Prep football: Grantsville Cowboys preview

After Kody Byrd got the job as the Grantsville coach after serving as an assistant at Spanish Fork, he made the decision not to rehash the recent past at his new school.

And that extends to how the Cowboys finished in region or their playoff results.

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t looked too far into it,” Byrd said about the 2016 win-loss record.

But Byrd’s entrance isn’t because of a bad year on the field. After a 4-7 campaign that ended with a first-round one-point defeat to eventual finalist Delta, then-coach Curtis Ware suddenly departed the program as he faced criminal charges.

“There were some rough things that they went through as a team,” Byrd said. “As a coaching staff, we’ve just chosen to kind of move on and not dwell on what’s happened in the past.”

The Cowboys have back their statistical leaders in passing and tackling, so the cupboard is not bare.

“Oh, we’ll definitely compete, week in and week out,” Byrd said.

GRANTSVILLE COWBOYS <br>Coach • Kody Byrd, first year <br>Last season • 4-7, 3-2 in 3A North; Advanced to Class 3A quarterfinals <br>State championships • 1992, 1996, 1997 <br>Other state title game appearances • 1973, 1978, 1985, 1995, 2003 <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • Cyprus, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • Minico (Idaho), 5:30 p.m. <br>Aug. 31 • Stansbury, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • at Tooele, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • Morgan, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • at Union, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • at Carbon, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • Judge Memorial, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Emery, 7 p.m.

Behind center • The quarterback position is in play for Grantsville, although last year’s starter is back. Coy Johnson (6 foot, 160 pounds) threw for 912 yards to lead the team last season. But Byrd has a choice to make between Johnson and sophomore Jackson Sandberg (5-11, 145). The running backs in line to start are also on the raw side. The Cowboys will look to sophomore Parker Thomas (6-0, 180) and senior Gage Schmidt (5-6, 150) to carry the ball.

Ball hawks • A more veteran presence for Grantsville is in the wide receiving unit. Seniors A.J. Rainer (5-9, 140) and Brady Arbon (6-4, 210) lead the way. Another senior, Dylan Defa (5-11, 145), was hurt in the preseason, and Byrd is hoping he’ll make his return in midseason. Another wideout with possibilities of starting is sophomore Ammon Bartley (6-1, 180). Rainer also will start defensively at cornerback along with senior Braxton Hansen (5-9, 160).

In the trenches • Experience is lacking along the offensive line for the Cowboys, who will look to younger players like sophomore Gauge Pine (6-1, 185) at offensive tackle and junior Colten Gill (6-0, 170) at guard. Pine and Gill also will play on the defensive line, but Grantsville has more options on that side of the ball. Junior Isaac Riding has been playing well at defensive end, according to the coach, and sophomore Austin Gray (5-11, 240) also is in the mix.

Hit men • Inside linebacker is the place to go to find familiar faces on the Grantsville roster. Arbon led the team with 61 tackles in his junior year, and senior Connor Ware (5-11, 195) collected 45 stops. At outside linebacker, Bartley and Gauge Smith will be the candidates to start. Secondary tackling help will come from the likes of junior Ethan Merrill (6-1, 165) and Sandberg at safety positions.

Key returners • Brady Arbon, Sr. (WR); Connor Ware, Sr. (ILB); Coy Johnson, Sr. (QB); A.J.Rainer, Sr. (WR)

Key losses • Riley Smith, RB; Gavin Eyre, TE/DL; Burke Boman, OL/LB; Jonah Bartley, OL/DL

The next wave • Jackson Sandberg, Soph. (QB); Parker Thomas, Soph. (RB); Ammon Bartley, Soph. (WR); Austin Gray, Soph. (NG)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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