The Jackson Broncs prepare for another season of football, one destined to be marked by change. A team that went to a state championship game two years running now, and one that has gone a combined 33-13 since 2018, will be lucky to play .500 ball this season.
Gone is a great core chunk of graduated alums including three-time all-state quarterback Sadler Smith, a rushing attack that for the past five years has featured just two backs—Jeydon Cox and Brody Hasenack—and all the team’s receivers from 2021.
And that’s not all. Key pieces on both sides of the line of scrimmage also graduated out of the program and, if that’s not enough turnover, head coach David Joyce departed over the hill to Teton, taking with him the heir apparent topflight running back in Jack Joyce, and leaving another David with a program in the bowels of a rebuild year.
Welcome aboard, David White. Good luck!
“It’s probably one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made [coming here and taking this job],” White said in a pre-season interview with Jackson Hole Radio. Then let out a roar of laughter at himself. “You know, I like that challenge. I like the opportunity. I like the process of going through it. And being in Jackson Hole with the family doing what I love is just icing on the cake.”
White said he told the kids to embrace the challenge. Seniors who never got a chance to see much action because of the talent in front of them will now get a chance to show what they’re made of. Juniors and some underclassmen will get their opportunity to begin a new chapter of Broncs football.
“We’ve got some talent. We can put 11 on the field but we are not real deep,” White said. “But there are some players on this team that could have been starters on the team I just left. I’m just trying to push them with that confidence that they can do it, and so far, I’ve been impressed with what I see.”
Roster turnover creates opportunity
Replacing a signal caller like Smith is a tall order. The Broncs will try to do it with a combination of senior Owen Janssen (the better pure passer) and junior Sebastian Brunner (an option-type scrambler/playmaker).
The rushing chores will likely fall to senior Jack Jenkins who has some shiftiness and size at 5-11, 180 lbs. Junior Thomas May, who looked god returning kicks last season, is another option out of the backfield. When the Broncs go to a 2-back set, look for senior fullbacks Drew Griebel and Tayden Barnhart to also get some touches.
The receiving corps is anyone’s guess. Maybe juniors Ty Vanzanten, Graham Dalton, or Beckett Maher. Lukas Gralund could be slotted in as a tight end or the 6-foot sophomore Cooper Guild may make the varsity team. There is also a rumor 6’6’’ Andrew Hanna has been recruited from the basketball team.
Defensively, the Broncs will lean heavily on Lukas Gralund (6-3, 200 lbs), who looks to start at DE. The secondary will have one returning starter with senior Kaleb Lunde.
On the line of scrimmage is where Coach White says he will be hard-pressed to find the big bodies he could use.
“We are not big, I’ll say that,” White said. “But we can make it work with technique, conditioning, and what we run.”
Coach White will have precious little time to prepare for the Week 0 game with interstate rival Teton Timberwolves. Just 11 days after the Broncs were allowed to put on the pads and practice and it’s game time.
Throw in a wildcard subplot that includes facing the guy whose job you took, and this Friday’s opener against the Wolves in Driggs is sure to be an intense one.
“We’ll use all that for motivation. We’ll use it to put the first game jitters behind us and play on pure excitement and emotion,” White said. “I don’t have to have a big fancy speech for this one. The schedule has been pasted right there on our wall. The kids know who we play Friday. And they are excited about it.”