ST. GEORGE — It wasn’t that long ago that Pine View was the big dog on the Region 9 porch. In fact, three years ago, the Panthers played for the state title and lost it on the last play of the season.
But last season was a step backward for Pine View. A 6-5 overall record (1-4 in the 3AA South) was tempered somewhat by a near upset of Dixie in the state quarterfinals. But that fifth place region finish was disappointing, no doubt, for PV backers. It’s safe to say Pine View is used to competing for a region and state title.
So the big question for 2016 is this: Can the Panthers get back to where they once were?
“We’ve had a great offseason and we’ve put a lot of time in in the weight room,” said PV defensive coordinator Brett Gifford. “We know that Region 9 is always tough and we’ll take it game by game. But overall, we’ve been proud of the effort that’s been put in and the role the seniors have had this year.”
Mentioning the seniors is important, especially since Pine View has very few of them. In fact, PV sports just 15 total on the team. So youth will be big on the 2016 version of the Panthers. And with the youth, you get enthusiasm … and inexperience. And nowhere will that be more evident than at the quarterback position.
“We have a senior named Jacob Brann, a junior named Nick English and another junior named Ryan Javines,” Gifford said. “It’s been a nice summer for us because we’ve had a lot of nice competition going on at the quarterback spot.”
As it looks right now, Javines has won the starting job for Friday’s opener at Judge Memorial, though English did play some meaningful minutes last year and Gifford said Brann also brings a lot to the table.
“Each one of them has strengths and we are confident in all three of them,” he said.
Kawika Santiago has earned the starting job at running back in the spread offense, while Christian Damon and Dillon Robertson wil play RB as well.
Lance Mandrigues, who started last season on fire before battling inconsistency and injury later in the year, will be counted on in the slot, along with Michael Moten. That’s a key position for Pine View, with guys like Ricky and Riley Dias, Conner Murdock, Bladen Hosner, Triston Duran and others excelling there over the years. Hudson Reed and Carson Clark will also be key receivers in the passing game.
Of note, whoever ends up being the man at quarterback for Pine View this year, he won’t have the luxury of throwing the ball to a sticky-fingered Bangerter. Brothers Steve and Jack have spent the last six years making Panther quarterbacks look good with their great catches. But sadly for PV, there are no more Bangerters immediately on the horizon.
Daniel Larsen will play at tight end and Pine View’s offensive line will also include returning starters Tyler Heaton, Zach Spendlove and Saxton Leavitt.
On defense, Gifford was excited to have Robertson move to linebacker and join Christian Reis at that position. Heaton anchors the D-line and Dylan Hendrickson is returning at cornerback.
So youthful inexperience may keep Pine View from winning it all in 2016, but it may also help the Panthers in a number of ways, including speed, enthusiasm and effort.
“We’re just going to go game by game and see what happens,” Heaton said.
Like many of the teams in the 3AA South, Pine View will spend much of the preseason on the road with trips to Judge, Manti and Cyprus in the first four weeks. The lone preseason home game is Aug. 26 vs. Uintah.
The Panthers open region play with a home game and chance at getting even for two losses last year to rival Dixie on Sept. 16.
2016 Pine View Panthers football schedule
Aug. 19 — at Judge Memorial, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 — UINTAH, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — at Manti, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — at Cyprus, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — DIXIE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.