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High school football: San Juan Broncos 2020 preview

Here’s an in-depth look at the San Juan Broncos football team heading into the 2020 season.

Note: San Juan finished with an 8-3 overall record in 2019 and was first in Region 12 with a 5-0 record. It was RPI seed No. 6 in the 3A playoffs and was eliminated by Richfield 41-20 in first round.


BLANDING — Last year, San Juan handled the jump to 3A well, capturing a Region 12 title and an 8-3 regular season record. Though the Broncos fell in the first round to Richfield, it was still a fairly successful first season in 3A.

“I thought we had a really good season, winning the region. Our first year in 3A, so our first 3A region championship, something we were really proud about,” San Juan head coach Barkley Christensen said. “Then we got to the postseason. We didn’t go as far as we expected, so that was kind of disappointing, but I was proud of our guys our first year competing in 3A. I was really happy with it.”

This year, San Juan will be fairly young, especially on the offensive side of the ball, with only two starters returning on offense and four returning on defense.

“We’re really young but think we’re going to be right in the same position that we were last year, competing for region championship and making a run in the playoffs. We’re really young. We’ve got pretty much all juniors playing, so it’ll be a learning experience, but I still expect us to be really competitive,” Christensen said.


San Juan Broncos at a glance

Christensen’s thoughts on how his players dealt the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:

“Just a little more protocols put in place, but other than that, I think we’ve prepared just as we would without it. It’s just a little bit more extra work after getting everything clean and sanitized. Once they gave us the go-ahead to go in June, there’s obviously just like I said, protocols in place, but other than that, it’s been pretty normal and smooth.”

San Juan offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Barkley Christensen

2019 offense: 40.5 (first in 3A)

2019 offensive statistics
  • Two returning starters
  • Spread offense
Returning offensive starters
  • Jaden Baker (G)
  • Cooper Black (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
  • Jace Palmer (QB)
  • Jensen Grover (RB)
  • Landon Black (WR)
  • Ladd Ivans (WR)
Christensen’s keys for offensive success in 2020:

“Our quarterback and our offensive line. My quarterback in our offense, we run the spread, so he kind of makes all the decisions, so we’ll go as far as he takes us and if our offensive line can get some movement. I think that’s that’s our biggest keys are quarterback and our offensive line.”


San Juan defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Bobby Bowring and Landon Palmer

2019 defense: 24.1 ppg (ninth in 3A)

2019 defensive statistics
  • Four returning starters
  • 4-2-5 defense
Returning defensive starters
  • Ladd Ivins (DB)
  • Jensen Grover (MLB)
  • Cooper Black (DB)
  • Bronson Snyder (DE)
Defensive newcomers to watch
  • Maddax Lee (DT)
  • Bronson Snyder (DE)
  • Landon Black (LB)
Christensen’s keys for offensive success in 2020:

“We got a new defensive coordinator, so playing assignment football, understanding the new scheme and just doing their job. Those are the biggest keys that we’re preaching. Just know the scheme, do your job. We’ll be fine.”

Deseret News outlook for 2020

San Juan is inexperienced in terms of returning starters but has the talent and coaching to make noise again in Region 12. The Broncos’ spread system relies heavily on quarterback play, so the effectiveness of whomever takes the QB reigns will determine how potent the Broncos’ offense, first in the league last year, will be.


Felt’s Facts for San Juan

  • All-time record: 427-235-4 (64 years)

  • Region championships: 19 (1958, 1960, 1992 co, 1993, 1994 co, 1995 co, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004 co, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019)
  • Playoff appearances: 45
  • All-time playoff record: 59-39

  • State championships: 6 (1989, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010)

  • State championship record: 6-7

  • Most played rivalry: 73 meetings with Grand dating back to 1956. San Juan leads 43-30.


Last five seasons

  • 2019 — 8-3 (5-0 in Region 12 — 3A first round)
  • 2018 — 6-4 (4-1 in 2A South — 2A quarterfinals)
  • 2017 — 4-7 (2-3 in 2A South — 2A quarterfinals)
  • 2016 — 9-2 (5-0 in 2A South — 2A semifinals)
  • 2015 — 7-4 (4-1 in 2A South — 2A semifinals)

San Juan coaching history

  • 2017-current — Barkley Christensen (18-14)
  • 2003-2016 — Monty Lee (128-31) *three state titles
  • 1987-2002 — Art Burtenshaw (133-49) *three state titles
  • 1983-1986 — Morris Swenson (23-15)

  • 1974-1982 — George Bayles (46-47)

  • 1972-1973 — Murray Kula (5-11)

  • 1969-1971 — Mike Blair (12-19)

  • 1968 — Dennis Udy (6-4)

  • 1957-1967 — Morris Swenson (54-43)

  • 1956 — Neldon Cochran (2-2)


San Juan All-State at-a-glance

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
  • 2010 — Stetler Shumway, RB/LB

  • 2009 — Jace Holliday, RB/DE

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
  • 2019 — Shaw Nielson, QB
  • 2019 — Kian Conway, TB
  • 2018 — Tanner Black, OL
  • 2018 — Shaw Nielson, DB
  • 2017 — Bayl’r Eldredge, ATH
  • 2016 — Jordan Blake, QB/DB
  • 2016 — Kavika Su’eSu’e, RB/LB
  • 2016 — Jaxon Lee, TE/LB
  • 2016 — Conner Palmer, OL/DL
  • 2016 — Lucas Giddings, OL/DL
  • 2015 — Payton Palmer, QB/LB
  • 2015 — Bronz Eldredge, RB/LB
  • 2015 — Kavika Su’esu’e, RB/LB
  • 2015 — Reilley Myrick, DL
  • 2014 — Payton Palmer, QB/LB
  • 2014 — Trason Jack, FB/LB
  • 2014 — Bronz Eldredge, FB/LB
  • 2014 — Easton Lee, OL/DL
  • 2013 — Jens Grover, RB/LB

  • 2012 — Barkley Christensen, QB/DB

  • 2012 — Logan Meyer, RB/LB

  • 2012 — Bobby Bowring, WR/DB

  • 2012 — Bogh Bayles, OL/DE

  • 2011 — Barkley Christensen, QB/DB

  • 2011 — Logan Meyer, RB/LB

  • 2011 — Bogh Bayles, OL/DL

  • 2011 — Landon Palmer, OL/DL

  • 2010 — Colby Redd RB

  • 2010 — Taj Eldredge OL/LB

  • 2010 — Cameron Shumway QB

  • 2010 — AJ Slavens OL/DL

  • 2010 — Tyler Nielson WR/DB