Trent Dickson churns off a few hard-earned yards on his way to a game-high 78 yards rushing. He also had a rushing touchdown and led the Bees in receiving with one reception for 13 yards and a touchdown. Mistakes were made: Bees work together to win game that looked like the first of the season
August 22, 2018 • Jeremy Jones • Staff Writer
In a game that looked, in many ways, like the first game of the season for both teams, the Box Elder High School football team overcame an early deficit and beat Layton, 28-14, in the season opener for both teams last Friday night in Brigham City. After the game, Bees’ head coach Robbie Gunter said he was proud of the fight his team showed in getting the win, while also acknowledging the team has some work ahead of them. “We made a lot of mistakes the whole game, but what I like is that our kids were playing together,” Gunter said. “So when we made those mistakes, we were doing it together and we were competing. They played hard, so that’s easy to work with and we can always build from that.” One of those early mistakes came after the Bees had an apparent stop on defense and had the Lancers in a pickle at 4th-and-19 on the Bees’ 25-yard line. Lancer quarterback Landon Brant came up with a big play, finding tight end Jonathan Hunt over the middle for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion attempt left the score at 6-0 after the first period. That touchdown for Brant proved to be his only highlight as he finished completing just 3-of-8 passes for 58 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Bees weren’t able to answer until late in the second quarter when they started to meet their goal of establishing their ground game. Five straight running plays were capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run by Trent Dickson to give the Bees the lead for good at 7-6. Dickson lead all rushers in the game with 78 yards on nine carries with the one score. He also led Box Elder receivers with one reception for 13 yards and a touchdown. Fellow running back, senior Bernard Pena was called on time and again to do the tough running up the middle and he finished with 66 yards on 16 attempts with a touchdown. The Bees’ first interception came just before halftime when Bridger Kaneko stepped in front of an errant pass to squash any chance the Lancers had to take the lead before the break. The Bees blew the game open in the third quarter, posting two touchdowns while also shutting out the Lancers on the other side of the ball. Box Elder’s defense was keyed by the play of linebacker Logan Holgate, who posted a team-high 9.5 tackles including the Bees’ only sack in the game. Sophomore quarterback Parker Buchanan recorded his first passing touchdown of the 2018 season when he found Dickson over the middle for a 13-yard score. Later in the quarter, Pena found pay dirt from seven yards out to push the lead to 21-6. The Bees recorded their second takeaway of the night when Pena snatched a pass from Brant and nearly scored before getting tripped up at the 15-yard line. Three plays later, Buchanan called his own number and dove in from a yard out to seal the game as the Bees went up 28-6. Buchanan finished the night completing 5-of-14 passes for 33 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball four times for 14 yards and another score. With the junior varsity squads finishing out the game for both teams, the Lancers found the end zone again late in the fourth as Tanner Clem plowed in from two yards out. Lancers’ backup quarterback Tyler Reid connected with Jake Marriott on the two-point conversion attempt to set the final score. This Friday, the Bees will try to reclaim the Golden Spike trophy against rival Bear River. Last week, the Bears were leading Juan Diego 14-7 in the third quarter when the game had to be suspended due to lightning in the area. With a weather delay or not, the Bears will be looking this week to prove that last season’s 19-0 win over the Bees was no fluke. Of the matchup this week, coach Gunter said, “We roll one game at a time. That’s what our preseason is all about. We’ve just got to get better each week, but [the Bears] are tough, hard-nosed kids and it will make our kids compete. That’s what we want.” The game against the Bears is scheduled to kick-off at Box Elder high school at 7 p.m.
Parker Buchanon delivers a pass while under pressure in last year’s Purple and White intra-squad scrimmage. The sophomore will be leading the Bees’ offense this year.
