On July 28, the Salt Lake Tribune published a preview of the Copper Hills High School football team. Here is what the Trib said.
IN THE TRENCHES
The Grizzlies didn't mess around, even if they were practicing in triple-digit heat. They looked like they were on some kind of mission. They looked serious and energized underneath their helmets, even in conditions that can leave people with heat stroke.
There was a reason for all this madness.
"We want to win them all," coach Art Erickson said.
These words express more of the attitude he wants his team to have than to actually achieve. The veteran coach knows it's not going to be an easy duty to knock down Region 3 giants who are also considered giants in the state - the likes of Riverton, Bingham and Hunter. But he's confident in his players and expect them to challenge every opponent, despite coming off a year in which the Grizzlies finished tied for last place in region.
"We expect to win," Erickson said, "like anybody else. I don't think our expectation is any different from other teams in the state."
In all, he will boast nine returning starters - in addition to a big group that believes it can contend.
Let's start off by saying that Erickson doesn't want to go into details about his players. He simply doesn't want to prematurely isolate his players when the Grizzlies are still holding tryouts.
They haven't even started playing in pads yet.
However, he did write down a list of players he suspects to contribute, but wouldn't say too much about them. These are the boys to keep an eye out for: quarterbacks Chandler Allen and Josh Soter, wide receiver John Gehrke, running back Brian Bell and linemen Chance Sprague and Taylor Targos.
Expect the Grizzlies to run a balanced attack, and improve on last year's poor offensive showings. They tied for last place in region and had a 197-100 scoring disadvantage.
The Grizzlies are going to depend on the linebackers, and they're names are Clint Jex and Bo Duckett. Others who are expected to contribute are defensive back Clint Facer, lineman Dakota Bowman and safety Tanner Hamblin.
This group will try to recover from last year's disappointing showing in which they gave up 197 points -- most in Region 3.
It's difficult to isolate one, since Erickson said it would be premature to highlight a player so early in the season. But I got the sense it comes down to two players: Chandler Allen and Josh Soter, who are competing for the quarterback position.
Soter - who was listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds last season - had an up-and-down year. He started a couple games, but was also injured for a few. He has the edge over Allen - who was listed 6-foot-3, 186 pounds last season - because of his experience, but Erickson said the player who doesn't get the quarterback position will likely start in another area.
THE NEW GUY
Asking a coach to name a player who might have a breakthrough season is tough, because, in a way, you're asking the coach to make an assumption. Therefore, Erickson didn't want to get caught up in this.
He said he couldn't think of anyone yet but to come back during the regular season and he'll have a better idea.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You want to see a team like this succeed, especially when you see how much effort and work they put into every practice. But it's difficult to think the Grizzlies can have a great year when they play in one of the state's toughest regions.
Since 2003, two state champions have come from Region 3.
"We certainly understand how challenging our region is, which is great, which is fine," said Erickson, who's in his fourth year. "We want to compete with the best and we have some of the best teams in the state in our region."
So, it was no surprise that the Grizzlies did better in non-region play than they did against region teams. They completed a 3-2 preseason, beating Payson, Hillcrest and Pleasant Grove in the process. And their two losses - coming against Box Elder and Taylorsville - were close, as they were edged 22-20 and 25-22, respectively.
But Erickson said his team still has a lot of time to improve and bounce back. All this week, he's working with the Grizzlies three hours a day, from 3-6 p.m., which is one of the hottest times of the day.
Aug. 22 – PAYSON. Aug. 29 – at Box Elder. Sept. 5 – HILLCREST. Sept. 12 – PLEASANT GROVE. Sept. 19 – at Taylorsville. Sept. 25 – at Riverton*. Oct. 3 – at Hunter*. Oct. 10 – at Kearns*. Oct. 15 – WEST JORDAN*. Oct. 23 – BINGHAM*.
2007 results (4-6, 1-4)
Aug. 17 - at Payson 21-19. Aug. 24 - BOX ELDER 20-22. Aug. 31 - at Hillcrest 34-19. Sept. 7 - at Pleasant Grove 13-7. Sept. 14 - TAYLORSVILLE 22-25. Sept. 21 - RIVERTON* 14-33. Sept. 28 - HUNTER* 30-26. Oct. 4 - KEARNS* 17-24. Oct. 12 - at West Jordan* 25-59. Oct. 19 - at Bingham* 14-55.
* - Region 3 games. Home games in CAPS.
Copper Hills links