Note: Pleasant Grove finished with an 8-4 overall record in 2019 and was fourth in Region 4 with a 2-3 record. It was RPI seed No. 9 in the 6A playoffs, and was eliminated by Syracuse 27-14 in second round.
PLEASANT GROVE — Stocked with good returning talent on both sides of the football, Pleasant Grove coach Mark Wootton feels his team could see some improvement from last season.
That’s not to say 2019 was a disappointment, though. Playing in the highly competitive Region 4, the Vikings managed an 8-4 record before being eliminated by Syracuse in the second round. The goal this season will be to surpass that mark and perhaps even a trip to the state championship.
Head coach: Mark Wootton
Tied with Dixie’s Blaine Monkres as the most tenured coach in the state, entering his 30th season as a head coach in Utah with a 189-129 record. He’s previously coached at North Sanpete (1991-2003) and Mountain Crest (2004-2015), winning a state title with Mountain Crest in 2005. He’s entering his fifth season at Pleasant Grove, where his teams have posted a 26-22 record the past four years.
“Hopefully we’ll prove to have a bit better depth this year, but we have some kids back that we’re real excited about,” Wootton said. “We feel we have some real good talent which gives us a chance to be a good team this year.”
Leading the charge of those returning are brothers Rex and Porter Connors, who are set to play big roles on both sides of the football, along with Isaac Vaha, who is rising to become one of the more highly-recruited players in the state.
“We’re real lucky to have the Connors playing for us and Isaac is still improving, and that’s exciting,” Wootton said. “He’s so talented, but still so raw with his skillset. I think you could see a lot of improvements from him throughout the year.”
Also joining the ranks is former BYU star and coach Brandon Doman, who will be helping coordinate the offense.
“Brandon is so competitive, and I told him that as long as he has some sons playing for us, he may as well help coach,” Wootton said. “So he agreed to do it and it’s a real blessing to have him.”
Of course it all comes down to the players, and Wootton believes he has the kids necessary to outperform expectations.
‘I’ve really been impressed with how most of them found ways to work out even when the facilities were closed because of COVID-19,” Wootton said. “They’ve shown a lot of character that way and I’m proud of them for doing it. I think you’ll see that work pay off this season.”
Pleasant Grove Vikings at a glance
Coach Wootton’s thoughts on how his players dealt the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:
“Kids are resilient, and not having really seen anyone really affected by it makes it difficult to know exactly what it is, but that’s the same for everyone, I guess. But they’ve done well through all of it, I feel. The kids just really want to play and we feel real lucky we have a chance to play. There’s a lot of kids around the country who aren’t being given the chance, so we just work to let them realize that, and they do realize it, and aren’t taking it for granted. They’re making the best of it.”
Aug. 14 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.
Aug. 21 — MAPLE MOUNTAIN, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 — WASATCH, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — at Lehi, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — at Corner Canyon, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — SKYRIDGE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — AMERICAN FORK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 — at Westlake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Lone Peak, 7 p.m.
Pleasant Grove offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Mark Wootton/Brandon Doman
2019 offense: 29.1 (10th in 6A)
2019 offensive statistics
- 6 returning starters
- multiple offense
Returning offensive starters
- Isaac Vaha (TE)
- Rex Connors (RB)
- Porter Connors (RB/TE)
- Wyatt Dawe (OL)
- Russell Hughes (OL)
- Brooks Winterton (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Carter Merrill (RB)
Coach Wootton’s keys for offensive success in 2020:
“We need to find a quarterback. We have really good running backs and receivers, and we really like our line. But we need a quarterback to step up after some guys we thought we’d have got hurt. So we’ll choose between about four guys competing here soon, and make the best of it.”
Pleasant Grove defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Steve Brady/Dom Moe
2019 defense: 21.3 ppg (10th in 6A)
2019 defensive statistics
- 7 returning starters
- multiple defense
Returning defensive starters
- Noa Toketa (DL)
- Rex Connors (DB)
- Porter Connors (LB)
- Isaac Vaha (DE)
- Spencer Tauteoli (LB)
- Kaden Bishop (DB)
- Evan Robinson (LB)
Coach Wootton’s keys for defensive success in 2020:
“I think we’re going to be really good on defense. We have a lot of guys who have started since they were sophomores and some who even played as freshmen, so that’s going to help us. We love our linebackers and defensive front, and feel our defensive backs are solid. We really do feel we’ll be able to field a real good defense this year.”
Coaches preseason Region 4 straw poll
- Corner Canyon
- Lone Peak
- American Fork
- Pleasant Grove
Deseret News outlook for 2020
So much of what Pleasant Grove’s success will rest on finding a quarterback. Not having narrowed down who exactly will be playing quarterback just weeks before the season isn’t a good thing, and could prove the difference between the Vikings and the other top teams in Region 4. Should a good quarterback emerge, the Vikings have the other parts in place to make a real run in the postseason which may include a trip to the semifinal round at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Felt’s Facts for Pleasant Grove
- All-time record: 404-393-11 (79 years)
- Region championships: 14 (1955, 1956, 1957, 1973 co, 1982 co, 1986 co, 1988 co, 1993 co, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2007 co, 2008, 2013 co)
- Playoff appearances: 36
- All-time playoff record: 33-33
- State championships: 3 (1955, 1956, 1993)
- State championship record: 3-2
- Most played rivalry: 85 meetings with American Fork dating back to 1931. American Fork leads 53-30-2.
Last 5 Seasons
- 2019 — 8-4 (2-3 in Region 4 – 6A Second round)
- 2018 — 8-5 (1-3 in Region 4 – 6A Semifinals)
- 2017 — 4-8 (1-3 in Region 4 – 6A Quarterfinals)
- 2016 — 6-5 (4-2 in Region 4 – 5A First round)
- 2015 — 7-5 (4-2 in Region 4 – 5A Quarterfinals)
Pleasant Grove coaching history
- 2016-current — Mark Wootton (28-22)
- 2012-2015 — Les Hamilton (28-17)
- 2004-2011 — Dale Sampson (48-44)
- 1987-2003 — Bill Mikelson (89-83) *1 state title
- 1980-1986 — Doug Bluth (46-26)
- 1976-1979 — Bill Kelly (17-21)
- 1971-1975 — Paul Gillespie (32-17)
- 1967-1970 — Unknown (15-22)
- 1966 — Ron Nielson (4-5)
- 1962-1965 — Gordon Osborne (18-15-3)
- 1957-1961 — Unknown (18-22-2)
- 1958-1959 — James Ditty (58-59)
- 1955-1956 — Ned Alger (22-0) *2 state titles
- 1953-1954 — Gil Meier (5-9-2)
- 1952 — Mr. Shifrer (0-7)
- 1943-1951 — Unknown (25-39)
- 1937-1942 — Earl “Duke” Giles (8-26-1)
- 1936 — Elroy West (0-4)
- 1908-1935 — Unknown (3-14-3)
Deseret News All-State Archives
Check out our archives of Deseret News all-state teams from 1929 to 2019 at Deseret.com.
Pleasant Grove All-State at-a-glance
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2018 — Dayne Christiansen, RB
- 2018 — Keegan Wilkinson, OL
- 2015 — Malik Overstreet (WR)
- 2015 — Walker Wolfgramm (OL)
- 2014 — Demetrius Davis, OL
- 2013 — Zac Dawe, DL
- 2011 — Brandon Fanaika, OL
- 2010 — Austin Heder LB