MORGAN — Usually, attrition in high school classes results in a big sophomore class, a smaller junior class and an even smaller senior class.
It’s felt everywhere, including sports.
Morgan High’s football team might be one of the lone exceptions.
The Trojans’ 45-strong junior class last year is now a senior class of around 30-35 kids, while the current junior class is somewhere between 20-25.
“There’s really no one that Alabama’s calling me about, or anyone like that, but we’ve just got good, hard-working kids that play for each other and play for the school, and it’s something pretty special,” head coach Kovi Christiansen said.
Growing up playing little league football, everyone could tell this class was big.
“We had two teams with about 20 kids on each team, and we’ve just been huge ever since,” defensive lineman Jamesen Burraston said.
Quarterback Carter Thackeray said at one point there were even three little league teams for their class.
Now they’re seniors in high school, hoping for one last run at a state title that’s eluded some very good Morgan teams in the past, including last year’s.
The Trojans went 8-3 after dominating the 3A North region, then committed five turnovers in a 23-15 loss to North Sanpete in the state semifinals.
Take it from Thackeray, the returning starting quarterback, on why things so suddenly ended after a promising season, and why this season may make Morgan more prepared in late October.
“We have a lot tougher (of a) region and I think that’s going to help so much because, I mean, last year I’d go out and I’d be throwing wide-open touchdown passes and I’d think, ‘Well that’s great and all,’ but then we get down there in the playoffs and all of a sudden we’ve got these defenses all over the place, and I wasn’t really expecting that and it was a lot tougher,” he said.
A mostly new region, and a tough one at that, is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Morgan.
Region 13 swapped out Union (5-6), Carbon (2-8) and Emery (1-9) with Summit Academy (10-2, defending 3A state champs), Summit Academy (11-1, two-time defending 2A champs) and perennial powerhouse Juan Diego (7-5).
Christiansen thinks the Trojans are well-equipped to handle it. They have as much depth as a 3A school could hope for and most of their starters from last year are back.
“If you even get tired at all you know that there’s a kid behind you who’s just as good,” Burraston said.
In late 2017, the Morgan County School District bonded for $49 million to fund a whole new wing of classrooms at Morgan High, along with a new middle school in Mountain Green.
What that’s resulted in is a picturesque, three-story building at Morgan High that not only is accommodating current growth in the district, but is built for future growth as well.
The only downside for the football team was the construction kept the Trojans out of the weight room this summer.
“I had a former player (Chans Porter) who has a Crossfit gym over here and so we’ve actually been working out with him. We’ve done it one year in the past,” Christiansen said.
Last season, Morgan was in 3A North with Grantsville, Judge Memorial, Emery, Carbon and Union. This year, the Trojans are in Region 13 with Summit Academy, South Summit, Juan Diego, Judge and Grantsville. Try picking a winner out of those six.
NICE TO MEET YOU: Morgan will meet Summit Academy for the first time this season.
RED ROCK RUMBLE: This season’s meeting with Grand is just the fourth regular-season meeting between the two schools since 1970 (Morgan is 5-0 against the Red Devils in all competitions).
EARLY LOCKDOWN: Morgan kept opponents scoreless in seven of 11 games last year.
2018 SEASON: 8-3, 5-0 in 3A North, lost to North Sanpete in the second round of the playoffs.
2019 OPPOSITION RECORD: 54-45 (.545), and this is including two teams that went winless last year. To say Morgan has a tough schedule is a big understatement. Maybe the Trojans’ toughest game: the season-opener at Grand County in Moab on Aug. 16, when the average high temperature is 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Carter Thackeray (QB), Jamesen Burraston (DL/OL), Jack Cameron (WR), Porter Giles (RB), Ethan Wheeler (LB), Connor Watkins (DL), Dexter Gilson (LB),
STRENGTHS: Overall depth.
WEAKNESSES: Lack of depth on offensive line.
RETURNING STARTERS: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)
BASE OFFENSE/DEFENSE: Spread/4-3
BY THE NUMBERS
5: Record for kickoff return touchdowns in a season, shared by Morgan’s Jordan Wamsley in 2009.
36-1: Morgan’s record against Ogden and Ben Lomond since 1970.
39: Seasons Morgan has had a winning overall record since 1970 (out of 49).
Aug. 16: at Grand County, 7 p.m.
Aug. 23: Ogden, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30: Ben Lomond, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Bear River, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: Summit Academy*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Judge Memorial*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Juan Diego*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at South Summit*, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Oct. 16: at Grantsville*, 7 p.m.
*Region 13 game