More experienced team eyes return to post-season
After a long, hot summer of tackling dummies, wind sprints, and conditioning drills, the Box Elder high school football team is ready and excited for their first game of this season on Friday when they host Layton. The Bees will be looking for fast start to their season with another statement win over a 6A school. When the Bees took on the Lancers in the season opener last year, they cruised to a 39-14 win behind a revamped passing attack that had the Lancers guessing from the start. Despite the early success, the Bees struggled with consistency for much of the season last year, falling to rival Bear River—ending a six-year win streak against the Bears—and then going 0-4 in region play to miss out on the playoffs for the first time in seven years. To improve in those areas this year, Bees’ head coach Robbie Gunter said the team will be looking to establish themselves physically early on in games and also look to get the running game going early on. “This year, we really want to establish a physical presence out there and I think we have the guys to do it,” Gunter said. “We have a lot of players back on the defensive side of the ball that will help us out, so we’re excited to get things started and see how we do.” The Bees will be returning four offensive linemen from last year, and three on defense, including Ryan Gunn and Tyson Madsen, who play line on both sides of the ball. One of the leaders on defense this season will be senior defensive back Skyler Laurenti, who recorded 51 tackles and came up with three interceptions last season. In all, the Bees are returning eight defensive starters, including linebacker Bernard Pena and safety Mike Davis, who were first and second on the team, respectively, in tackles made. After getting some playing time as a freshman last year, sophomore quarterback Parker Buchanon will get the nod as the main signal caller to start the season. Other key offensive players will be wide receiver Connor Stevenson, who led the Bees with 34 receptions for 715 yards (21.03 average per catch) and six touchdowns. Gunter will look to capitalize on the physical, hard-nosed play of linebacker Pena by putting him in the running back position. One key for the Bees will be limiting mistakes on the field, while trying to force their opponent into their own, and then capitalizing on the opportunity. Another point the team is stressing in the early going is finishing games strong as the team scored just 14 points in the fourth quarters of games they lost last season, but several of those losses were close enough that some late-game success could have made a difference. As tends to be the case early in the season, coach Gunter also said, “Our main focus right now is coming together as a team. We do have a lot of guys back that played for us last year and we’re working now to blend all of our talent together in the best ways possible.” In two preseason polls, the Bees’ are picked to finish fourth in the six-team Region 5, which would be good enough to return to the post-season. After starting last season as road warriors due to the construction done on the track around the field, the Bees will kick off this season with three home games starting against the Lancers on Friday. The team will then host Bear River in an effort to reclaim the Golden Spike trophy. The Bees will then look for some redemption against Mountain Crest and finish off the preseason on the road against Green Canyon. The Bees will then enter region play against familiar foes in Bountiful and Viewmont before tangling with the brand new high school in Farmington. The Bees then head to Roy and host Woods Cross to finish up region play and then will finish the season against Bonneville on Wednesday, Oct. 17. All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Last year’s 5A MVP, Annie Mecham, headlines a group that has tasted success and is hungry for another deep run into the state tournament.
Bees ready to face season with the biggest target of all on their backs
There is no bigger target in all of high school sports than that of defending state champion. The Box Elder High School volleyball team is well-aware of that status coming off a thrilling victory over Bountiful in last year’s state championship game, and they are excited for the challenge this season will bring. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with the girls and we’ll continue to have them,” said head coach Kristine Harding. “This is a new season with new beginnings. We cannot ride the coattails of last season’s success and we don’t want to. This group of girls wants to make their own mark and we’re excited to get it started.” One big positive step the Bees have already taken is getting back five key contributors from last season’s championship run. “We have five seniors coming back this year. Three of them have been multi-year starters and, honestly, this group has as much depth and maturity as any group I’ve coached,” Harding said. Last year’s Deseret News 5A MVP Annie Mecham headlines a group that has tasted success and is hungry for more with another deep run into the state tournament. In addition to those seniors, there are eight juniors on the team that are hungry for varsity minutes and a spot in the regular rotations. Over the summer, coach Harding said she was impressed by how in-shape the girls looked heading into tryouts. “We have a lot of three-sport athletes on our team and I could tell they’ve all been very active this summer. We haven’t had to do a lot of conditioning or things like that in practice because the girls came in physically ready to go.” With their bodies strong, the team has been working on their ball control, passing, and building even stronger chemistry as a team, points which Harding believes will set them apart from the rest once region play begins. “I think our team chemistry will be one of our strengths all season long, but we do have some girls in some different spots than they’ve been before, so we’re working to get that timing and teamwork down as early as possible in the year.” One question that remains for the team is how they’ll be able to prepare themselves mentally for each game, knowing they will get their opponent’s best shot. Another variable during region play will be how the team reacts to the different playing styles they’ll be faced with this season. “Bountiful and Viewmont both lost some big athletes so they are both going to have to play a little different style of volleyball than they have in years past. So I’m a little anxious to see how our girls react and handle the different styles they’ll face.” The Bees will start their season on Tuesday on the road against Brighton. The team will then be on the road again the next week to take on rival Bear River, followed by their home opener on Thursday, Aug. 30, against Skyline. The team will finish up their preseason schedule on Sept. 6 at home against Sky View before opening region play at home against Woods Cross. The Bees will also square off against familiar foes in Bountiful, Viewmont, and Roy, and will welcome the new addition of Farmington High School, which was completed over the summer and will be entering their first year of competition. All varsity matches are scheduled to start at 6 pm and, like last year, the team will not be charging admission to their home matches. “I hope our community knows what a great opportunity they have to see some amazing volleyball and amazing athletes right here in Brigham City,” Harding said. “You don’t have to go to Salt Lake or California to see some top-level volleyball. We have it right here.”
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