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High school football: 1A South should feature plenty of parity with Beaver finally out of the mix

SHARE High school football: 1A South should feature plenty of parity with Beaver finally out of the mix

There’s been no 1A classification in football the past two seasons as the UHSAA consolidated teams into 2A, but with the return of 1A this year Milford is the defending state champ as it won the last 2A state championship in 2018.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

For the teams in the 1A South region, the departure from the 2A classification and return to 1A can mean different things for each team, but there is one implication that is shared by all teams — the relief of not having to play Beaver High School anymore.

“It would be a lie if anybody said they weren’t relieved that Beaver is out of here,” Enterprise head coach Andy Messersmith said.

In the two football seasons without the 1A classification, the Beavers went a combined 26-0, outscoring their opponents by an average of 41 points per game en route to two dominant 2A state championship game wins.

“When the change happened two seasons ago, at first I think all of us 1A coaches thought we could compete with Beaver and we found out we were wrong,” Milford head coach Thane Marshall said. “The teams that are 1A now basically competed with everyone except Beaver.”

But as the sun rises on the upcoming football season, rather than starting down the gauntlet of Beaver football, the teams in the 1A South region find themselves in a playing field that is now stuffed full of parity — something that has been craved by each program in the region. 

“I feel like there’s no clear favorite. Beaver, the last couple years has been that clear, unanimous favorite,” Messersmith said of the 1A classification. “These next few years I think there’s four, five, maybe even six teams that whoever shows up that given year has a good chance of winning it all.”

One of the teams that has a good chance of winning it all this season is the Milford Tigers, who won two consecutive 1A state championships before the change to 2A was made. The Tigers also made an appearance in the 2A title game in 2019, but were beaten soundly by the Beavers.

In the context of the program’s recent success, Milford’s 2020 season could be considered a down year for the team as it aimed to fill the shoes of record-setting quarterback Bryson Barnes, who had started for the Tigers during the four previous seasons.

Filling those shoes last season was sophomore Bo Hardy who finished the year with 2,568 passing yards, 432 rushing yards, 27 total touchdowns and 18 interceptions, while also leading the Tigers to the third best scoring offense in 2A. Hardy and the rest of the young squad finished the season with a 6-7 record, but was able to make an appearance in one of the 2A semifinal games.

“We had a tough season last year, we were rebuilding and we started five sophomores,” Marshall said. “When you only have one quarterback take every snap for four years and you have to replace that quarterback, that’s pretty tough to do. But Bo did an awesome job coming in and I look forward to having an even better version of him this year.”

With a year of experience in Hardy and the rest of the young squad’s belt, the Tigers have been anointed by the coaches as the preseason favorites to finish on top of the 1A South region.

Marshall said he felt his team probably deserved the preseason ranking due to the experience his program is returning coupled with the fact that many other teams in the region will be aiming to replace their own lost production, much like his team was in 2020.

Although selected as the favorites, Marshall said he doesn’t expect his team to have it easy, but rather anticipates that the parity he and his coaching peers had longed for over the past two seasons will be showcased throughout the season in both the region and the classification.

“This year the regions are going to be very even and I don’t think there’s a “gimme game” on the schedule, especially in the South,” Marshall said.

1A South projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)


1. Milford Tigers

  • All-time record: 263-402-11 (79 years).
  • State titles: 3 (1993, 2017, 2018).

2021 schedule


Head coach: Thane Marshall

Entering his eighth season as head coach at Milford, recording a 56-25 record over that stretch, including back-to-back 1A titles in 2017 and 2018. He’s a graduate of Beaver High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Marshall general outlook

“We will be an experienced team but still young. Most of my kids had to play lots of minutes last year as sophomores. That being said, this may be the deepest team I have ever had here at Milford. We have great leadership coming back and we didn’t like how last season was. We are excited to get back out there and get to work.”

