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High school football: Box Elder Bees 2019 preview

Note: Box Elder finished with a 7-4 overall record in 2018 and was tied for first in Region 5 with a 4-1 record. It lost to Springville 17-13 in the 5A first round.

Box Elder 2018 offensive and defensive stats

BRIGHAM CITY — Box Elder head coach Robbie Gunter is entering his 10th season at the helm of the Bees football program and his tenure has been best characterized by consistency.

The Bees are 54-58 overall under Gunter, 27-31 in the last five years, and nearly always competitive. Last season, Box Elder finished 7-4 record, 4-1 in Region 5, the latter of which was good enough for a first place finish in region play.

All of which is to say, that even though the Bees enter 2019 with a considerable lack of experience — Box Elder returns only three starters on either side of the ball — things haven’t changed in Brigham City.

The Box Elder formula works and it is one they are sticking with.

“We don’t return a lot of guys, but it is just the same process we have every year,” Gunter said. “We try to evaluate what we’ve got and try to get the whole team better.”

It is an interesting process for the Bees, as much of the team is comprised of multiple sport athletes.

On the one hand, the opportunity to play different sports gives Box Elder athletes the chance to gain critical competitive experience.

“They learn how to win and compete with other places,” Gunter said. “We are leaders in having multiple sport athletes, and our kids buy into that and have a lot of great success in those other sports. That makes it a lot of fun when we come together for football.”

Of course, the downside is a lack of offseason training together for football, as athletes are still competing in their other sports.

“We have some work to do there,” Gunter said. “We put them all together here and have to make it work. We play different sports, so we don’t get them in the offseason. This is when we get them.”

Still, the formula has worked for Gunter and the Bees and the expectation remains that that will be the case this season.

“It is good, and we are excited,” said Gunter. “We like the kids we’ve got and we are going to be competitive.”

Box Elder Bees at a glance

Coach: Robbie Gunter is entering his 10th season as head coach at Box Elder. He has guided the Bees to a 54-58 overall record. Prior to his time in Brigham City, Gunter was the head coach at Viewmont. His overall head coaching record is 90-87. He is a graduate of Marsh Valley High School in Idaho.

Gunter’s comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“Oh, I don’t have a real opinion yet. We are going to do it and see how it goes. I have studied it in the other states — I coach wrestling too — and the goal is always to get the best teams into the playoffs and the best teams into the semis for sure. That is what this seems to do. I am happy with it. I am excited. It’ll add another playoff game and the playoffs are a blast.”

Box Elder offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Mike Robinson

2018 offensive production: 22.3 ppg (15th in 5A)

— 3 returning starters

— Wing T offense

Key offensive returning starters

Parker Buchanan (QB)

Threw for nearly 1,000 yards (904) and 11 touchdowns last year and completed 63-139 pass attempts. Added an additional five rushing touchdowns on 53 carries.

Nate Wheatley (WR)

Averaged 22.14 yards per catch in 2018, hauling in seven passes for 155 total yards. Wheatley added 79 rushing yards last year and finished the season with two touchdown receptions and a rushing touchdown.

Returning offensive starters

Nate Wheatley (WR)

Kellen Collier (OL)

Parker Buchanan (QB)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Harrison Hodgson (FB)

Zeke Martinez (TE)

Gunter’s comments on the Bees’ offensive line:

“We lost most of our line on both sides of the ball so we have some work to do there, but the kids have put in the work in the weight room. We’ve got kids. Our line group is a good sized group, but they are just learning and figuring it out. Sometimes the challenge for a high school kid that is tall and long and big is just the ability to get down low and block a shorter guy. It is all about training.”

Gunter’s comments on returning quarterback Parker Buchanan:

“I’m excited to see what happens with our quarterback. I can’t remember the last time I had a returning quarterback before. Usually it takes time to develop them, from wide receiver or running back, and then when they are seniors they are the quarterback. This time, I have a returner and he is only a junior.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

The Bees have talent, it is just largely inexperienced. Any success this season will come down to how quickly that talent can come together and execute as a team. The return of Buchanan should go a long way in that regard.

Box Elder Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Travis Mumford

2018 defensive production: 20.6 ppg (6th in 5A)

— 3 returning starters

— 4-4/4-2-5 defense

Key defensive returning starters

Logan Holgate (LB)

Was all over the place last season. He finished with 52 total tackles, best among all returners, recorded 2½ sacks and added two interceptions. His best game came against the Layton Lancers, when he racked up 11 tackles and 1½ sacks.

