Prep football two-a-days: Diamond Ranch
It's unlikely any school in Utah is more unpredictable than Diamond Ranch as far which athletes are in the football program.
The school that describes itself as a "residential treatment school for struggling teens" practically has a new student body composition each year and is made up of students from many different states.
And that unpredictability can extend to wild swings within a season, too. Many of the athletes come into the school in Hurricane with little to no football experience and it can take several games for potential to start rounding into form.
Then things can bounce in the other direction rather quickly as well.
Robbie Dias, who has more than a dozen seasons under his belt at Diamond Ranch, saw his Diamondbacks go undefeated in region before then losing to Altamont, a fourth-seeded team in the 1A playoffs, in the opening round last season.
"We had a couple of key players suspended before the playoffs," said Dias, whose team's only other loss to a 1A opponent came to eventual state champ Duchesne.
As always, predicting this year's Diamond Ranch fortunes is difficult.
But Dias likes the talent he has in quarterback Saxon Mingus, wideout Braden Burnside, linebacker Charles Chuning and senior lineman Joe Yeager. And he said that his team's play in summer camps and 7-on-7 summer leagues bodes well for the Diamondbacks this season.
"I think we'll be very tough," Dias said. "We start from scratch, which makes it tough. But they are eating together, sleeping in dorms and they can become a very tight-knit group."
Diamond Ranch Diamondbacks
ASSIGNMENT • Class 1A South
LAST YEAR • 7-4 overall, 4-0 Class 1A South
KEY RETURNER • Saxon Mingus, sr., MLB/QB
PLAYER TO WATCH • Braden Burnside, sr., WR-FS
BIGGEST HOLE • The Diamondbacks may be quick along the defensive line, but they aren't very big.
NEED TO KNOW • About 50 percent of Diamond Ranch's squad never before has played football, according to coach Dias.