Offensive coordinator: Wes Marshall

2020 offense: 23.3 ppg (third in 2A)

  • 6 returning starters.
  • Spread/air raid offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Bo Hardy, QB
  • Blake Barnes, Slot
  • Ryder Ambrose, C
  • Spencer Slade, T
  • Trey Rose, WR
  • Elias Romero, G

Defensive coordinator: Isaako Aaitui

2020 defense: 20.2 ppg (seventh in 2A)

  • 7 returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Blake Barnes, S/S
  • Trey Rose, DB
  • Corbyn Dalton, DB
  • Quaid Thompson, ILB
  • Spencer Slade, DE
  • Rudy Campeau, NG
  • Elias Romero, DL


2. Enterprise Wolves

  • All-time record: 141-117 (24 years)
  • State titles: 1 (2003)

2021 schedule


Head coach: Andy Messersmith

Entering his sixth season as head coach for the Wolves, he’s guided the program to a 29-26 record in his first fives seasons. He’s a graduate of Juab High School and Adams State in Colorado.

Coach Messersmith general outlook

“Losing a lot of seniors we are young this year but I feel we have the pieces to be really good. I was very pleased with how fast our team came together at camp. These players are very anxious to get onto the field and prove themselves.”

Offensive coordinator: Andy Messersmith

2020 offense: 16.3 ppg (10th in 2A)

  • 4 returning starters.
  • Multi-formation offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Matthew Ramos, WR moving to QB
  • Davis Bracken, C
  • Sam Johnson, OT
  • Jeddy Crittenden, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Gage Schoeffler, OT
  • Kyron Bracken, Slot
  • Jaden Drake, Slot
  • Cale Day, OT
  • Brayden Gardner, WR

Defensive coordinator: Phil Mcleod

2020 defense: 15.8 ppg (fifth in 2A)

  • 4 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Matthew Ramos, CB
  • Davis Bracken, DT
  • Rusty Oaks, NG
  • Jeddy Crittenden, S

Key defensive newcomers

  • Aiden Dougherty, MLB
  • Austin Humphries, MLB
  • Parker Holt, DE
  • Clayton Anzalone, CB


3. Kanab Cowboys

  • All-time record: 436-261-7 (71 years)
  • State titles: 9 (1974, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2005, 2007)

2021 schedule


Head coach: J.R. Quarnberg

Is entering his second season as head coach at his high school alma mater after leading the team to a 8-3 record in 2020. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah University.

Coach Quarnberg general outlook

“Our coaching staff is excited for Year 2. We return a good amount of guys that started one or two ways for us, which is exciting. We expect to have a senior class that will lead and play hard. We will certainly be searching for some players to step up and fill some big shoes left in several key positions. One of those key vacancies being at quarterback. We lacked depth a season ago and we would like to bring some younger players along to strengthen our team and help us be in a position to compete at the end of the season. We feel like we have a tough preseason schedule as well as a very competitive region schedule that will follow. We are very excited to see how our team will be able to respond to the ups and downs that will come with that.”

Offensive coordinator: J.R. Quarnberg

2020 offense: 23.2 ppg (fourth in 2A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Wing-T offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Noah McCorvey, WR
  • Kason Janes, TE
  • Josh Church, T
  • Collin Szymanksi, G
  • Wyatt Kennedy , G
  • Preston Houston, T
  • Bracken McQuivey, RB
  • Carson Blomquist, RB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Travis Stewart, RB
  • Preston Houston, RB

Defensive coordinator: Brandon Brown

2020 defense: 14.6 ppg (fourth in 2A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Noah McCorvey, DB
  • Saxton Unsworth, DB
  • Bracken McQuivey, DB
  • Wyatt Kennedy, LB
  • Parker Franklin, LB
  • Kason Janes, DL
  • Josh Church , DL
  • Collin Szymanksi, DL

Key defensive newcomers

  • Saxton Unsworth, LB
  • Griffen Bone, DB
  • RJ Mognett, S


4. Parowan Rams

  • All-time record: 182-444-7 (72 years)

2021 schedule


Head coach: Ryan Heath

Ryan Heath is entering his second year as head coach at Parowan after leading the program to a 5-7 record last year. He’s a graduate of North Sevier High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Heath general outlook

“We lost a huge part of our offense to graduation, so we will have to have guys step up to fill those spots. We have kids ready to compete for those jobs. We are looking forward to seeing what these kids can do. We have a lot of returners on both sides of the ball, and they are excited to get the season started. Our region is very competitive and we will have to play our best ball every week, and we are preparing for those weekly challenges.”

