Note: Stansbury finished with an 8-4 overall record in 2019 and was second in Region 10 with a 6-1 record. It was RPI seed No. 6 in the 4A playoffs, and was eliminated by Dixie 42-14 in quarterfinals.
STANSBURY PARK — Things are looking good for the Stansbury Stallions heading into the second year of the Eric Alder regime.
A year ago, everything was new, whether it be the coaching staff, the offensive and defensive systems, how the team practiced, even the type of culture that was desired. You name it, it was new for the Stallions in 2019.
That is not the case anymore. Now, the Stallions are experienced, battled-tested and prepared to take a significant step forward.
“My expectation is fairly high for this group,” said Alder, “and I think that is what they want. They expect a lot from themselves. They are demanding a lot from each other.”
It is understandable. Stansbury went 8-4 last season and advanced as far as the quarterfinals of the 4A state playoffs. With a host of starters back, including quarterback Kru Huxford, the entire starting offensive line and key players across the defense, headlined by defensive end Daxton Brown, the Stallions have the potential to be great.
“A year in, we are further along,” Alder said. “Our culture is stronger. Our leadership is great. We have all five of our offensive linemen returning and our quarterback is back. I feel really good about our skill positions, the work that they’ve put in. I feel really good about the players coming in who have to replace key players from last year. We still have to go out and get the work done on the field, but we feel really good.”
Offensively, the Stallions want to be more versatile than last season, less reliant on single players and more balanced across the board, even with Huxford back to lead the way. Defensively, meanwhile, there is a hope to play faster and smarter, even as the team looks to replace what was a standout linebacker corps.
Stansbury will be tested immediately, with a game against the defending 4A state champion Sky View Bobcats to start the season, but the Stallions are ready and raring to go.
“We are physically and mentally ready,” said Alder.
Stansbury Stallions at a glance
Alder’s thoughts on how his players dealt with the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:
“To be honest with you, most of them would love to forget that it is a thing, that it is real. There is not a lot of fear amongst our kids. There is some fear and are some concerns among some of their family members that are legit. More than anything, though, they just want to play. Whatever it takes to play, they’ll do it. We do the temperature checks, they have done whatever restrictions and guidelines that we’ve had to put in place. They want to play. In the back of their minds there is that fear that things will be taken away again. That is a deep fear and concern for everyone.
“It has made us a little stronger, a little more grateful for what we have, humbled us in a way. We are ready to go. They were ecstatic (to come back in June). They were so excited and enthused to have structure, to have somewhere to be and somewhere to go. To have someone to count on to for them to be counted on.
“I’ve never had a summer where there is so much energy and enthusiasm. Kids show up a half an hour early for workouts because they are so eager to get out of the house and get going. The shutdown was really hard on those kids and really unhealthy for them. The eagerness and enthusiasm to get going is there. They’ve worked so hard the last nine weeks and we are pretty much back to where we were from a strength standpoint. We are physically and mentally ready to go.”
Stansbury offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Eric Alder
2019 offense: 35.6 ppg (fifth in 4A)
2019 offensive statistics
- Eight returning starters
- Spread offense
Returning offensive starters
- Daxton Brown (OT)
- Zack Hamilton (OG)
- Jacob Rich (C)
- Bryce Gordon (OG)
- Hayden Birch (OT)
- Kru Huxford (QB)
- Cayden Clark (WR)
- Pae Tia (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Brandon Funk (WR)
- Nathan Bushnell (RB)
- Koy McGee (WR)
Alder’s keys for offensive success in 2020:
“We need to start fast and start executing at a higher level, with the scheme not being new anymore. We can be more complex now. Last year we came into form around mid-season. This year we need to be at that level Week 1. We need to find some ways to spread the ball around and have multiple players make big plays. I want all six skills players on the field to be able to contribute and make plays so we don’t have to rely on one kid.”
Stansbury defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Alex Huxford
2019 defense: 24.3 ppg (ninth in 4A)
2019 defensive statistics
- Four returning starters
- 3-4 defense
Returning defensive starters
- Daxton Brown (DE)
- Pae Tia (LB)
- Kru Huxford (DB)
- Cayden Clark (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Matt Ingersoll (DE)
- Nathan Bushnell (S)
Alder’s keys for defensive success in 2020:
“We need to replace what was a really good linebacker corps last year. We lost an All-State linebacker, one of the leading tacklers in the state, and we had a slew of kids who could step in and play linebacker. Our linebacker position was very solid and all those kids graduated. We have to find out who is going to step up and fill the linebacker spot and figure how our linebackers fit into the defense. We have to find an identity there and find out who can really play.”
Deseret News outlook for 2020
Expect the Stallions to contend for the Region 10 title once again. With quarterback Kru Huxford back, as well as the entire starting offensive line, Stansbury’s offense should only improve, even after being one of the best in 4A in 2019. Defensively, the Stallions have some holes to fill, but a second year for everyone in the system should be a benefit on that front. Anything less than a second-place finish in region would be a disappointment, and the Stallions have their eye on both the region title and a deep playoff run.
Felt’s Facts for Stansbury
- All-time record: 78-44 (11 years)
- Region championships: 5 (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 co, 2017)
- Playoff appearances: 9
- All-time playoff record: 7-9
- State championships: 0
- State championship record: 0-0
- Most played rivalry: 11 meetings with Tooele dating back to 2009. Stansbury leads 8-3.
Last five seasons
- 2019 — 8-4 (6-1 in Region 10 — 4A quarterfinals)
- 2018 — 7-4 (4-1 in Region 11 — 4A quarterfinals)
- 2017 — 8-4 (5-0 in Region 11 — 4A semifinals)
- 2016 — 9-3 (6-1 in 3AA North — 3A semifinals)
- 2015 — 7-4 (3-3 in 3AA North — 3AA first round)
Stansbury coaching history
- 2019-current — Eric Alder (8-4)
- 2009-2018 — Clint Christiansen (70-40)
Stansbury All-State at-a-glance
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2019 — Andrew Hanson, MLB
- 2018 — Hunter Thomas, C
- 2017 — Alix Vaefaga-Taukeiaho, LB
- 2017 — Dallon Brooks, DT
- 2017 — Silas Young, FB
- 2016 — Matt McIntyre, FB
- 2016 — Dylan Mott, OG
- 2015 — McCoy Didericksen, RB
- 2015 — Brennan Calder, DL
- 2014 — Landon Stice, RB
- 2014 — Jacob Petersen, OL
- 2014 — Gage Manzione, LB
- 2013 — Alex Mackay, RB
- 2012 — Colton May, LB
- 2012 — Chase Christiansen, QB
- 2011 — Jeremy Cafe, DL