JACE SWEETEN | Crimson Cliffs – Washington, UT
Fabulous Freddy's Spotlight Player (written before week one)
BY KERIC SEEGMILLER, ESPN 97.7
The Crimson Cliffs Mustangs had a lot of unknowns going into the 2022 season after graduating nearly 20 players from the 2021 team. And not just players, but major contributors. The team was loaded with talent, something head coach Wayne Alofipo mentioned early and often. But could the coaching staff get those players, whose varsity experience was all very minimal, quickly up speed? Could they help those players grow their football IQ enough to accomplish the lofty goals set for the season? The answer was a resounding yes, as the Mustangs allowed just 24 points in their first three games vs. 4A competition, cruising a 3-1 record during that time. Players stepped up on the defensive line. New linebackers made huge plays. But it was a safety who really turned heads and caught everyone’s attention.
Jace Sweeten recorded a statistic in just three games as a sophomore in 2021. In 2022, he racked up 26 tackles (15 solo stops) and snagged three interceptions in the three Mustang wins mentioned above. Sweeten made plays at crucial moments in those games, including a pick against Green Canyon that saw him track the pass from his spot in the middle of the field to make a leaping snag in the corner of the end zone to prevent a touchdown. He also snared the game-sealing interception to give the Mustangs a massive regular-season win over Desert Hills. In short, Sweeten and the Crimson defense wasted no time answering the questions about whether they could get up to speed quickly enough.
Sweeten continued to lurk and prowl in the Mustang secondary, and when the dust settled on the 2022 campaign, he had earned First-Team All-State and All-Region honors, finishing with 65 total tackles, 32 solo tackles, and a 4A-best five interceptions. Sweeten recorded five or more tackles five times during the year and tallied 10 tackles in wins over Spanish Fork and Desert Hills.
And here’s the scary part for Region 9 offenses heading into 2023. Jace Sweeten will be even more of a menace on defense in 2023. Opposing coaches and offenses will know he’s lined up on the other side and will look to draw plays and passes away from him. He’ll also be stronger, physically and mentally, with a year of varsity experience under his belt. There’s a reason he’s received multiple offers already to play at the next level, including at hometown Division 1 school Utah Tech.
As a team, the Mustangs return 11 players on defense who were voted as All-Region players in 2022. Led by senior veterans like Jace Sweeten, Crimson is primed and ready for another shot at the championship trophy that was oh-so-close last year. So, quarterbacks beware. No pass downfield is safe when it’s Sweeten and the Mustangs lined up on the other side.
“Jace is one of our most dynamic players. He burst onto the scene last year as a first-year starter at safety as a junior. Watching his growth as each week went on was incredible. I don't know if I've ever coached a young man who made such huge strides so fast. Jace has really shown he has the cerebral part of the game down. Being able to pair his freakish athleticism with a high IQ makes for a special player and that's exactly what Jace is.
Jace is a D1 level player. We are super excited to see what level he takes it to this year. We are lucky to have him calling all our coverages and checks on the defensive side. He's one of those kids you have to appreciate coaching while you have him because it's such a luxury to have that extension of me out on the field. With his 6'3 long frame and ability to cover so much ground with his ranginess, Jace will have the opportunity to play multiple positions at the next level. We are grateful to have Jace Sweeten be a Crimson Mustang!” -Head Coach Wayne Alofipo
LISTEN TO THE MUSTANGS on 890 KDXU this Friday when they take on the Bingham Miners!