Skip to main content

South Jordan Journal

In this new era of Bingham football, it is two senior captains who will lead the charge

Sep 08, 2022 01:53PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

It has been a busy offseason for the Bingham High football program, started by a sea of changes in the Miners’ football office over the past six months.

Not only is there a new head coach at Bingham, Eric Jones, who was the former defensive coordinator at Roy, there is also a new offensive coordinator/associate head coach who needs no introduction, for he’s the legendary Fred Fernandes — who Jones was able to bring over from his head coaching position at Roy.

It’s also a busy August for the Miners, who will play two of their first three games on the road: they travel to Weber to open the 2022 season on Friday, Aug. 12 and hit the road again on Aug. 19 for a trip to Bishop Manogue in Reno, Nevada.

Then the Miners will have their home opener at Ron Case Stadium Aug. 26 against Corner Canyon in a highly anticipated clash between two Class 6A powers. It will also be a showdown between four-star phenom junior quarterback Isaac Wilson of Corner Canyon and Bingham senior Dallen Martinez, two of the state’s most athletic and dynamic quarterbacks, and will likely yield a bucketload of points — so many you could probably fill up the Bingham Canyon Mine with all of the touchdowns this game is liable to have. [All three games will take place after press time, but we’ll have full recaps and reactions in the next South Jordan Journal.]

Perhaps the news that new Miners head coach Eric Jones is most excited about, however, is not that he has dozens of players returning to the Miners football program from last year — but that the confidence Martinez is showing this summer is already having a huge impact on how the senior quarterback and his teammates are approaching the 2022 season. 

“Dallen is a fierce competitor who raises his level of play when situations get more critical,” Jones said. “He's a tremendous athlete who brings a great swagger & toughness to our offense.”

That grit Jones described was evident last year in Martinez, who ran for 991 yards and 13 touchdowns — a trait which Fernandes is familiar with as well. Fernandes coached Parker Kingston last year at Roy, and the BYU signee ran for an eye-popping 1,129 yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing for a respectable 946 passing yards and 10 touchdowns,with only five interceptions.

There are many similarities between Kingston and Martinez, the biggest one being the ability to evade defenders and make big, explosive plays. Like the BYU signee, said Jones, Dallen's best weapons are his legs.

“He's a far better runner than passer,” said Jones of the senior Miners quarterback who currently has no Division 1 offers. “That said, he's still a capable passer and makes some good throws. I'd liken him to Lamar Jackson if I had to pick an NFL comparison.”

On the defensive side of the ball, which is what he specializes in teaching, Jones said he is really excited about senior defensive end Ben Latai, who has now been converted from linebacker where he’s played for most of his career.

Jones, who will serve a dual role as Bingham’s defensive coordinator this year, feels Latai, who had 33 tackles and three sacks last year, is the Miners’ best pass rushing option and so he wants Latai blowing up plays as often as possible this season.

“Playing on the D-Line allows for more opportunities to do that,” Jones said. “I’d feel pretty silly if I had my most disruptive player covering space instead of creating pressure in the backfield.”

Jones referred to Latai as “slippery,” because the senior end is difficult to block, is extremely disruptive in the backfield and can make plays that go beyond any scheme or coaching.

“He wins far more plays than he loses,” said Jones of Latai, who to this point has not been offered a scholarship by any Division 1 college football program.

“He’s not only a special talent but a great young man,” added Jones. “I’ve been very impressed by his work ethic, humility, maturity and natural talent.”

Working with and then converting athletic players into beasts is something that Jones is capable of doing as well. Last year, as Roy’s defensive coordinator, Jones helped guide Roy linebacker Ethan Ecker toward making a team-high 116 tackles  and earning a scholarship at Weber State.

“That type of special talent can't be taught or coached,” added Jones, who’s coached a few studs in his 10 years at Roy, calling all the defensive plays alongside his mentor and friend Fernandes.

The new Bingham head coach concluded by saying that these Miners, led by Martinez and Latai’s leadership skills, determination and grit might surprise a few schools as they collide into their opponents in this new era of Bingham football.

“I’m really excited to watch the impact they have on our team and against opponents this season.”