In what will likely be remembered as one of the best Grand County High School varsity football seasons in the past four decades, the Red Devils concluded their rollicking trip through the playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 4, falling 47-9 to South Summit at Weber State University in Ogden.
The No. 3 Red Devils came into the semi-final matchup with the No. 1 Wildcats after defeating Millard County, 35-17, in the quarterfinal round on Oct. 27. The Wildcats beat San Juan in the same round, 40-12, to advance.
Grand County Head Coach Dennis Wells, now in his 16th years as leader of the Red Devils, said the loss of three key players this season before the playoffs began — seniors Dakota Johnson, Josh Jones and Brayden Schultz — made a tremendous impact on his team’s chances at a win.
“I knew before the game started that we really didn’t have the personnel to stop their offense or overcome the defense,” Wells said. “They didn’t have any kind of magical defense, but if you look at what they were doing, minus [Johnson, Jones and Schultz] on our side, it was going to be very hard to take a victory against them. It was a very tough game.”
The injuries for the Red Devils didn’t stop against South Summit either; two Grand county players, Brayden Troutt and Jarett Reidhead, went out of the game early with what medical staff suspect are concussions, while Chris Thompson left the game just before halftime with a leg injury after a South Summit horse collar tackle.
Just prior to the halftime buzzer, the Red Devils got on the board with a field goal from Dante Wells to make it 28-3. Wells leads all other kickers in 2A with 63 points throughout the season and is tied among all kickers in the state with Alta’s Jett Solis for the No. 8 spot.
In the second half of the game, with South Summit leading 47-3, coach Wells said there were a whole lot of bad words and bad blood between the defensive unit of the Wildcats and the Red Devils’ offense — which eventually led to the ejection of Bryant Troutt after he responded to verbal taunting by the South Summit defensive line.
“I’ve never seen such unsportsmanlike conduct from a team that was that far ahead in a playoff game,” Wells said. “They were saying things like ‘You’re the worst quarterback in the world’ and things like that, so [Bryant] wasn’t having any of that and he yapped back, which got him ejected. We shouldn’t have done that, but it happened.”
Despite the vocal tirade between the teams, coach Wells praised the ability of the Wildcats throughout the season, saying “[South Summit] is the best team I’ve seen in 2A in my years of coaching. To show how good they are they beat Morgan, 56-7, and Morgan is playing in the 3A state championship.”
The sole touchdown of the game for Grand County came off a 5-yard shovel pass from Andrew Hansen to Kayden Robertson late in the fourth quarter.
Until Hansen replaced him, Bryant Troutt logged 14 carries for 31 yards rushing and was 1-9 passing for 11 yards. Junior Trent Elmore had 10 carries for 34 yards and junior Chris Thompson had three carries for 34 yards in the ground game. Dante Wells carried three times for the Red Devils gaining 6 yards and senior Nick Downard finished his season with four carries and 23 rushing with three receptions for 21 yards. Junior Corbin Arbon went 14 yards on five handoffs.
Hansen finished the game going 4-5 passing for 19 yards and the touchdown. He also recorded one carry for 15 yards.
On defense, Dante Wells was the Red Devil leader in tackles with eight stops and he forced a fumble after drilling a South Summit receiver in the first half. Junior safety Bailey Shelton snagged an interception off the Wildcats and senior Jared Smith caused three fumbles after hard hits against a variety of running backs.
With the 2017 season now in the rear-view mirror, coach Wells said his team is looking forward to being better next year, with many of his juniors and underclassmen expected to rise to the occasion in the fall of 2018.
“One thing we know for sure is that we’ll have the Troutt brothers back, and they will only be juniors at that point,” Wells said. “We also have guys like Jarett Reidhead and Trent Elmore who will provide a core of leadership, along with all our other returning seniors ... so I doubt we will miss a beat. We were ranked No. 10, I think coming into this season and, if we’re ranked high going into next season, I really don’t want that. I want to surprise a few people like we did this season.”