High school football: Snow Canyon showing it belongs with other top Region 9 teams

SAINT GEORGE — Snow Canyon High football team’s loss to Dixie High on Sept. 8 still stings, but not for the same reason it has recently.

Snow Canyon coach Mike Esplin still bristles when talking about his team’s 13-10 loss to the Flyers, a team that has risen to a No. 7 ranking that spans all classifications.

“I just think of a lot of plays that could have gone differently and we win that thing. We should have won it,” Esplin said. “We led throughout the entire game … and just that last field goal. We should have had it.”

The loss stands as Snow Canyon’s only one through five games. Two weeks ago the Warriors slugged out a 27-20 win over Pine View, with the team feeling enthused as legitimate contenders after a bye week.

It’s a position Snow Canyon’s squad hasn’t been in recently.

While other St. George programs, such as Dixie and Desert Hills, have made recent championship runs, the Warriors have been a bit of a forgotten program. It’s something Esplin has worked hard to change since he took over as head coach in 2016, and if the Warriors’ play early this season is any indication, they’re well on their way.

“Our kids are fighting against everyone we go up against, no matter how good people think we’re supposed to be or how good the team we’re playing is supposed to be,” Esplin said. “We have some really good leadership and kids that I think are now believing that we belong with the top programs. I definitely feel we’ve been playing like we belong.”

Esplin, having won championships when he played there, understands the potential of the Snow Canyon program, Since returning as head coach he’s worked to impart the same attitude when the program was playing some of its best football.

“We’ve really focused on leadership and encouraging guys to be leaders,” Esplin said. “We had all sorts of leadership meetings in the offseason to help our kids truly understand what it meant to be a leader. It’s paid off for us.”

Esplin states he inherited a program that didn’t have the winning attitude it had in years past. Fortunately, he found players who were equal to the task.

Some of the senior leaders Esplin mentioned are Jaydon Lacayo, Wyatt Parry, Zach Nowatzke, Austin Staheli and Spencer Snow.

“Those guys have really done a good job, but it’s not just the seniors,” Esplin said. “It’s all the…

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