JDCHS football building with new coachSep 03, 2022 12:49PM ● By Catherine Garrett
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
In graduating several players from last year’s squad that lost in the 3A state semis to eventual champion Grantsville—including four Division I college players—new Juan Diego Catholic High School football head coach Ron James said he’s been keeping things simple with just a handful of returning starters.
“We’re a little green so we’re really working on the basics and our building blocks where we’re getting guys in the right positions and getting them ready for the games,” he said. “Every year is different and it’s a clean slate. We’re looking forward to getting after it and fired up to get it going.”
James has been assisting with Juan Diego the past two seasons and now takes over in the head role, bringing more than 30 years of coaching football—including in the collegiate and professional ranks—to the field.
“I love the opportunity that coaching gives you to help affect the way kids are,” he said. “As the leader now, I make some more decisions and can put my own stamp on the program. I love the kids and this great school.”
The offseason weight training program was amped up a few years ago and that training was “intense” this summer in preparation for a typical slate of JDCHS preseason games against tough higher classification opponents. This season, that happens to be Skyline, Logan and Taylorsville.
“As is tradition here, we don’t shy away from anybody,” James said. “We are constantly looking to challenge ourselves and see where we stack up against tough teams. If we can improve week to week, we can go into region play hopefully playing our best football.”
This season, James will rely on his defense to set the tone with more experienced players returning. His team includes seniors Colby Bryant, Corbin Buckley, Carlos Calata, Kole Fox, Jaxon Green, Charles Hauragi, Giovani Hernandez, Julian Hernandez, Lukifanga Kaumatule, Dalan Kennedy, Hauroa Morgant, Jackson Meyers, Brayden Ortega, Steffon Osterberg, Arrinui Tahito, Jonah Taylor and Horoarii Vanaa; juniors Weston Eder, Andrew Garzella, Kayson Larsen, Angelo Lewis, Austin Lund, Porter Moore, Victor Ochoa, Victor Silva, Sharafeldin Wesaga and Chenkai Zhao; sophomores Dirajie Abaker, Alec Antonio, Antonio Archuleta, Sebastian Duarte, Ethan Fennell, Nik Gil Martin, Aiden Greenwood, Toby Hardin, Avie Hernandez, John Lewis, Adric Liljestrand, Peyton McCormick, Hayden Mezenen, Milo Muhlestein, Jeremiah Onwo, Dorian Otto, Roman Rosano, Daniel Sosa, Bryton Valdes and Theo Yatta; and freshmen Nick Carvelihio, Teagan Chaparro, Deng Deng, Braylon Fail, Deng Garang, Jeff Holmair, Franco Jefferies, Hunter Landers, Cruz Loklan, Tage McKinley, Mario Maestas, Teag McMahon, Seabstiam Ramirez and[LL1] Nick Richardson.
James is being assisted by Greg Williams (offensive coordinator), Danny Larson (special teams), Kevin Lopina (passing game), Ron McBride (defensive line), Caesar Rayford (defensive ends), Connor Dumont (linebackers/running backs), Steve Cox (wide receivers/defensive backs), John Morby (wide receivers/conditioning) and DJ Larson (offensive and defensive lines).
So far this season, Juan Diego lost to Skyline 55-7. The Soaring Eagle squad was down 28-0 before sophomore John Lewis got them on the board with a one-yard touchdown run—with Porter Moore adding the extra point—for the team’s only score of the game.
Against Logan Aug. 19, Juan Diego lost 39-14. Early in the second quarter, wide receiver Carlos Calata hauled in a 64-yard pass from quarterback Hayden Mezenen with Angelo Lewis running in a two-point conversion to go up on the Grizzlies 8-7. But, the defense gave up five straight touchdowns in the loss.
They are also scheduled to face Taylorsville, Manti and Layton Christian before region matchups with Morgan, Union, Ogden, Ben Lomond and Grantsville.
“Hopefully, by the end we’re a playoff team and show up like Juan Diego teams do,” James said.