Prep football: Jorgensen leading Carbon again, this time as coach

Published August 28, 2014 11:55 am
Ex-Dinos star Jan Jorgensen returns to Price looking to turn around long-suffering Carbon program.
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Price • Jan Jorgensen always wanted to be a teaching coach.

He just didn't think it would happen this quickly.

But the former BYU football star found himself in a portable classroom at Carbon High, his alma mater, this past Monday. It was the day before the first day of school. There were no desks, though a stack of geography books waited to be distributed.

Posters from a Rocky movie, mixed martial arts, Vince Lombardi and basketball decorated the wall as Jorgensen worked with his assistant football coaches moments before practice to prepare for the Dinos first game.

The new coach seemed intense. He spent the day in meetings, preparing to be a teacher. Now, as he prepped for his first game as head coach, he seemed to have a million things on his mind.

"It's kind of crazy," admitted Jorgensen, who participated in mixed martial arts fighting and dabbled in sports talk radio after graduating in 2009 from BYU, where he was a stellar defensive end. "It's kind of one of those moments where you wonder, 'How did I get there?' Everything changed so fast. I got my degree in teaching. I always wanted to coach and eventually become a teaching coach. It just happened pretty fast."

Carbon isn't the easiest place for a football coach to start. Except for 2000, when the team went 10-3 and lost in the state quarterfinals — Jorgensen was a sophomore on that squad — the Dinos have struggled. They were 0-10 last year and finished with only 23 players suited up for the last game.

Longtime radio broadcaster Frank Ori, who broadcasts the games on KWSA FM, recently did some research and discovered that Carbon has averaged just 2.5 wins a season since 1970. He said Carbon has gone through seven or eight head coaches since 2003.

Jorgensen knows this.

"We have got to find a way to win," he said moments before practice. "That's a hard thing, because winning is something they haven't done a whole lot of lately. People don't understand, but it's definitely a learned skill. You have to learn how to win. It takes a lot of people buying in, but people don't want to buy in unless you actually do it."

At first impression, Carbon athletes are buying in. About 70 of them jammed into the team's tiny locker room on the edge of one of Utah's most scenic football fields. They hardly moved as Jorgensen gave them their marching orders for the day.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the team practiced on the baseball field. Maybe that was intentional. Baseball is one of the few sports where Carbon has experienced success. The Helper American Legion baseball team recently completed its second straight state championship season.

"This has been a baseball area for a long time," said Jorgensen, who lettered in basketball, baseball and wrestling in addition to football when he played at Carbon 11 years ago. "I would like it to be both. Small towns understand and know what it takes to be successful in all sports."

Jorgensen is going to get some help from a familiar face on the Carbon campus. His father Jeff, who was the head Dinos coach for 10 years and assisted for many other years, retired from teaching but agreed to return to help his son coach the offensive line and cornerbacks.

Jeff said he couldn't tell his son no.

"When he asked if the grumpy old offensive line coach would come back out of retirement, I asked him who he was talking about," joked the elder Jorgensen.

Jan said he and his father know how to push each others' buttons, just like every father and son do.

"There is absolutely no way I could do this job without him," said Jorgensen, who has also recruited retired Carbon coach Troy Moynier out of retirement as well.

Jeff is looking forward to the first time a mad parent comes to him to yell about something and he can send the angry dad or mom to Jan to take care of it.

"He's calling the defense and he's got faith in me that I have coached the offensive line for a heckuva long time," said the elder Jorgensen.

The offensive line could be important this season. Carbon was riddled by injuries last year, especially to quarterback Jarod Lesser, who only made it about a third of the way through the season. He returns this year along with slotback Garrett Blanc, both of whom should lead the revamped Dino offense.

Ori said that Carbon County fans, who always have loved the team despite its struggles, are rallying around their native son.

"It's like Jan has rejuvenated not only the football program but the community as a whole," said the long-time broadcaster. "We had more people at the Blue-White game this year that at any game since the 2000 season when they went 10-3. It's exciting. The Dinos aren't going to win the state title this year, but the town has confidence in the kids. It's important having a head coach inside the classroom and on campus all the time. And I'm excited that they brought back two of the school's most successful head coaches."

Price mayor Joe Piccolo said Carbon County is a place known to have great faith and hope, where residents know that things can change and be better.

"The development of our community for over 100 years has always been up and down," he said. "We have a huge level of support for children and a lot of talent. We are hoping the coaching change will bring competitive change. … Our football team has lost and lost and lost. The whole community has gotten behind the program with the hope that Jan Jorgensen can make it work."

Jorgensen said community support is important.

"That's something I definitely appreciate," he said. "To turn around a football program, especially a small-town high school program, it takes a whole community. They have backed me so far. The support has been phenomenal."

It remains to be seen what happens when Carbon begins to face football adversity.

But, for now, optimism is high.

After all, after going 0-10 last season, Carbon opened the Jorgensen era Friday night with a 30-12 win over Grand.


Twitter: @tribtomwharton —

About Jan Jorgensen

• Lettered in football, basketball, baseball and wrestling at Carbon.

• Was part of the last Carbon football team to post a winning record — the 2000 team that went 10-3 and lost in the state quarters.

• Played defensive end for BYU and graduated in 2009 with a degree in teaching.

• Hired as Dinos coach in 2014 and brought back two former head coaches — Jeff Jorgensen (his dad) and Troy Moynier to be assistants.



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