EDITOR’S NOTE • This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.
Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen is trying his best to temper expectations for the 2014 season, but he may be fighting an uphill battle.
The Stallions return seven or eight starters on each side of the ball from a team that finished second in the Class 3AA North a season ago, and have two of the top talents in the state in the backfield.
These Stallions are ready to bust loose from the stable.
“Our Achilles heel has been the first round of the playoffs,” said Christiansen, whose team has lost to the eventual state champion each of the past two years. “That’s why it’s important we finish first and give ourselves a little better matchup against a 4-seed from the South, though they won’t be a pushover.”
Stansbury returns senior quarterback Gage Manzione, who started the final seven games in 2013 after Chase Christiansen went down with injury.
The running game that amassed more than 3,000 yards last year returns two-way standouts Hudson Conrad and Zayne Anderson.
Manzione’s ability to throw the ball — “we threw more at the Utah State summer camp than we ever had,” said Christiansen — means defenses can’t key on stopping the run.
That’s just what the Stallions are hoping for.
Last year • 7-4 (5-1 Class 3AA North)
Key returner • The Stallions will rely heavily on two seniors on both sides of the ball. RB/CB Hudson Conrad is one of the fastest kids in the state; RB/S Zayne Anderson has garnered interest from BYU and Utah State.
Players to watch • The triple-option offense relies heavily on its fullback, a position to be filled by Josh Griffeth and Clay Matthews.
Biggest hole • A run team is nothing without a solid offensive line, and the Stallions are “reloading” up front, looking to fill two starting positions.
Need to know • Stansbury is switching to a 3-4 defense.