A New Era Begins

The year of change has impacted everyone, especially the football team

JDCHS+football+lines+up+against+Summit+Academy+as+Junior+Tyler+Easter+prepares+to+receive+the+ball.

Natalie Lamb

JDCHS football lines up against Summit Academy as Junior Tyler Easter prepares to receive the ball.

This season, Juan Diego has had a ton of changes in their football program, most notably a changing of head coaches. John Colosimo, a coach with an amazing reputation throughout the state of Utah decided to retire from coaching, leaving long-time coach Greg Williams in charge. They filled new staff positions, such as legendary Utah coach Ron McBride taking over the defensive line and Tana Vea taking over the offense. They also lost many seniors, many attending colleges to continue playing, such as Xavier Carlton and Kemari Bailey. Despite all of this, the team has been working extremely hard and has proven the doubters wrong. As Williams said, “I was very impressed by how our team showed up throughout the summer and put in the work, not knowing if we were even going to have a season or not. We had over a dozen players make 100% of our summer and fall workouts, which is unprecedented.” The team has a bright future in store with a young core, revived coaching staff, and a drive to win.

Junior Logan Huggard prepares to snap the ball against Summit Academy. (Natalie Lamb)

Juan Diego had an admittedly slow start to the season, going 0-3 but this was to be expected as the team had very tough games against teams from higher divisions. “We lost our first 3 games to larger schools by convincing scores, but our guys never gave up and kept working hard,” Williams said. Thankfully, they were able to adapt and then pull off some huge wins. “They were rewarded with victories in the next 3 games including a big win over a 3-1 6A Copper Hills, and a region win at South Summit where we led 51-7 at the half. We then lost our next 2 games, before beating long time rival Grantsville last Friday. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but our players have stayed focused and keep working hard,” Williams continued. This makes them 4-5 at the time of writing, but they have a chance to go 5-5 with a win against Providence Hall.

We could be a very dangerous team come playoff time…I truly believe this team’s finest performances are ahead of us.”

— Greg Williams

Injuries unfortunately also played a big part in Juan Diego’s season. “The injuries have impacted us greatly this year,” Junior QB Diego Valdez stated. “We had a lot of concussions and shoulder injuries such as myself and Maoake Tahiori which put us out for a couple of weeks. This was especially hard because we don’t have as much depth as we usually do, so we need to stay healthy through the playoffs,” Valdez continued. These injuries are obviously bad, but there has been some good that has come from them. “Usually when there is an injury, we could have a veteran player in a spot. We had some kids who aren’t as experienced gain experience because of it,” Valdez finished. Despite the injuries, the young players have been able to step up and fill these positions without taking the level of the team down. This shows promise for the program in years to come.

JDCHS’ offense enters a huddle while being coached by Tana Vea. (Julia Cunningham)

A huge part of Juan Diego’s football team this year has been the offense. At the time of writing, they have scored at least 28 points in every game against teams in 3A. This is in part due to Tana Vea. He and the coaches changed the football practices up to make them more fun, but also more realistic. This way, the boys are engaged but will also have more of an idea of what to do come game time. “Instead of just running plays just to run plays, we make up situations and scenarios every time, like saying it’s 3&12 or trying to drive the field and score with only 2 minutes left,” Vea said. “We run 10 plays during drive, 10 plays during inside run, 10 plays during pass period, and 15 plays during team,” Vea continued. These realistic game scenarios help players to practice with more intent but also to stay more engaged. By switching up the plays, the boys think they are doing less work, but it is no different in reality. We always are trying to make the players think and give them things to think about instead of thinking how tired they are. We are basically tricking our kids into thinking they are doing less work when in reality they are doing more. “We always are trying to make the players think and give them things to think about instead of thinking how tired they are. We are basically tricking our kids into thinking they are doing less work when in reality they are doing more…now our schedule is well organized and we try not to do anything more than 15 minutes because kids get bored and the coaches too,” Vea finished.

Senior Noah Nahas returns the ball for JDCHS against Skyline. (Lily Edwards)

While Juan Diego had a rough start to the season, they should not be concerned. The future looks very bright with major changes within the program and the young core getting valuable minutes. They will attempt to improve their focus, which will come with maturity. “The biggest thing we need to work on is focusing and playing hard for the entire game. In every game but one, we have had short lapses where it seems the wheels fall off. Some of those lapses we survived. Some we didn’t. If we can clean them up and play full games, we could be a very dangerous team come playoff time…I truly believe this team’s finest performances are ahead of us.” Williams finished.