys to the season, according to coach Byrd, is attitude. He said with seven starters back on defense who have a tremendous understanding of the offense, there’s no worry about them understanding the scheme. Now it’s just about playing with the feisty attitude that doesn’t allow a 41-14 playoff loss to happen.

Bottom line

With a veteran group returning, expectations are rightly very high for Grantsville. Living up to them won’t be easy, though. Grantsville’s been primarily a one-and-done playoff team over the past decade, last reaching the semifinals back in 2005 when Les Hamilton was the head coach. Whether this team has the necessary grit and fight to get over that hump this year remains to be seen.

Coaches preseason Region 13 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 13 prediction: Fourth

Key region game: vs. Juan Diego, Oct. 11 (Week 9)

2019 schedule

  • Aug. 16 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 23 — at Tooele, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 30 — MANTI, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 6 — DELTA, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 13 — at San Juan, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 20 — JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 27 — at South Summit, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 4 — at Summit Academy, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 11 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 16 — MORGAN, 7 p.m.

….

Felts Facts for Grantsville

All-time record: 393-458-21 (102 years)

Region championships: 9 (1960, 1967 co, 1973, 1978, 1984 co, 1985, 1986, 1991 co, 1998)

Playoff appearances: 41

Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2016-2018)

All-time playoff record: 39-38

State championships: 3 (1992, 1996, 1997)

State championship record: 3-5

Most played rivalry: 82 meetings with Morgan dating back to 1945. Morgan leads 52-28-2.

Felt’s Factoids: Grantsville holds the state record (tied with Clearfield) for season interceptions with 33 set in 1997. ... Cowboy Alan Mouritsen holds the season records for all-purpose yardage, 3,287, rushing TDs, 38, and touchdowns-scored, 42, all set in 1997.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 8-2 (4-1 in 3A North — 3A Quarterfinals)
  • 2017 — 5-5 (4-1 in 3A North — 3A Quarterfinals)
  • 2016 — 4-7 (3-2 in 3A North — 3A Quarterfinals)
  • 2015 — 1-9 (1-4 in 3A North — Missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 3-8 (2-3 in 3A North — 3A Quarterfinals)

...

Grantsville coaching history

  • 2017-current — Kody Byrd (13-7)
  • 2016 — interim coach (3-6)
  • 2015-2016 — Curtis Ware (2-10)
  • 2005-2014 — Tony Cloward (46-68)
  • 2003-2004 — Les Hamilton (14-11)
  • 1987-2002 — Kevin Butler (119-67)
  • 1983-1986 — Bill Mikelson (33-10)
  • 1966-1981 — Larry Harrison (65-85)
  • 1964-1965 — Evan Crowther (9-6)
  • 1957-1963 — Glen Rupp (21-30)
  • 1953-1956 — Don Sandburg (4-22)
  • 1951-1952 — unknown (4-5)
  • 1949-1950 — Ken Linsday (7-7)
  • 1934-1948 — unknown (18-90)
  • 1933 — Sterling Anderson (0-6)
  • 1915-1932 — unknown (42-46)

.....

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Parker Thomas, RB
  • 2018 — Gauge Pyne, OG
  • 2018 — Isaac Riding, DE
  • 2018 — Logan White, CB
  • 2017 — Brady Arbon, LB
  • 2017 — Gauge Pyne, OL
  • 2016 — Gavin Eyre, TE
  • 2015 — Colton Adams, DL
  • 2014 — Wyatt Barrus, LB
  • 2014 — Cody Riding, DB
  • 2013 — Jake Riding, DL
  • 2013 — Ky Fisher, LB
  • 2012 — Skyler Cloward, OL
  • 2011 — Skyler Cloward, LB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.