ST. GEORGE — Region 9 football players signed their national letters of intent Wednesday, taking the next step toward playing at the college level.

For a good many of them, though, their letters ended up being local and not national.

At Crimson Cliffs High School, five members of the 4A state championship-winning Mustangs committed to play college football next year and all five of them are staying in Utah.

Fleet-footed wide receiver Ty West committed to Brigham Young University and bruising defensive lineman Parker Andrus signed to play in Cedar City for Southern Utah University.

Three other Mustangs teammates — quarterback Steele Barben, offensive lineman Jacob Zarate and defensive back Jace Sweeten — all joined new Trailblazers head coach Lance Anderson’s first recruiting class at Utah Tech University.

(L to R) Parker Andrus, Ty West, Jace Sweeten, Jacob Zarate and Steele Barben all sign letters to play football in college, Washington, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

St. George News attended the signing ceremony at Crimson Cliffs on Wednesday. Mustangs head coach Wayne Alofipo spoke briefly and honored the future college stars.

“If you think about when they first started playing football, the thousands of hours over the many years that they’ve put into this,” Alofipo said. “To be able to get to this point there’s a lot of sacrifice, a lot of dedication and commitment that comes with that. I’m super proud for them and excited to watch their journey as they move on.”

West caught 10 passes in the 4A state title game against Green Canyon for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

“I loved their facilities at BYU,” West said. “I talked to the coaches, loved those guys. Most amazing people. Thought and prayed about it a lot and felt like it was the right decision.”

West was a track star at Crimson as well and the BYU coaches will have one of the fastest Mustangs ever to work with in Provo.

West said it’s humbling to be playing for the same team that produced NFL rookie sensation Puka Nacua just two years ago.

“Hopefully I can get to that level, get to the point that Puka did. I guess we’ll have to see,” West said, noting that the winning culture he helped establish at Crimson will help him in Provo. “I had some of the best coaches here, the best staff. I think they have prepared me really well for all this.”

Andrus was coach Alofipo’s keystone in the foundation of the Mustangs’ vaunted 3-4 defense. He told St. George News that an offseason camp in Cedar City before his senior year introduced him to Southern Utah and made him think of being a T-Bird.

“Just being able to hang out with the coaches, see what a lot of the culture is like,” Andrus said. “We got to see a lot of the guys when we went up there and I think for sure that was a big part in it.”

Andrus said he loves the rivalry between St. George and Cedar, noting that he’ll get the best of both worlds when he plays for SUU.

“Getting out of town a little bit but also being so close to home is gonna be great,” Andrus said.

Crimson Cliffs head football coach Wayne Alofipo speaks at a signing ceremony for the Mustangs, Washington, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Sweeten, the hard-hitting and ball-hawking safety for Crimson, has the speed and size to play linebacker so Utah Tech coaches will have a lot to work with.

“I chose to go to Utah Tech because first off the coaches are amazing,” Sweeten said. “So just the coaches really caring for me really helped with my decision. And it’s home.”

Like his fellow Mustangs, Sweeten said the experiences he had winning state in high school will help him at Utah Tech.

“I think the winning mentality, especially with all of my guys going there, having that winning mentality really helps build that culture,” he said.

Zarate, a big offensive lineman with much upside, said his decision to stay home was pretty easy.

“I chose UT because I want to play faster, and I want to play with my teammates. Just stay home and play for my hometown,” Zarate said. “Playing with your old teammates you’re going to have that chemistry already. We’re gonna do awesome.”

Quarterback Barben is a three-sport star at Crimson Cliffs but he was always clear that he wants to play football in college.

“I always wanted to. I’m excited. Going with these boys, it definitely is going to build some chemistry, we already have that bond from the brotherhood we had here at Crimson,” Barben said. “That will really help.”

Barben said he will serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before he goes to Utah Tech.

Included in the following photo gallery are pictures of various Region 9 athletes who signed letters of intent on Wednesday.  

Photo Gallery

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