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High school football: Wasatch Wasps 2019 preview

Note: Wasatch finished with a 6-5 overall record in 2018 and was tied for third in Region 8 with a 2-3 record. It lost to Maple Mountain 34-31 in the Region 8 play-in game.

Wasatch 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

HEBER CITY — Wasatch’s streak of three straight playoff appearances came to a surprising end last season, especially considering the way the first eight weeks of the season played out.

That’s what a key injury will do to a football team.

When starting quarterback Brock Cloward went down with an injury late in the season, Wasatch lost its final two region games against the top two teams in Region 8 — neither game was close — and then lost a play-in game to Maple Mountain.

It was a tough pill to swallow at the time following a 6-2 start to the season, but the silver lining is the experience gained by new quarterback Parker Quinton in that game.

Quinton threw for 556 yards and five TDs, and those three starts have been a springboard to what has been a very productive offseason and summer.

“Obviously we would’ve preferred to have Brock (Cloward) those last three games going into the playoffs, but with that injury at least it gave a chance to see some varsity experience which is going to carry into this year. And he’s been our guy this summer as well, and he’s a varsity baseball player so that helps with leadership and experience as well,” said Wasatch coach Steve Coburn.

Quinton should benefit from a strong offensive line that includes four starters and the return of leading rusher Zak Thacker.

The question mark offensively is at receiver with zero returning starters, but Coburn said anywhere from six to eight players could make meaningful contributions at that position.

Wasatch has a new offensive coordinator (Mike Sanford) and defensive coordinator (Stanton Akana) and Coburn hopes the shake-up on both sides of the ball helps get Wasatch back into the playoffs and perhaps win a playoff game for the first time since 2010.

The defense will benefit from six returning starters, but with little experience on the defensive line there are obvious question marks.

Wasatch Wasps at a glance

Coach: Steve Coburn is entering his eighth season as Wasatch’s head coach and has a 41-34 record. Coburn has five years of head coaching experience at Snow College (2006-2010) and 17 years head coaching experience at the high school level. He was 13-6 at Morgan (1988-89), 11-29 at Ogden (1994-1997), 2-17 at Cottonwood (1998-99) and 4-7 at North Sanpete (2011). He’s a graduate of Bonneville High School.

Coburn comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“I haven’t looked at it much. It’s a new concept that will be interesting. As we talked about it at our region meetings, we could be region champions and be a fifth seed team because of somebody else’s RPI. I think it’s going to take time for us to get used to and understand the whole concept of it. It gives everyone a fighting chance in the playoffs and once you get in the playoffs anything can happen.”

Wasatch Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Mike Sanford

2018 offensive production: 27.6 ppg (12th in 4A)

-- Six returning starters

-- Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

-- Jay Nelson (C)

One of four returning starters on the offensive line will anchor the center position.

-- Zak Thacker (RB)

Despite missing three games, he led Wasatch in rushing last year with 474 yards.

Returning offensive starters

Jay Nelson (C)

Haygen Brisk (OG)

Braxton Turner (OT)

Seth Heaton (OT)

Zak Thacker (RB)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Parker Quinton (QB)

Zac Webster (WR)

Ezekiel Anderson (WR)

Damien Skiby (WR)

McGuire Law (WR)

Sam Lemon (WR)

Robbie Shallenberger (CB)

Vic Ostergaard (TE)

Hayden Stocking (Slot)

Coburn comments on four returning starters on O-line:

“We expect those guys to carry the load for our team offensively this year with four returning starters. We’re very experienced there. It was interesting to listen to them through the winter training, ‘This is what I need to do to get better for next year because I know what my weaknesses were last year.’ They really focused on those and all four of them have gotten much better this winter and training this summer. They’re going to be the ones that carry the load for us on offense.”

Coburn comments on leading rusher Zak Thacker returning:

“He’s made big steps in the weight room and his understanding of our offense and how to play at that level. Going into it last year as a junior was the first time being a varsity player so now he has that experience coming back this year so we’re real excited about Zak."

Coburn comments on brand new wide receivers:

“It’s a whole new group for us. Having to replace Bridger Purdy and Kaden Smith and those guys from last year is a big challenge for us 'cause those guys also played defense. That’s the area that needs to make the biggest growth the fastest during the fall camp so we can have solid players coming out of that.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

With four offensive linemen back, Coburn side that group needs to dominate this season. It will help a relatively inexperienced quarterback settle into a new offense, especially with a brand-new crop of receivers. That strong offensive line should also help Wasatch improve upon its modest production in the running game last year.

Wasatch Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Stanton Akana

2018 defensive production: 22.4 ppg (11th in 4A)

-- Six returning starters

-- 4-2-5 defense

Key defensive returning starters

-- Ammon Tuttle (S)

Led Wasatch in tackles last year with 86 and should have a fantastic season.

-- Parker Quinton (LB)

Ranked fourth on the team in tackles last season with 63 and he’s one of three returning starters at linebacker.

