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High school football: Defending champ Juab the favorite in 3A South, but numerous contenders will challenge the Wasps

Juab coach Mike Bowring accepts his team’s trophy after beating Morgan in the 3A football championship game at Dixie State University in St. George on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.
Juab coach Mike Bowring will try and help his team defend its 3A state title and 3A South region heading into the 2021 season.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

In any high school sport, the defending champion almost always has a figurative target on its back. Teams and players will bring their best every time they have the opportunity to face the team and players that most recently lifted a trophy.

For defending 3A champion Juab, not only will it be faced with the unique challenge of more motivated opponents, but it will also be looking to defend the title with fairly minimal experience after losing 27 seniors from last year’s team that won the first state title in school history.

Juab head coach Mike Bowring said that despite losing all those seasoned players, expectations are still the same for a group of players who have been craving an opportunity of their own for some time now.

“We tell the kids, ‘Look, the standard doesn’t change. We expect the very same thing out of you as we did the other starters,’” Bowring said. “The standard doesn’t change, the kids do. So even though this is a new group, we expect to win, we expect to compete and we expect these kids to be able to perform at that level. That’s part of building the tradition that we’ve built here and that’s part of our program.”

It appears as though the standard for Juab remains the same among its peers, as the Wasps have been picked by the coaches to be the favorites to finish atop the 3A South Region once again this season.

Following closely behind the Wasps in the region projections is a North Sanpete team that brings back one of the better quarterbacks in the state in Landon Bowles, who had his junior season impeded by injury. Now back at full health, expectations are high for the senior signal-caller.

“Landon is definitely not a question mark for us,” North Sanpete head coach Rhett Bird said. “This is the first year that I feel really comfortable with him making checks by himself on the field. Last year I would make a lot of checks on the sideline, so that has kind of given me the sense of comfort that I can just turn the offense over to him.”

Bird said the key for the Hawks this season will be consistency within their scheme, but also added that injuries and the ability to stay healthy will obviously play a significant role in potential success.

Richfield comes in at third after a 10-2 season in 2020 that ended somewhat disappointingly after being bounced by Delta in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats will feature a young but talented squad that hopes to establish themselves as a challenger this season and subsequent seasons.

Manti, Canyon View and Carbon round out the rest of the region projections, respectively.

Despite being projected as fifth in the 3A South, coaches across the region acknowledged that no team is more of a wild card than a Canyon View team that comes down to the 3A classification after years in 4A.

“There’s some excitement in some of those programs where they’ve been toward the bottom of 4A and now, you know, they have just as much of a chance as we do to go and compete at the 3A level,” Bird said of the Falcons.

However, Canyon View head coach Chris Sawyers said that coming into the 3A classification won’t mean that things will suddenly change when it comes to the success of the program.

“(Canyon View has) been a school for 22 years and they have exactly zero winning seasons in football,” Sawyers said. “Ultimately it’s about belief, and once they do believe in themselves they’ll be just fine. Moving to 3A is not a cure-all, there’s a lot of good teams in 3A. We’re excited about it.”

From bottom to top, each team in the 3A South region offers intrigue in some way. From defending champions, to the excitement of programs on the rise, there will undoubtedly be a wide range of potential outcomes within the region this fall.


3A South projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Juab Wasps

  • All-time record: 312-332-3 (65 years)
  • State titles: 1 (2020)

2021 schedule

Coach Bowring general outlook

“We lost 27 seniors so we have a lot of inexperience but we are excited to see who will step in and fill those spots. We have guys that are working hard trying to earn a position.”

Offensive coordinator: Mike Bowring

2020 offense: 33.5 ppg (fourth in 3A)

  • 2 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Alex Jackson, QB
  • Will Harmon, C

Key offensive newcomers

  • Chase Ingram, Slot
  • Wes Nielsen, Slot
  • Carter Lynn, WR
  • Jared Dye, FB
  • Briggs Ludlow, OL
  • Noah Bencomo, OL
  • Taylor Newton, OL
  • Tate Stephensen, OL
  • Syrus Butts, WR
  • Payton Park, WR
  • Justin Stevens, WR

Defensive coordinator: Jake Downard

2020 defense: 13.5 ppg (second in 3A)

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

Returning defensive starters

  • Will Harmon, LB
  • Noah Bencomo, DT
  • Briggs Ludlow, DT

Key defensive newcomers

  • Chase Ingram, CB
  • Wes Nielsen, FS
  • Carter Lynn, DE
  • Jared Dye, SS
  • Briggs Ludlow, DL
  • Noah Bencomo, DL
  • Taylor Newton, DL
  • Will Harmon, LB
  • Syrus Butts, DE
  • Payton pPark, DB
  • Justin Stevens, DB

2. North Sanpete Hawks

  • All-time record: 328-458-19 (105 years)

2021 schedule

Coach Bird general outlook

“We bring back an exceptional QB in Landon Bowles. Before getting injured last season he was in the running with the top QBs in the state with 2,500 yards passing and over 20 TD passes. We don’t return a lot of starters at the skill position but have been really impressed with how our guys are competing. You might see us playing with some younger guys this season that have performed well throughout the summer. Resilient is a great way to label the group of guys we have this year.”

