ROY — Plenty of high school football players in Northern Utah were poised for big seasons — Roy running back Izzy Gordon, the Davis trio of Chance Trujillo, Spencer Ferguson and David Spjut, and Weber’s Cannon DeVries, for starters.
Parker Kingston was maybe half poised for a big season. Roy High’s coaching staff knew Kingston, a quarterback turned wide receiver turned quarterback again, was athletic enough to run the read-option offense to big success with Gordon in the backfield, which they have.
What was unexpected is Kingston’s passing fluency the season after being Roy’s second leading receiver in 2019.
Kingston, the backup QB last year, became the starter this year after Jaxson Dart transferred to Corner Canyon
Kingston had played quarterback “my entire life” and figured he’d play QB at Roy after Dart graduated, it just happened a year earlier than anyone thought. So there was plenty to work on.
“A lot of my footwork, moving in the pocket and then throwing. The first time I was throwing it was not good, it was like I’d never played quarterback before,” he said.
Some extra practice with the team’s receivers eventually started to pay off as the season neared. Kingston said senior Cade Harris was very eager to work with him and get route timing perfected.
“We’d get just a bunch of our guys and go to an open high school field and we’d just go throw, get our timing down,” Kingston said.
Kingston figured he could throw the ball OK, he just didn’t think it would go this well. When the season started, he took off. The first play of Roy’s season was a 78-yard touchdown pass from Kingston to Harris.
Now through seven games, Kingston has thrown 10 touchdown passes with zero interceptions. He’s completed 65.6% of his passes for 1,135 yards and rushed for 666 yards on 8.9 yards per rush with 11 touchdowns.
The playbook is mostly the same, but the philosophy is different with the read-option. Instead of reading what the safeties are doing, the read-option mandates a quarterback read the defensive ends and linebackers more.
Offensive coordinator Luke Hobbs said Kingston is making the right reads before and during plays.
“He has total freedom to pull the ball and run, so he’s not — most of the time — trying to force balls into tight spots. He’s taking the easy stuff for a completion or he’s running it and that’s really fun as a coach to be like, hey, they just played really good defense, they just covered our guy and (Kingston) just gained 12 yards on a scramble,” Hobbs said.
Kingston and Gordon have been running the read-option to near-perfection in games.
Roy calls plays to Gordon enough times in a row where defenses collapse on Gordon and eventually Kingston pulls the ball and runs for daylight.
It’s how a game-icing touchdown at Fremont happened. It’s how he got big yardage against Davis and again last week against Northridge.
“They’re all keying on Izzy because he’s been running all over teams and they don’t care about me so I’m just going out the back end,” Kingston said.
To Gordon and the offensive line’s credit, he has 965 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while averaging nearly 20 rushes per game. Kingston averages almost 11 rushes per game, but he gets a ton of big plays.
Another pleasant surprise for Roy: the Royals are an unbeaten 7-0 heading into Friday’s game against Clearfield where they can clinch at least a share of the Region 1 title with a win.
All this for a team that had almost no experience coming back on defense, questions on the offensive line and questions at QB. Kingston’s answered them so far.
“I didn’t even know if we were going to be this far into the season to be honest, but our team, it’s everyone. Our line, they are balling out. Our receivers, our defense, it’s just a whole team effort that’s going into this,” Kingston said.
GAME OF THE WEEK: WEBER AT DAVIS
This one’s got second place in Region 1 on the line, plus keeping alive a shot at a shared region title.
It’s really hard to tell who has an edge, but something’s going to give. Davis (6-1, 4-1 Region 1) has the best offense in Region 1, averaging 42 points per game. Weber (5-1, 4-1) has the best defense, allowing 11.2 points per game.
The Warriors will have to stop the Darts’ explosive trio of quarterback Chance Trujillo, running back Spencer Ferguson and receiver David Spjut leading the way.
Davis will have to either figure out how to get past Weber’s defense or play well enough on defense to give itself some short fields.
Since both Spjut and Weber junior Cannon DeVries are dangerous on kick and punt returns, don’t expect any coaching staff to deliberately kick to either of them.
DeVries still leads the state with seven interceptions.
