We are officially a go for high school football in 2023 as of last Friday (technically Thursday a la Lone Peak-Bingham).
Each week, we’ll take a look at some of the weekend’s most intriguing storylines. These are results that stood out among the rest.
Kalin Hall wins in his coaching debut
Until last Friday night, only one man had ever governed the sidelines for Maple Mountain football. Brad Burtenshaw had coached the Golden Eagles since the school opened in 2009.
Lucky for them, the only coaching change in the school’s football history started off the right way.
Led by Kalin Hall, the former BYU running back and father of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall, the Golden Eagles started out the new era with a 34-21 win over Payson.
The win comes as a welcome change after the team went 1-9 in Burtenshaw’s final year. Maple Mountain’s all-time record is 63-93 with just one region title.
“Our team has brought me a great deal of happiness and pride,” Hall said. “The team has faced challenges in the past few seasons. I have watched these young people grow and strengthen their confidence. Ultimately, when you’re doing performance-enhancing actions on a daily basis to be your best, you should be able to live with whatever results that come.”
All totaled, Hall and the other 19 new head coaches in the state split their opening weekend down the middle and went 10-10.
Maple Mountain is up against its crosstown rival Spanish Fork this Friday.
Isaac Wilson goes off in QB showdown
Utes fans’ biggest reprieve from the stress of uncertainty in Utah’s QB room may be a look into the future. Isaac Wilson has all the eyes on him this year in his senior season before he dons the red uniform, and his season-opening outing against Granger didn’t temper those high expectations at all.
Starring opposite Granger senior QB Carson Sue’sue, who is committed to BYU, Wilson lit up the Lancers to the tune of a career-high 469 yards and four touchdowns as Corner Canyon beat up the projected top team in 5A Region 4, 55-7.
By comparison, Sue’sue, who transferred to Granger from De La Salle in California this year, connected on just one TD pass of 30 yards and was otherwise held in check by the Chargers defense.
It’s been a long time since the name “Wilson” didn’t dominate headlines in Utah, and with Isaac around, it’s going to be a while longer.
Parker Snyder — a running back?
There is no quarterback in the state right now more primed to mark up the record books than San Juan QB Parker Snyder, who went off for 46 TDs in his junior year. Yet, while Snyder has spent most of his career looking like a mini Aaron Rodgers, he chose last Friday to put on his best Lamar Jackson impersonation.
The senior signal-caller singlehandedly tore up Layton Christian Academy in Week 1 as he scored seven TDs on the evening. While everyone already knew of his arm talent, Snyder instead scored five of those TDs with his legs. He totaled 441 yards of offense as he rushed for 117 yards on 15 carries while throwing for 324 yards on 16 of 25 passing with two TDs. The Broncos prevailed in an absolute barnburner in Layton, 66-43.
Broncos head coach Barkley Christiansen said he spends early mornings with Snyder and has spent so much time around the QB that his excellence is often taken for granted.
“His performance was another great one,” Christiansen said. “Sometimes I think we all start taking his greatness for granted. It almost just seemed like another night after watching him all last year and all summer at 7-on-7s and summer camp. It’s just what he does, and when you really sit back and reflect on it, you realize he really just did what he did.”
San Juan, meanwhile, now has 26 straight victories and is on the way to setting records in that regard as well. The Broncos take on Juan Diego this Friday.
Morgan goes down
San Juan was one of three teams who went undefeated last season and won state championships, thus preserving long winning streaks heading into 2023.
And then there were two.
Thanks to a solid showing from 4A contender Crimson Cliffs, the Morgan Trojans, fresh off a 2022 campaign in which they unequivocally dominated everyone in 3A, started off the 2023 season with a loss, and the streak faded away, ending at 13 wins.
Morgan looked as though it was primed to make it 14 early on, with its defense notching a safety before senior Tate Nelson caught a TD pass to make it 8-0 for the Trojans. It was all Mustangs from there as Crimson Cliffs scored the next 35 points unanswered, led by three TD passes from senior Steele Barben.
Morgan struggled to get past 200 yards of total offense as Crimson Cliffs ran up the score.
With the Trojans back to the bottom of the streak-counter, San Juan reigns in the category with 26 and counting while Lehi is at 20 straight. The new third place is Skyridge with eight straight victories.
North Summit breaks out the scoring
It’s becoming clearer as to why coaches in 1A were high on the previously maligned North Summit Braves this season.
After going 3-8 last season, the Braves started off 2023 with a win over South Sevier, and for a team that previously averaged just over 15 points per game, the most notable characteristic of the Braves was their ability to cross the goal line. They won the game, 40-14, the first time in two years that North Summit has hit the 40-point mark.
It was a telling signal to other teams in the classification that North Summit is back to playing Jerre Holmes’ brand of football. Holmes won back-to-back state titles in 2A with the Braves in 2007 and 2008 before relinquishing the post to be the superintendent of the district. Two seasons ago, he got the green light to take back the job.
North Summit only completed two passes the whole game, but the Braves scored on special teams, on defense and ran in four TDs on offense. Take out the special teams and defensive scoring, and North Summit still outdid its 2022 scoring average by roughly two scores.
“Our special teams were good for Game 1, our defense scored, and our offense executed well for our first outing,” Holmes said. “We still have work to do, but I like where we are right now.”