San Juan saw great success in 2016 but is in a different spot heading into the 2017 campaign.
First-year coach Barkley Christensen brings a new offensive scheme — the spread offense. The Broncos graduated 17 players from last season’s 9-2 team, and they have only two returning starters with one playing both ways.
Even with all these changes, one thing will stay the same.
“San Juan football and defense have always gone hand-in-hand,” Christensen said. “Our defense is looking to pick right back up where it did a season ago.”
The Broncos have a new defensive coordinator in Kol Conway, and Christensen is excited to build his team around a solid defense.
“Our defense is one thing that will not be changing much with the new coaching change,” Christensen said. “This new group of kids is waiting to show everyone they can live up to San Juan’s defensive expectations.”
SAN JUAN BRONCOS
Coach • Barkley Christensen, first year
Last season • 9-2, 5-0 in Class 2A South; Lost to South Summit, 38-21, in 2A state semifinal
State championships • 1989, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010
Other state title game appearances • 1960, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2005, 2012
Aug. 18 • South Summit, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 • Monticello, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 • at Delta, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 • Beaver, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 • at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 • South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 • at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 • Grand County, 7 p.m.
Behind center • The Broncos’ starting quarterback spot is up for grabs. Senior Baylr Eldredge and junior Corbin Palmer both have fared well in the spread offense during preseason practices. “Both guys are making it a very difficult choice to make for the coaching staff,” Christensen said. Even without the changes, San Juan would have had to install a new starter since last year’s starter, Jordan Blake, graduated. The new scheme and healthy competition will tell a lot about where this year’s Broncos finish.
Ball hawks • The Broncos will need even more reliable receivers to effectively execute the spread. Lucky for them, there are five capable candidates in the rotation — seniors Jaden Torgerson and Ethan Vess, juniors Landen Pemberton and Carlos Redd and sophomore Shaw Nielson. Torgerson missed last season after an injury in the preseason. None of the five has varsity experience.
In the trenches • The theme for this year’s Broncos is players stepping up into new or expanded roles. This is the most prevalent on the lines. Senior guard Jens Jones has been a breakout star in the preseason. Senior defensive end Avery Mitchell spent the summer in the weight room, and it shows. Look for Jones and Mitchell to make a big impact on a young line.
Hit men • The defense is where San Juan really can set itself apart in the 2A South. Senior middle linebacker Dylan Ivins, last season’s leading tackler, returns as the defensive anchor. Jones at middle linebacker and Eldredge at safety also will be key to a stout defense that could give teams fits.
Key returners • Dylan Ivins, Sr. (MLB); Baylr Eldredge, Sr. (QB/S)
Key losses • Kavika Sui’sui, RB/LB; Jaxon Lee, WR/LB; Jordan Blake, QB/S; Connor Palmer, OL/DL; Zach Brown, OL/DL
The next wave • Jaden Torgerson, Sr. (WR); Jens Jones, Sr. (G); Avery Mitchell, Sr. (DE); Shaw Nielson, So. (WR); Ethan Vess, Sr. (WR); Landen Pemberton, Jr. (WR); Carlos Redd, Jr. (WR); Corbin Palmer, Jr. (QB)