Returning defensive starters

Parker Quinton (LB)

Hayden Stocking (LB)

Tyler Karl (LB)

Ammon Tuttle (S)

Damien Skiby (S)

Dylan Lovell (DE)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Braxton Turner (DT)

Seth Heaton (DT)

Cole Magnusson (DE)

Jay Nelson (DE)

Ezekial Anderson (CB)

Sam Lemon (CB)

McGuire Law (CB)

Zac Webster (CB)

Robbie Shallenberger (CB)

Coburn comments on strong linebacker corps:

“Best group that we have as far as solid playing time experience is our linebacker corps. They have to be solid for us again. Parker Quinton, Hayden Stocking and Tyler Karl are our linebacker crew that needs to really step up and take over the team and be the leadership for us.”

Coburn comments on uncertainty with one starter back on D-line:

“I have some guys that I think can do it, they’re just unproven yet, if those guys can step up and take charge then we can platoon on the line.”

Coburn comments on returning safeties Ammon Tuttle and Damien Skiby:

“Both of those guys need to be leaders, they’ll be two-year starters for us. Ammon was selected as one of our leaders in the offseason. He’s done a great job and is also a soccer player on our soccer team that made it deep in the playoffs as well so he has that experience as well. Damien was a starter for us last year as well and those two guys need to have that leadership and shore up the secondary for us."

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

Wasatch ranked 11th in 4A scoring defense last year allowing 22.4 ppg, and improving in that area will require a young defensive line to grow up fast. Only Dylan Lovell returns with experience in the trenches, and Coburn said those newcomers need to pick up new defensive coordinator Stanton Akana’s schemes quickly to emerge as a strong front that can stop the run.

Bottom line

Coburn said the year-to-year transition in high school football always presents challenges. He said last year the Wasps went into the season strong at QB and with question marks on the line. This year those scenarios have flipped. And defensively, his team is strong at linebacker with question marks in the trenches. With the way last season ended this group is hungry and motivated, and while winning the Region 8 title will be tough with a loaded Provo team the Wasps should be able to compete near the top of the region.

Coaches preseason Region 8 straw poll: Fifth

Deseret News Region 8 prediction: Fourth

Key Region Game: vs. Salem Hills, Oct. 10 (Week 9)

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — at Park City, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — at Mountain Crest, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — VIEWMONT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — CENTENNIAL, NEV., 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — at Maple Mountain, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — PROVO, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — at Payson, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — SALEM HILLS, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.

….

Felts Facts for Wasatch High

All-time record: 459-384-18 (95 years)

Region championships: 20 (1931, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1964, 1966, 1967 co, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975 co, 1977 co, 1981, 1982, 1984 co, 1993, 1999 co, 2002, 2007 co)

Playoff appearances: 48

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 29-48

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-5

Most played rivalry: 84 meetings with Morgan dating back to 1928. Wasatch leads 50-31-2.

Felt’s Factoids: Wasp Keefer Babbitt set the single-game reception yard record of 314 in 2010. Skyler Southam averaged a state-record 48.4 yards punting over the 2014 season.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 6-5 (2-3 in Region 8 – Missed playoffs)
  • 2018 — 5-5 (3-2 in Region 8 – 5A First round)
  • 2016 — 6-5 (3-3 in Region 8 – 4A First round)
  • 2015 — 8-3 (5-1 in Region 8 – 4A First round)
  • 2014 — 4-7 (2-4 in Region 8 – Missed playoffs)

...

Wasatch coaching history

  • 2012-current — Steve Coburn (41-34)
  • 2011 — Craig Davis (5-6)
  • 2005-2010 — Steve North (43-28)
  • 1999-2004 — Ron Tree (38-31)
  • 1997-1998 — Tim Stanley (3-15)
  • 1992-1996 — Monte Morgan (28-25)
  • 1987-1991 — Ron Tree (21-28)
  • 1959-1986 — Dan Wright (174-104-8)
  • 1956-1958 — Eldon Wright (9-11-3)
  • 1949-1955 — Marion Tree (38-20-1)
  • 1945-1948 — Unknown (8-22-1)
  • 1942-1944 — Floyd "Slick" Slater (20-6)
  • 1940-1941 — Unknown (8-3-1)
  • 1939 — Lou Neeley (3-2-1)
  • 1932-1938 — Unknown (5-28)
  • 1928-1931 — F. G. "Frosty" Richards (5-13-2)
  • 1924-1927 — Unknown (10-8-1)

.....

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Matthias Dunn, K
  • 2015 — Ben Bos, OL
  • 2015 — Skyler Southam, K
  • 2010 — Keefer Babbitt WR
  • 2009 — Payton Davis, QB
  • 2009 — Kaleb Moritz, LB/OL
  • 2009 — Cory Nielson, DB/WR
  • 2009 — Mike Davis, WR/FS

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