Since the program’s inception, the running game has been a staple of the Stansbury football team’s offense.
The Stallions’ stable of dangerous runners is as full as ever entering their 10th season of existence. That rushing attack, paired with what they hope will be a dominant defense, figures to have the Stallions in the fight for another Region 11 championship this year, as well as a third consecutive trip to the state semifinals.
Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen said Austin Woodhouse will be the Stallions’ starting quarterback at the onset of the 2018 season, which kicks off next Friday at Sky View, though Kru Huxford has also made an impression in camp.
The rushing attack will be led by senior Silas Young, who rushed for 1,416 yards and 21 touchdowns and averaged 6.9 yards per carry a year ago. He will be joined by Jet Richins, Pae Tia and Payton Didericksen, as well as Kaeden Kincaid, as part of a deep, athletic group in the backfield.
“We’re pretty fired up,” Young said. “We’ve had a good summer where we’ve all been active, especially our camp at Utah State, which went really good. We’re excited to get the season actually going.”
Brenden VanCooney and Jake Spaulding should give Woodhouse some quality targets in the passing game. He’ll be playing behind an experienced offensive line that has three starters returning in Hunter Thomas, Calvin “Jebus” Mead and Bowen Vorwaller. Kaden Shin, a transfer, started last year at Hurricane.
Mead and Richins will lead the Stallions’ front seven on defense. Mead, a defensive lineman, had 42 tackles in 2017, including seven tackles-for-loss, and also had three sacks and five quarterback hurries. Richins, a linebacker, had 28 tackles (two tackles-for-loss), one sack and one hurry. The Stallions will be one of the smaller teams on the field each week, but they won’t let being undersized get them down.
“This team’s got some scrappiness that even when we’re outsized in games, we’ll still be able to go out and compete,” Richins said. “We go into every game with something to prove. After the first few plays, they know that we’re here to play and they need to get ready for a tough game.”
The Stallions will have a difficult preseason schedule this year in hopes that it will prepare them well for the Region 11 season and Class 4A playoffs to follow. The opener on the road against Sky View pits them against one of Region 10’s best, and the following week’s home opener against Hurricane will bring in a traditionally strong program from southern Utah. The Stallions’ third game of the season, a Thursday-night matchup against Taylorsville, brings the challenge of Warriors dual-threat quarterback Dane Leituala, and the final game of the preseason against Mountain Crest is a rematch of last year’s Class 4A semifinal game — a matchup won by the Mustangs, 17-7.
Last year’s preseason schedule saw the Stallions go 1-3, but it also helped spark a seven-game winning streak that powered Stansbury to the Region 11 title and playoff wins over Cedar and Ridgeline.
“(Preseason) games are important,” Thomas said. “They set the tone for the rest of the year and help us improve.”