The team that would not be denied: Regis takes state 2A football title

January, 2017 Posted in School, Sports & Recreation

By James Dayregis-fb-16-2

Four games into the season the Regis High football team was 2-2. That was the bad news.

The good news was that the Rams were being tested by excellent competition, with the losses to Class 3A power Dayton and 2A challenger Stanfield. In both losses Regis was just yards away from victory.

“I think the guys were really upset about the first loss to Stanfield,” Rams Coach Kyle McGrath said. “They knew they could play better, but they needed to get better in their preparation and practice habits. That’s what we preach here, have a ‘growth mind-set’ instead of a ‘fixed mind-set.’ “

The plan worked. Regis rode an amazing defense and a sterling senior class to nine consecutive wins, including a 54-14 smashing of Stanfield in the Nov. 26 2A championship game in Hermiston.

“Going into the (title) game we knew we were the better team,” McGrath said. “We were confident, but no one thought we would control the game in the fashion we did.”

The Rams sprinted out to a 27-0 lead and never looked back. Quarterback Bryce Piete threw five touchdown passes to receiver Eric Gustin and the Regis defense forced five turnovers.

“Our defense played lights out all year,” McGrath said, heaping praise on Adam Barboza, his defensive coordinator. “He installed some new ways of playing the style of defense we play and the new wrinkles helped the kids stay focused.”

The Rams outscored its four playoff opponents 173-40 and Gustin, who played linebacker on defense, was named defensive player of the year in Class 2A. Gustin also was a first-team all-state choice on offense (29 catches for 573 yards and 12 TDs), as was junior running back Brandon Piete (1,251 yards and 17 TDs).

Lineman Tanner Williams was an all-state first-teamer on both offense and defense and quarterback Piete was second-team all-state after passing for 1,437 yards and 19 TDs, with just two interceptions.

Piete, Williams and Gustin were part of that standout senior class, which also included Charlie Gescher, Grant Minten, Adam Wiltsey, Lane Myers, Brendon Woodcock, Adair Pelayo, Ryan Boyd, Ethan Lulay, Julian Logan, Brycen Schumacher and Nathan Searles.

Because we are talking 2A football with small roster sizes many of the Rams played both ways, a factor that McGrath called “so important.”

“We came into the season with 29 guys and seven linemen,” he said. “It’s a testament to these seniors and how hard they worked. They knew they would have to live in the weight room to stay strong and stay healthy for a long season. We had 90 percent attendance in the weight room during the summer and 100 percent during the year.

“This team was dedicated to winning and being so close the last three years only added fuel to the fire.”

The Rams, who finished second in 2013 under coach Tom Beckett, now have eight football state titles, but this year’s was especially sweet because it was Regis’ first since 1987, long before any of those great seniors were born.

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