Bentley Miles (CB)

Recorded 23 tackles and three interceptions, second-best mark on the team. Had a season-best five tackles against Bonneville.

Returning defensive starters

Logan Holgate (LB)

Nate Wheatley (CB)

Bentley Miles (CB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Brayden Peterson (FS)

Kellen Collier (LB)

Gunter’s comments on running a 4-4 or 4-2-5 defense:

“It is kind of personnel. We have speed and we have kids who like to tackle. We have a good wrestling program here and it gives us those kinds of kids. This defense gives those kids the opportunity to play in space and attack those legs.”

Gunter’s comments on the Bees’ secondary:

“We have both our starting corners from last year back. We lost an awesome free safety, but the guy that is back there now is a stud too. He will do a great job. Our other safeties are young, but they are up-and-comers and we feel good about them.”

Gunter’s comments on the Bees’ linebacker corps:

“Our two linebackers from last year (Holgate and Collier) are back. We feel good about that spot of the defense. We feel good about a lot of spots. We just have to get better. Get better as a team.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

Everything comes down to the defensive front for the Bees. Box Elder returns skill players in the secondary and at linebacker but not much experience on the defensive line. If the line can gel quickly the Bees have a chance at having an excellent defense.

Bottom line

Box Elder is one of those teams that is consistently a difficult out and that should remain the case this upcoming season. The return of quarterback Parker Buchanan, as well as some vital defenders should help the Bees withstand the difficulty of replacing a large portion of the team that tied for first place in Region 5 last season. Another high region finish will come down to how well the team comes together and develops.

Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Second

Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Second

Key region game: at Viewmont, Sept. 20, (Week 6)

2019 schedule

Aug. 16 — at Kearns, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — at Mountain Crest, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — GREEN CANYON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — FARMINGTON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — BOUNTIFUL, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Murray, 7 p.m.

Felts Facts for Box Elder High School

All-time record: 570-343-25 (102 years)

Region championships: 35 (1919, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966 co, 1968, 1982, 1983 co, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1995, 1996, 2001 co, 2003, 2004 co, 2010 co)

Playoff appearances: 61

Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2018)

All-time playoff record: 43-53-1

State championships: 8 (1926, 1928, 1935, 1945, 1946, 1946, 1957, 1960, 1995)

State championship record: 6-10-1

Most played rivalry: 98 meetings with Logan dating back to 1919. Box Elder leads 62-33-3.

Felt’s Factoids: Box Elder meeting Bear River 95 times is the longest uninterrupted active rivalry in state history, having been played every season since 1923. The winner has taken home a traveling trophy, the Golden Spike, since 1959. … Box Elder holds the record for most consecutive undefeated, untied regular seasons with four (tied with two others). The Bees didn’t lose a regular-season game from 1933 through 1936. … Joe Call gained 593 all-purpose yards in a contest in 1925, a single-game record that remains one of the oldest individual state records


Last five

  • 2018 — 7-4 (4-1 in Region 5 — 5A first round)
  • 2017 — 4-6 (0-4 in Region 5 — missed playoffs)
  • 2016 — 6-6 (2-3 in Region 5 — 4A quarterfinals)
  • 2015 — 5-8 (2-4 in Region 5 — 4A first round)
  • 2014 — 5-7 (2-4 in Region 5 — 4A first round)


Box Elder coaching history

  • 2009-current — Robbie Gunter (54-58)
  • 1991-2008 — Wes Roesler (128-71)
  • 1988-1990 — Larry Findley (18-10)
  • 1981-1987 — Michale Madeo (39-29)
  • 1979-1980 — Larry Findley (10-10)
  • 1974-1978 — Gordon Peterson (21-25)
  • 1960-1973 — Les Dunn (80-55)
  • 1921-1959 — Earl Ferguson (213-78)
  • 1917-1920 — Alvin Twitchell (7-7)


Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Ethyn Butler, OG
  • 2015 — Haydn Stender, OL
  • 2014 — Riley Burt, RB
  • 2014 — Jarom Meacham, DB
  • 2013 — Luke Daley, OL
  • 2013 — Breckin Gunter, LB
  • 2012 — Breckin Gunter, LB
  • 2011 — Britton Gunter, DB

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