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High school football: Morgan Trojans 2019 preview

Note: Morgan finished with an 8-3 overall record in 2018 and was first in 3A North with a 5-0 record. It lost to North Sanpete 23-15 in the 3A semifinals.

Morgan 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

MORGAN — That 2020 group of standout football players are finally seniors at Morgan High School.

One of them is coach Kovi Christiansen’s son Karson, which means he’s had a front-row seat watching this group of players for the past eight or nine years and he’s always been impressed.

As junior last year they were instrumental in leading Morgan to the 3A semifinals, but now this season it is their team and the sky is the limit.

“I think we’re going to be better than last year. I’ve watched them since they were tiny and I know what they can do. The greatest attribute about this group of seniors is they love to see each other succeed and they celebrate when each other are successful. That’s a trait you don’t often get anymore. This group is so supportive and they all get along.”

There’s some extra motivation behind the group as well.

A year ago Morgan went into the state tournament as one of the favorites, but things unraveled in the semifinals as it lost to North Sanpete 23-15 after turning the ball over six times.

“Having six turnovers and still losing the game by just eight left kind of a bitter taste in some of their mouths, especially our quarterback. I think he wants to prove that wasn’t him that game. I think the kids are pretty motivated,” said Christiansen.

Quarterback Carter Thackeray had a great junior season, passing for 2,663 yards and 27 TDs a year ago, but three interceptions in the final game of the season has been motivation to stay hungry and get better

Morgan’s offense ranked fourth in 3A a year ago, which could see a jump with numerous skill position players returning. Its defense ranked first last season, and despite graduating many key starters the coaching staff is bullish on the potential of this group heading into the 2019 season.

Morgan Trojans at a glance

Coach: Kovi Christiansen is entering his 13th season as head coach at Morgan High School, where he’s amassed a 95-44 record the past 12 years. He’s a graduate of Lovell High School in Wyoming.

Coach Christiansen comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“My big concern is it lengthened the season and some years you’re not very deep and the further you go in the playoffs the more injuries to critical positions you sometimes get. It lengthened everything out and allows for more teams to be involved in the playoffs but it also allows for more chances of injury.”

Morgan Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: John Millward

2018 offensive production: 30.9 ppg (4th in 3A)

-- Five returning starters

-- Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

-- Carter Thackeray (QB)

Completed 193 of 311 passes last year for 2,663 yards, 27 TDs and 11 interceptions. Big things are expected for his senior year.

-- Ryker Keele (OL)

Dominant lineman is back to anchor the Trojans’ O-line again at center for his junior year.

Returning offensive starters

Carter Thackeray (QB)

Trevor Jarrett (RB)

Gage Thornton (RB)

Porter Giles (RB/WR)

Jack Cameron (WR)

Ryker Keele (OL)

Jaxson Wells (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Brinton Winn (WR)

Karson Christiansen (WR)

Luke Nichols (OL)

Connor Watkins (OL)

Jameson Burraston (OL)

Coach Christiansen comments on senior quarterback Carter Thackery:

“We’re hoping for great things out of him. He’s been working with our offensive coordinator quite a bit about reading defenses and recognizing coverages and hopefully having that experience last year will help him get out of the gate quicker this year.”

Coach Christiansen comments on running back by committee:

“We have all of them back from last year, Trevor Jarrett, Gage Thornton and Porter Giles. They were all pretty instrumental last year and saw significant playing time. We’re hoping to use all three because they all three have different strengths. We’re not really the kind of team that gives a kid the ball 40 times in a game, I just don’t think most high school kids are durable enough for that through a long season.”

Coach Christiansen comments on balance at receiver with graduation of Tyson Hurd:

“It was nice to have Tyson to rely on, but this year we have a lot more guys we can rely on. Carter Thackery has been playing with these guys since they were tiny cause they’re all in his grade, he has a bunch of guys that I think he trusts and understands what their strengths are. We’re hoping sharing a little more of the receiving duties will help our team out.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

Morgan will win a lot of games on talent alone this year, but in those evenly matched games playing smart football will be very important. Christiansen said it’s important for QB Carter Thackeray to be happy with what the defense is giving, even if that means taking the short passes and patiently moving the ball downfield. Impatience is what can sometimes get Morgan’s offense into trouble.

Morgan Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Jarod Barlow

2018 defensive production: 11.5 ppg (1st in 3A)

-- Four returning starters

-- 4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

-- Jamesen Burraston (DL)

One of the top defensive linemen in 3A last year, Burraston is back after leading Morgan in tackles last season.

-- Connor Watkins (DL)

Was one of Morgan’s top tacklers on the defensive line a year ago and is a great complementary player up front for Burraston.

Returning defensive starters

Jameson Burraston (DL)

Connor Watkins (DL)

Ethan Wheeler (LB) – moving from S

Jay Carrigan (CB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Treyson Jones (DL)

Porter Giles (LB)

Dexter Gilson (LB)

Jakob Burt (CB)

Ryder Lish (S)

Coach Christiansen comments on defensive lineman Jamesen Burraston:

“The sky is the limit with him. Other teams have to prepare for him, they have to scheme for him. He saw a lot of double and triple teams last year and we imagine he’s going to see a lot of that as well. He’s definitely the anchor of that defense.”