Offensive coordinator: Ryan Heath

2020 offense: 16.9 ppg (ninth in 2A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Pistol power offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Treven Yardley, WR/QB
  • Easton Jense, RB
  • Braden Bettridge, RB
  • Shaydon Benson, WR
  • Cooper Miller, OT
  • Jace Little, OG
  • Preston Eisenach, C
  • Michael Horton, OG

Defensive coordinator: Dave Bettridge

2020 defense: 18.9 ppg (sixth in 2A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Treven Yardley, C
  • Easton Jense, LB
  • Braden Bettridge, SS
  • Connor Robison, LB
  • Cooper Miller, DE
  • Jace Little, T
  • Christian Bost, LB
  • Michael Horton, DT
  • Tysen Gale, C


5. Gunnison Valley Bulldogs

  • All-time record: 81-217 (31 years)

2021 schedule


Head coach: Patrick King

The Florida native his heading into his third season as head coach at Gunnison Valley, where he’s 6-13 in his first two seasons. Prior to moving to Utah, he was an assistant coach at three different high schools in Florida. He’s a graduate of Middleburg High School in Florida and the University of North Florida.

Coach King general outlook

“We expect to be competitive after two years at three wins and returning a lot of starting experience including backups that have played a ton the last two years. We improved on both offense and defense and closed the gap with most teams that we play. Core challenges are replacing all-region players and moving into the 1A South. We will feature a very dangerous backfield and a senior QB, Jack Hansen, who will continue to be a leader for us. Dylan Anderson would be a three-year starter at running back if it was not for some great backs ahead of him the last two years. He is poised for a huge senior campaign. Bryson Sorensen at wide receiver emerged as a deep threat last season and will lead a group of receivers and tight ends that have become reliable. Main strength will be front seven experience on both sides of the ball.”

Offensive coordinator: Tyson Moosman

2020 offense: 18.7 ppg (seventh in 2A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • Hybrid pro offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Jack Hansen, QB
  • Will Wescott, OT
  • Koler Ludvigson, OG
  • Bridger Stevens, C
  • Tate Dunne, OT
  • Tyrek Hopkins, TE
  • Bryson Sorensen, WR
  • Brogan Christensen, WR
  • Pearson Judy, FB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Dylan Anderson, RB
  • Pearson Judy, FB
  • Jared McArthur, OT
  • Max Draper, OG

Defensive coordinator: Bradee Sunderland

2020 defense: 23.6 ppg (ninth in 2A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Jack Hansen, FS
  • Will Wescott, NG
  • Dylan Anderson, MLB
  • Koler Ludvigson, MLB
  • Carson Tucker, OLB
  • Bryson Sorensen, CB
  • Carson Yardley, CB
  • Tate Dunne, DE

Key defensive newcomers

  • Kaleb Belnap, DE
  • Tonio Jamie, OLB
  • Pearson Judy, OLB
  • Vlad Cruz, DT


6. North Sevier Wolves

  • All-time record: 163-360-2 (62 years)
  • State titles: 1 (2008)

2021 schedule


Head coach: Wyatt Mason

Entering his second season as head coach at his alma mater, which he led to a 1A state title as a player in 2008. North Sevier posted a 3-8 record in his first season as coach in 2020. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah University.

Coach Mason general outlook

“We have a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball. Participation in our program has gone up. Players that didn’t come out in previous years are coming out. The increased numbers will help us tremendously with depth and competition for starting spots. We believe we will be in a position this year to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. Our players are very motivated and hungry for success.”

Offensive coordinator: Wyatt Mason

2020 offense: 17.6 ppg (eighth in 2A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • Pro style offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Kannin Boswell, QB
  • Ryker Frischknecht, QB
  • Nathan Snyder, FB
  • Cauy Williams, WR
  • Deagan Brazell, TE
  • Drexton Olsen, OL
  • Blaine Anderson, OL
  • Brogan Malmgren, OL
  • Breken Mason, RB
  • Key offensive newcomers
  • Tyler Foote, WR
  • Keaton Peterson, WR
  • Clayton Duckworth, OL

Defensive coordinator: Riley Tidlund

2020 defense: 27.7 ppg (11th in 2A)

  • 7 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Nathan Snyder, LB
  • Cauy Williams, LB
  • Blaine Anderson, LB
  • Deagan Brazell, DL
  • Drexton Olsen, DL
  • Breken Mason, DL
  • Kannin Boswell, FS

Key defensive newcomers

  • Hunter Hansen, DB
  • Kyson Bosshardt, DB
  • Aaron Gale, LB
  • Clayton Duckworth, DL