The Stansbury football team didn’t get to this point without talent.
Without top-end athletes like Silas Young, Tavita Gagnier and Conner McKay, and the guys doing the dirty work like Alix Taukeiaho, Dallon Brooks and Calvin “Jebus” Mead, the Stallions would be nowhere close to having a chance to advance to the state semifinals for the second consecutive season.
But all the talent in the world gets you absolutely nowhere if you don’t have the winning attitude to go along with it. And that’s exactly what Stansbury has — a belief that it can beat anyone it steps on the field with, regardless of any size or talent deficit the Stallions might face.
Most games, the Stallions will be the smaller team on the field. By traditional football standards, Stansbury’s offensive and defensive lines are undersized, particularly when compared to their counterparts from the St. George and Cache County schools. On paper, it looks like the Stallions should get pushed around all over the field. But what they lack in size, they make up for in sheer heart and will to win.
That’s why in just nine years, the Stallions have established themselves as a perennial postseason contender. Outside of their first two seasons, when they faced extremely difficult competition while trying to build their own program from scratch, the Stallions have been a playoff team every year — and it’s not like they’ve backed in, either. They’ve won the region championship in six of the seven years they’ve gone to the postseason, and have a 59-19 record in that stretch.
Friday’s Class 4A quarterfinal game against Ridgeline will be the latest tough test in a long line of them for the Stallions. A win, which won’t come easy against a talented Riverhawks squad, sends them to the state semifinals at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium for the second consecutive year.
Talent will certainly go a long way toward determining which team goes on and which team goes home. But it could ultimately come down to a simple question: who wants it more?
Stansbury and its Little-Engine-that-Could mentality is going to give the Riverhawks fits on Friday night — I assure you of that. The Stallions may be undersized, but they are feisty, and if they do go down, it won’t be without one heck of a fight.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He loves watching the intensity level get ratcheted up several notches once the playoffs start. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.