Coach Dennis Wells, now starting his 12th year as head coach of the Red Devils, said he hopes the team will make a serious run for the state 2A title this year. Last season, the Red Devils went 7-4 overall, ending their season with a loss in the semifinals of the playoffs to eventual champion Manti.
This year, Manti is out of the 2A picture because the Utah High School Activities Association moved the Templars up to the 3A classification for football only.
“We should be competitive,” coach Wells said of Grand’s outlook, noting that the team will have six seniors who earned all-state honors last year. Those seniors include first-teamers Jacob Francis, Koi Cook, and Edgar Gomez, as well as running back Cameron Taylor, and linemen David Bentley and Austin Day.
Francis and Cook are expected to battle it out for the quarterback position, Wells said.
Last year, Francis passed for 988 yards and 10 touchdowns, and added 765 yards and six more TDs rushing. He is also expected to resume his duties as the team’s kicker, as well as playing defensive back.
Cook also put up impressive numbers last year, rushing for 906 yards on 102 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns. He passed for 180 yards and one TD in 2012. Defensively, Cook led the entire 2A classification last year in tackles, racking up 129.
Francis and Cook will be aided in the backfield by running backs Cameron Taylor and Ronnie Dolphin, a junior. Seniors Layton Call and Kiel Schraft are expected to see action at tight end, as is junior Tanner White. Wide receivers on the squad include junior Koby Sobremesana, senior Wade Kemmsies, and sophomores Dalton McElhaney and Joseph Shumway.
The Red Devils also have several returning big men on the offensive and defensive lines, including seniors Austin Day, Edgar Gomez, and David Bentley. Fellow seniors Trae Downard and Justin Cresswell, plus junior Adam Flanders, sophomore Brandon Secrest, and junior Jason Christensen, who recently moved to Moab from North Sanpete, will help round out the offensive and defensive lines. Senior Tannen Biondo is expected to see action at linebacker, Wells said.
Wells said that a number of underclassmen are also vying for spots on the varsity roster.
“Along with all our experienced seniors, we also have a lot of young talent as well,” Wells said.
This year, Grand will compete in the newly realigned 2A South region along with Beaver, Enterprise, North Sevier, Parowan, San Juan, and South Sevier.
Fans and members of the community will get their first look at this year’s Red Devil squad at the Red and White scrimmage game, which has been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.
The Red Devils will start their regular season schedule the following Friday, Aug. 23, with a non-region home game against Carbon, a 3A school. Grand will play Emery, another 3A school, the following week, on Aug. 30, also at Moab.
Grand’s first region contest will be Sept. 6, against North Sevier, which will be the Red Devils’ homecoming game.
After those first three home contests, Grand will face South Sevier on the road on Sept. 13, followed by a trip to Beaver on Sept. 20. The Red Devils then play Enterprise at Moab on Sept. 27, followed by an away game at Summit Academy in Bluffdale on Oct. 4. Grand’s last regular season home game will be Oct. 11, against Parowan, which will be followed by the season finale against San Juan at Blanding on Oct. 17. All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. with the exception of the Summit Academy game, which has a 4 p.m. starting time.