2017 was a season of growth for Green Canyon football. It might have looked rough – and at times, it certainly was – but it’s about to pay off.
That’s what Coach Craig Anhder and his team are planning on.
After going 3-7 in their first ever season, the Wolves are planning on capitalizing on a wealth of returning experience in 2018. Green Canyon brings back 16 returning starters from last season, in which the Wolves finished fifth in Region 12. With what looks to be a competitive and fairly-balanced region this year, Green Canyon has embraced their role as an underdog. It hasn’t taken them long to produce results on this front, either.
In the opening week of the 2018 season, the Wolves took to the road to beat perennial 5A powerhouse Pine View on a late go-ahead touchdown, 45-38.
“We definitely think that we’re underdogs,” Anhder said. “It was the game of two number fives playing each other – they were picked as the number five team in the state, and we were picked as the number five team in our region. We are underdogs, and we understand that. We’ve got a lot to prove.”
The win over the Panthers was the perfect appetizer for what could be a nice main course in 2018 – a winning season followed by a deep playoff run.
To pull this goal off, Green Canyon will have to rely on a few of their returning talents from last year. Amongst these experienced players is running back Brett Gasaway. The ball-carrier punched in the winning touchdown against Pine View, and he will continue to shoulder the bulk of touches within Green Canyon’s rushing attack. In 2017, Gasaway had a team-high 693 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
“The thing that I like most about Brett is his toughness,” Anhder said. “He’s a hard-nosed kid. He loves contact and he loves being physical. I expect a lot of that this year. We’re trying to convince him not to run people over; we want him to try and make them miss sometimes.”
A big part of Gasaway’s success in 2018 will be the guys up front opening up holes. All five of last year’s starters on the offensive line are back for Green Canyon. Bryson Taylor is moving from tackle to center, while Jack Radford will play left tackle. Blaise Christensen will man the left guard spot, and Danny Rollin will play right guard while Bryce Christensen will play right tackle. They will all look to provide Gasaway and his backfield mates with wide running lanes.
Under center will be Joe Dygert, in his second year at the helm of Anhder’s offense. Last year, as a sophomore, Dygert threw for just under 1,600 yards. He completed just under 50 percent of his passes (finishing 98 of 197) and is hoping to improve on his accuracy in 2018. One area in which Dygert has already seen gains is physically; the 6-foot-2-inch signal caller has had a strong offseason in the weight room, and has added some strength and explosiveness to his game.
“He really wants to get better,” Anhder said when asked about Dygert’s offseason. “He’s really worked hard in the weight room and gotten a lot stronger. One of his weaknesses last year was his ability to run the ball, and he’s improved upon that greatly.”
Dygert’s favorite target in 2017, and GCHS’s biggest weapon, has graduated. After a record-setting senior season, the Wolves will be without the services of Chad Yorgason. Green Canyon will need other pass-catchers to step up in 2018, and among them is Chad Yorgason’s younger brother, McKay. While the Wolves’ return a lot of experience in the ground facet of their offense, their air raid is a little less seasoned. Returning starter Kasen Holbrook will team up with McKay Yorgason, Jake Lundin, and McKay O’Reilly in Anhder’s usually pass-happy offense.
Austin “Slim” Monson will be a special weapon for Dygert from the tight end position. Monson will likely use his 6-foot-6-inch frame to his advantage in the red zone.
Defensively, the Wolves return eight starters. Amongst them is 2017’s leading tackler, Nate Corry. After manning the linebacker spot for the Wolves last year and piling up 77 stops, Corry is being asked to shift into the defensive secondary as a safety. Corry will rely on his supreme athleticism to pull this off, and he plans on still racking up tackles and distributing punishing hits.
Carter Maughan, another multidimensional athlete and returning starter, will join Corry at the other safety spot.
Cole Wright, a returning starter, and Gage Norton will start at the cornerback spots to round out the secondary. Up front, Jacob Regan, Kasen Krebs, Trave Jensen, Kaleb Balls, Luke Harrison, and Spencer Hola will bolster the defensive line.
Caden Peterson will start at middle linebacker again this season, once he returns from an injury. Peterson is expected to sit out the next game or two. Kiyan Marshall is moving over from cornerback to outside linebacker, and Tristen Reese rounds out the other linebacker spot.
In addition, the Wolves have a special talent when it comes to special teams. Ethan DeLisle will continue to handle the punting and kicking responsibilities. DeLisle is ranked as one of the top five punters in the nation at his age.
Coach Anhder and his boys know that they’re in a unique position. They’ve got the talent to fly under the radar and make some noise, but it won’t come easy.
“We are really big into earning what we get. In this life, I think that a lot of people expect things. We don’t do that. We have to earn everything that we get and not take anything for granted.”