Offensive coordinator: Rhett Bird

2020 offense: 38.2 ppg (second in 3A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Landon Bowles, QB
  • Owen Sunderland, C
  • Brayden Olsen, OL
  • Duncan Hendry, OL
  • Kolby Robinson, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Ty Allan, WR
  • Morgan Bowles, WR
  • Tyler Peckham, RT
  • Kolby Robinson, WR

Defensive coordinator: Cade Beck

2020 defense: 19.5 ppg (third in 3A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • PJ Cook, CB
  • Andy Mower, LB
  • Connor Eliason, LB
  • Duncan Hendry, DL
  • TK Akauola, DL

Key defensive newcomers

  • Beau Jacobson, S
  • Jorge Murillo, LB
  • Carson Cook, S
  • Levi Palmer, DB

3. Richfield Wildcats

  • All-time record: 361-412-12 (91 years)

State titles: 1 (1984)

2021 schedule

Coach Shaddix general outlook

“We are in reloading mode with a lot of multiyear starting seniors graduating. We are committed to becoming the best version of ourselves, “the 2021 RHS Wildcats.” We have a young group, but a lot of talent across the board. We are building for a strong run over the next few years in a much tougher region.”

Offensive coordinator: Mark Rappleye

2020 offense: 31.6 ppg (sixth in 3A)

  • 4 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Ethan Udy, Slot
  • Hunter Algar, TE
  • Kaden Chidester, OT
  • Karston Jensen, FB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Nathan Sorenson, C
  • Reggie Hafen, QB
  • Stockton Pearson, HB
  • Grant Kling, WR
  • Tage Carroll, OG
  • Jaron Ross, TE
  • Austin Nielson

Defensive coordinator: Chet White

2020 defense: 21.7 ppg (fifth in 3A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Multiple-front defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Hunter Algar, LB
  • Ethan Udy, S
  • Dayson Torgerson, S
  • Heston Jensen, LB/S
  • Kaden Chidester, DT
  • Nathan Young, DT
  • Karston Jensen, LB
  • Dalton Boyter, DT

Key defensive newcomers

  • Cameron Hyde, LB
  • Wyatt Harvey, DE
  • Dalton Boyter, NT
  • Grant Kling, CB

4. Manti Templars

  • All-time record: 266-262 (53 years)
  • State titles: 4 (1999, 2003, 2011, 2012)

2021 schedule

Coach Meacham general outlook

“We have several players who didn’t start last year but saw some quality reps last year. These players, in addition to our returning starters will give us a base to work from.”

Offensive coordinator: Fred Taukei’aho

2020 offense: 25.3 ppg (10th in 3A)

  • 2 returning starters.
  • Pro-style offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Isaac Schoppe, G
  • Jace Wilson, C

Defensive coordinator: Cole Meacham

2020 defense: 26.7 ppg (10th in 3A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • 4-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • David Taulapapa, LB
  • Alex Cox, DE
  • Larson Pogroszewski, C
  • Keegan Strickland, DE
  • Troy Madsen, DT

5. Canyon View Falcons

  • All-time record: 51-180 (24 years)

2021 schedule

Coach Sawyers general outlook

“I think that we’re finally going to be playing in a league that we should’ve been in the whole time, so that’s exciting. I’m excited about our team because we have a very large senior class and they’re a group of kids that have won a lot of games. And the junior class behind them is pretty talented as well so I’m pretty excited about it as well. Ultimately it’s about belief, and once they do believe in themselves they’ll be just fine. Moving to 3A is not a cure-all, there’s a lot of good teams in 3A. We’re excited about it.”

Offensive coordinator: Chris Sawyers

2020 offense: 24.0 ppg (12th in 4A)

  • 7 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Adrian Ward, RB
  • Jake Garrett, QB
  • Cooper McMullin, OL
  • Dayne Hudson, OL
  • Wyatt Stevens, OL
  • Gavin Foster, OL
  • Tyler Barton, WR
  • Asher Croft, RB
  • Scott Irons, RB
  • Gavin Barlow, RB
  • Taylor Barney, WR
  • Dawson Wood, WR
  • Trey Buhler, WR
  • Daniel Serna, OL

Defensive coordinator: Dave McMullin

2020 defense: 39.5 ppg (22nd in 4A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Dayne Hudson, DL
  • Gavin Foster, DL
  • Cooper McMullin, LB
  • BoDee Burrows, LB
  • Mason Berg, LB
  • Tyler Barton, DB
  • Quinn Johnson, DB
  • Kade Short, DB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Marc Richardson, DL
  • Gavin Cardenas, DL
  • Kye Dutton, DL
  • Karver Mock, LB
  • Jake Hunter, LB
  • Trey Buhler, DB
  • Lincoln Rushton, DB
  • Adrian Ward, DB
  • Nick Macias, DB

6. Carbon Dinos

  • All-time record: 322-541-22 (102 years)
  • State titles: 3 (1924, 1938, 1951)

2021 schedule

Coach Howa general outlook

“We are very excited to return a very large and experienced group of kids. They have taken their lumps and are eager to prove themselves in the new region and conference. The offseason has been productive in the weight room.”

Offensive coordinator: Nick Milovich

2020 offense: 11.4 ppg (16th in 3A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Keaton Rich, QB
  • Davin Moss, RB
  • Hayden Moon, OL
  • Carson Shepherd, OL
  • Ajay Thayn, OL
  • Hyrum Nelson, OL
  • Derick Ehler, OL
  • Will Carmichael, TE

Key offensive newcomers

  • Bradley Wood, OL
  • Hyrum Nelson, OL
  • Jexton Woodhouse, OL
  • Trever Worley, RB

Defensive coordinator: Jimmy Parker

2020 defense: 41.1 ppg (16th in 3A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Multiple-front defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Alexis Manzo, DB
  • Blade Butler, DB
  • Davin Moss, DB
  • Daniel Vigil, DB
  • Gabe Bloomer, DL
  • Jonathan Lenzi, DL
  • Hayden Tallerico, LB
  • Will Carmichael, LB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Bradley Wood, DL
  • Hyrum Nelson, DL
  • Jexton Woodhouse, DL
  • Adrian Medina, DL