ST. GEORGE — It’s been a rough off-season for the Snow Canyon athletic department, with the loss of rising star K.J. Harrison to a drowning accident and the serious knee injury to elite athlete Chandler Gines.
But, like in life, time does not wait for the Warriors to heal. Snow Canyon’s football program spent a lot of the summer in the weight room, getting stronger and coming to grips with some of life’s unfortunate twists and turns.
“Spending time in the weight room is so important for many reasons,” Snow Canyon coach Jay Graft said. “It is really good for these boys athletically, but it is also huge in that you become closer, like brothers. The weight room is where you learn to become a team.”
The Warriors didn’t spend a lot of time at college camps this year, skipping the 7-on-7 competitions offered by BYU and Utah.
“We went to the Dixie State 7-on-7 and had our own camp,” Graft said. “With times still being tough, I just couldn’t justify us spending all that money to go up (to BYU or Utah).”
Snow Canyon’s biggest hole to fill from a year ago will be the quarterback spot. Brayden Linde has been a mainstay, along with Austin Larson, in the backfield. Graft said senior Mason Smith and sophomore Jake Frei are the two leading candidates to call the signals for the Warriors.
Snow Canyon will return all of its running backs, led by power runner Taylor Johanson and speedy Mitch Phillips.
The Warriors return only coach’s son Jace Graft at wide receiver, but Coach Graft said he is already seeing good things from Gabe Jensen, Clint Gage and tight end Kallan Webster. All those receivers have big shoes to fill with the graduation of Coop Robinson and Connor Livingston.
SC’s defense will have many returning players. Cornerback Shannon Esplin broke his arm this summer and will be in a soft cast the first few weeks of the season.
The Warriors also feature a top-notch rugby program and many of the football players also play rugby.
“I think it’s good for them,” Graft said. “My only worry is that they might get hurt.”
Snow Canyon continues conditioning and starts in full pads Aug. 4. The season begins for the Warriors Aug. 17 at San Juan in Moab.
Snow Canyon Football
Fri., Aug. 17 – at San Juan
Fri., Aug. 24 – Shadow Ridge, Nev.
Fri., Aug. 31 – at Park City
Fri., Sept. 7 – North Sanpete
Fri., Sept. 14 – Canyon View
Fri., Sept. 21 – Hurricane
Fri., Sept. 28 – at Cedar
Fri., Oct. 5 – at Desert Hills
Fri., Oct. 12 – Dixie
Thu., Oct. 18 – at Pine View
Copyright 2012 St. George News.