CEDAR VALLEY AT OGDEN
Ogden (5-2, 2-2 Region 10) won an appeal on Monday to have Logan Shobe reinstated after the state’s second-leading rusher was ejected in last week’s game at Uintah.
That increases the Tigers’ odds in what amounts to a fourth-place game in Region 10 against second-year school Cedar Valley (4-3, 3-1).
A win for Ogden would potentially provide a huge boost to its RPI ranking. Currently, the Tigers are 10th in 4A and if they can get to No. 8, they’d be in line for a first-round bye and a home playoff game.
PARK CITY AT BEN LOMOND
The gauntlet part of Ben Lomond’s (2-5, 0-4 Region 10) region schedule concludes with Park City.
It’s just the third Scots home game of the year and in the first two, they were quite competitive, beating Providence Hall 28-13 and losing to Cedar Valley 28-21.
Park City (5-2, 4-0) averages 499.2 yards of offense per game and its lowest single-game output is 434.
CLEARFIELD AT ROY
Roy (7-0, 5-0 Region 1) has won 10 region football championships, the last three of which came in even years: 2014, 2016 and 2018. Should the Royals beat Clearfield (2-5, 1-3), they’ll keep the even-year streak going.
Another 35 rushing yards would give Izzy Gordon consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
The Falcons, who’ve won two straight games, are on their first winning streak since 2017. The last time they beat Roy was 2009.
BONNEVILLE AT FARMINGTON
Bonneville (6-1, 3-0 Region 5) quarterback Kamen Best ranks first in Region 5, first in the 5A classification and fifth in the state in passing yards with 1,814 to go with 18 touchdown passes spread among seven receivers.
The Lakers’ pass rush has also been a force with 23 sacks this season.
Since wrapping up a brutal non-region schedule, Farmington (2-5, 1-1) has steadied out somewhat, or at least the scores of its games have. The Phoenix lost the region opener 15-14, won 15-13 the next week and lost 17-14 last week.
BOUNTIFUL AT FREMONT
It’s another edition of fortuitous rescheduling. Fremont (3-4) was supposed to play Layton this week and Bountiful (3-4) was supposed to play Viewmont, but both Layton and Viewmont are still quarantined.
The teams have met only once before. That was in the 1995 state semifinals, a 13-9 Fremont win.
Silverwolves quarterback Cannon Kofford, a junior, has thrown for 300 or more yards in his last three games to go with nine touchdowns against one interception.
Bountiful senior Brooks Fornelius has caught all five of the team’s touchdown passes and he also has five interceptions.
SYRACUSE AT NORTHRIDGE
Northridge has changed its offensive look to include more read-option instead of airing it out. The Knights (0-7, 0-5 Region 1) are still winless, but the offensive switch might end that losing streak soon.
They gained 403 yards of offense last week against Roy, with “running back” Bryce Hughes rushing for 205 yards and three scores along with passing for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Syracuse (1-6, 1-4) just came through the gauntlet of Region 1, so it will be interesting to see if the Titans are too badly bruised to get up for this one, or if they’ll fare well in a more winnable game.
WOODS CROSS AT BOX ELDER
Box Elder (3-4, 3-0 Region 5) has Region 5’s leading receiver, sophomore Braylon Majors, who has 545 yards and four touchdown catches, and the leading defensive lineman, Gavin Hansen, who has eight sacks to go with 10 tackles-for-loss.
The Bees lead the all-time series 8-7 with Woods Cross (0-7, 0-3).
BEAR RIVER AT MOUNTAIN CREST
Bear River (3-4, 0-3 Region 11) has lost the last five in the series to Mountain Crest, hasn’t beaten the Mustangs since 1996 and neither team has cracked 20 points in the last three meetings.
Kace Jones’ 922 rushing yards rank sixth in the state for Bear River.
MORGAN AT JUAN DIEGO
Morgan (2-2, 1-0 Region 13) returns from a bye week to face Juan Diego.
If the transitive property applies, it looks like Morgan has a good chance in this one. The Trojans worked Summit Academy 56-10 two weeks ago and that same Summit team beat JD 31-28.