Coach Christiansen comments on linebacker Ethan Wheeler:

“We’re moving Ethan Wheeler from safety to linebacker. He’s got quite a bit bigger and sometimes his speed and athleticism and his desire is sometimes wasted 'cause he’s so far away from the ball. We’re going to get him up and turn him loose a little bit more often and let him make athletic plays.”

Coach Christiansen comments on defensive mentality:

They’re going to be quick, athletic and aggressive. We’ll have 11 kids that get after it. They’re get to the ball and rally to the ball, that’s kind of what we’ve tried to do the whole time I’ve been here.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

With just four full-time starters back from Morgan’s 3A-best defense a year ago, there are obviously big shoes to fill. Coach Christiansen believes this year’s group can even be better than a year ago but that depends on how well they play together and communication. He said the inexperienced players can’t sit back and let someone else lead, he said everyone needs to have that aggressive mentality.

Bottom line:

Morgan has won three straight region titles, and is the favorite to win the Region 13 title again this season. That’s not on anyone’s mind, though. Morgan hasn’t won a state title since 1997, and this team has the talent to end that two-decade drought. Winning championships is hard, and a lot of things need to unfold favorably, but the personnel is there for this to finally be the year for the Trojans.

Coaches preseason Region 13 straw poll: First

Deseret News Region 13 prediction: First

Key Region Game: vs. Summit Academy, Sept. 20 (Week 6)

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — at Grand, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — OGDEN, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — BEN LOMOND, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — SUMMIT ACADEMY, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Judge Memorial, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at South Summit, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Grantsville, 7 p.m.

….

Felt’s Facts for Morgan High School

All-time record: 474-337-22 (91 years)

Region championships: 24 (1930 co, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1975 co, 1976, 1977 co, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1989, 1991 co, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2005 co, 2008, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Playoff appearances: 51

Current playoff appearance streak: 23 (1995-2018)

All-time playoff record: 54-45

State championships: 6 (1940, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1997)

State championship record: 6-6

Most played rivalry: 83 meetings with Wasatch dating back to 1928. Wasatch leads 50-31-2.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Morgan holds the single-game sack record (tied with Weber) of 15, set in 1972 against Grantsville. ... Trojan Jordan Wamsley returned five kickoffs for TDs in 2009 to set a state season record (tied with San Juan’s Jens Wilson). … Trojan Kenny Adams set the single-game tackle record, 36, in 1993 and the unassisted tackle record, 20, in the same game.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 8-3 (5-0 in 3A North – 3A Semifinals)
  • 2017 — 9-3 (5-0 in 3A North – 3A Runner-up)
  • 2016 — 8-4 (5-0 in 3A North – 3A Semifinals)
  • 2015 — 10-3 (4-1 in 3A North – 3A Runner-up)
  • 2014 — 6-4 (3-2 in 3A North – 3A Quarterfinals)

...

Morgan coaching history

  • 2007-current — Kovi Christiansen (95-44)
  • 1997-2006 — Renn Hoopes (81-33)
  • 1994-1996 — Mike Grajek (19-10)
  • 1990-1993 — Blaine Monkres (32-9)
  • 1988-1989 — Steve Coburn (13-6)
  • 1985-1987 — Jan Smith (113-59-1)
  • 1984 — Dave Christiansen (5-4)
  • 1972-1983 — Jan Smith (113-59-1)
  • 1971 — Richard Rodak (3-6-1)
  • 1969-1970 — Brent Thorne (9-11)
  • 1967-1968 — Joe Dilworth (11-7-1)
  • 1962-1966 — Bob Wilson (15-24)
  • 1961 — Bob Wilson/Don Johnson (2-6)
  • 1958-1960 — Don Johnson/Don Guest (7-11-1)
  • 1957 — Jack Raymond (0-6)
  • 1950-1956 — Kent Murdock (12-19-1)
  • 1949 — Tally Stevens (3-3-1)
  • 1947-1948 — Garth Bellston (10-3-4)
  • 1946 — Francis Porter (5-4-1)
  • 1941-1945 — Fred Bohman (8-22-1)
  • 1939-1940 — Bill Cowley (10-2-2)
  • 1929-1938 — Wes Schwab (19-24-3)
  • 1928 — I.L. Peterson (1-2-1)

….

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Carter Thackeray, QB
  • 2018 — Tyson Hurd, WR
  • 2018 — Jamesen Burraston, DT
  • 2018 — Colten Hansen, LB
  • 2018 — Carson Flitton, K
  • 2017 — Jay Carrigan, CB
  • 2017 — Chase Trussell, LB
  • 2017 — Dillon Petty, OL
  • 2017 — Tyson Hurd, WR
  • 2016 — Austin Francis, RB
  • 2016 — Hunter Beddoes, OL
  • 2016 — Cade Moore, DE
  • 2016 — Conley Breshears, LB
  • 2015 — Spencer Larsen, RB
  • 2015 — Wyatt Ekblad, DL
  • 2015 — Jared Fry, DB
  • 2015 — Dallen Calder, K
  • 2014 — Bridger Streadbeck, TE
  • 2014 — Wyatt Ekblad, DL
  • 2014 — Nick Porter, DB
  • 2013 — Kade Carrigan, RB
  • 2013 — Kyle Stapley, OL
  • 2012 — Lantzen Toomer, Specialist
  • 2011 — Boston Saunders, DL
  • 2010 — Tad Sargent, RB
  • 2009 — Jordan Wamsley, SP

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