ESPN 97.7 is counting down to kickoff by featuring a player a day until August 11th!

We are featuring star players, underrated players, newcomers, linemen and special teamers.

This series is presented by Fabulous Freddy's, a proud sponsor of local high school sports!

Countdown to Kickoff Spotlight Player | Day 4
attachment-Makaio Swense graphic


It was only weeks ago we were discussing Makaio Swensen and the Snow Canyon Warriors efforts on the baseball diamond. Now, with football primed to kick off August 11th, Makaio’s attention and ours has shifted to the gridiron. Swensen adds to the previously discussed list of fantastic defenders, and more so, linebackers that make up Region 9. Snow Canyon is coming off a year where they only gave up 17.3 points a game, 2nd best in all of Utah 4A. When region play came around not only did the Warriors finish 5-1, they beefed up defensively by holding opponents to 15 points a game. Swensen was a major aspect of the Warriors dominant defense and as Snow Canyon looks forward to another year, his role and impact is only going to become more apparent.    

The dynamic dual sport athlete is coming off a junior season that saw him finish as a top three warrior defender in terms of tackles. Swensen would record 50 tackles per MaxPreps, half of which were entirely solo. Swensen demonstrated the ability time and time again to not only be in the right place, but the ability to finish the job by any means necessary making some impressive stops and providing some electric hits, even forcing a fumble. Makaio was also incredibly effective in pass coverage from his linebacker spot. According to MaxPreps season statistics, Swensen deflected 7 passes. This mark would put him 4th on the team for the season, and number one for players who were not members of the Snow Canyon secondary. To top it all off, Swensen also hauled in one interception against Arbor View, Nevada, and although the stats don’t show it officially our records indicate he pulled one off vs Dixie as well.   
Swensen was consistent throughout the year, but his most dominant performance came in a massive 42-20 win over Desert Hills. Makaio was all over the field with 9 tackles and a tackle for loss. 7 of Swensen’s 9 take downs were solo tying him for most solo tackles between both teams that night. He would also defense two passes during some key coverage moments in the win. The biggest moment is highlighted in the clip below as Swensen sheds a Thunder blocker and rips the ball out on the ensuing tackle. The awareness to target the ball resulted in a momentum altering, game shattering, Warrior return for a touchdown that halted Desert Hill’s comeback attempt. Swensen’s consistency was on full display for Snow Canyon in Weeks 5-9 and the first round of the playoffs where he would record at least 5 total tackles in every game except one in which he played limited minutes due to a blowout victory over Dixie.  

As shown above, Swensen finished the year playing some of his best football and should head into next year with plenty of momentum. Swensen is one of the few returning pieces to a top-notch defensive unit and linebacking core who lost multiple athletes via graduation. If he can continue to hone his skills and elevate those around him to play at the pace he showed last year, region 9 offenses will fail to get comfortable. The soon to be senior is primed for an excellent year at SCHS.  


Makaio is a great all-around athlete. In addition to football, he is a great baseball player as well. Football wise he has been a multi-faceted talent at LB. He has the size & toughness to play well in the box. Filling gaps & making tackles. He has good football sense to be in the right place at the right time. He also has the ability to drop into coverage & the speed to run with receivers in man coverage at LB or DB. We look forward this year to looking at his talent on the offensive side of the ball. He has solid height and can jump. He has good ball skills when the ball is in the air. We are excited to watch he & our whole Snow Canyon Warrior Football Teams potential turn into reality. Very excited to prepare & play football this season.” 

-Michael Esplin, Snow Canyon Head Coach  


Snow Canyon starts the season on the road as they travel up to Stansbury to battle the Stallions on Friday, August 11th 

Stay Tuned every day for a new featured Region 9 athlete as we draw nearer to kick off! 

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