JDCHS football coming back strongerSep 01, 2021 03:00PM ● By Catherine Garrett
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Second-year coach Greg Williams recognizes the depth issues he faces in his Juan Diego Catholic High School football program, so he and his players took those concerns to the weight room following the 2020 season. And what he saw from his seniors energized him for the season ahead after a 6-6 campaign a year ago.
“They are dedicated,” Williams said. “These seniors put a lot of work in the weight room this winter and spring. It has been a great off-season and I’m excited to see that translate on the field.”
The strength and conditioning program is directed by JDCHS defensive coordinator – and former Utah Blaze coach – Ron James, while former University of Utah coach Ron McBride works with the linemen twice a week.
Senior running back/linebacker Dallas Larson, who’s coming off a 1,500-yard season a year ago, also said his team has put in the work to “maximize our potential.”
“With a lot of returning starters, we have the experience we need on the field, we just needed to become stronger and quicker,” he said. “We went above and beyond to become the team we need to be. We are ready to have a great season.”
Williams expects other two-way players in wide receiver/defensive back Nic Ceballos, running back/linebacker Tyler Easter, linebacker/offensive lineman Michael Hulverson, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Trace Monson and offensive lineman/defensive end Nelson Arapa to again be key contributors to the Soaring Eagle’s play this season.
Three-year starter Diego Valdez returns to quarterback the offense as Williams’ “coach on the field.” Other returning starters for Juan Diego are Logan Huggard, Harevaa Hatitio, Maoake Tahirori and Bode Seim.
“We are coming back this season with a chip on our shoulders,” Larson said. “With our little varsity experience, we did not play up to the level we could have and now we are being looked over. We are striving to change that view of our team by going 1-0 every week until our season has come to a rest.”
In its first game Aug. 13, the Soaring Eagle squad defeated Skyline 52-30. Juan Diego was on its heels early as they gave up two quick scores – with Skyline failing on both point-after conversions – before a 50-yard touchdown run by Huggard and then a nine-yard TD pass from Valdez to Larson knotted up the game.
In the second quarter, the Eagles again jumped ahead with another TD, and JDCHS countered with a 28-yard TD reception by Colby Bryant to take a 21-18 lead at halftime.
A 33-yard field goal by Jeremy Ortega got the scoring started in the second half and Skyline continued the back-and-forth scoring before JD scored four of the game’s last five TDs and shut out the Eagles over the final quarter.
“I think our game was a huge step in the plan we have for the season,” Larson said. “We are a great team with plans of doing something special.”
Larson rushed 20 times for 104 yards and two TDs while also recording a nine-yard receiving TD. Valdez threw for 132 yards and two scores and, defensively, Hulverson led with nine tackles in the team’s first win of the season.
Against Logan Aug. 20, Juan Diego gave up four touchdowns in the second quarter as the Grizzlies pulled away in a 50-21 loss. The Soaring Eagles three scores were rushing TDs by Antonio Rossano, Larson and Kayson Larson.
Also on the 2021 squad are Victor Barragan Ochoa, Maui Brent, Avian Cabey, Carlos Calata, Jose Calderon Ortega, Hauragi Charles, Weston Eder, Zack Flores, Zavier Flores, Kole Fox, Andrew Garzella, Charlie Gleason, Jaxon Green, Giovanni Hernandez, Julian Hernandez, Jack Jones, Lukifanga Kaumatule, Dalan Kennedy, Kayson Larson, Angelo Lewis, Austin Lund, Charlie Morby, Brayden Ortega, Steffon Osterberg, William Petis, Nicholas Pinilla, John Richardson, Thomas Rock, Israel Rodriguez, Antonio Rossano, Christian Sanchez, Korben Schvanevelt, Victor Giovanni Silva, Arlinui Tahito, Jonah Taylor, Emmanuel Trujillo and Horoaril Vanaa.
“We are a great team with plans of doing something special,” Larson said. “We will go out there and prove ourselves week after week until we show that Juan Diego Catholic High School is a name you don’t want to see on your schedule. Each game is another chance to prove that.”
Juan Diego is also scheduled to play Taylorsville Aug. 27, Manti Sept. 3, Grand Sept. 10, Morgan Sept. 17, Union Sept. 24, Ogden Oct. 1, Ben Lomond Oct. 7 and Grantsville Oct. 13.
“There’s a different attitude surrounding the team this year,” Monson said. “I think everyone’s all in for a great season.”