The Salt Lake Tribune recently published previews of some of the area's high school football teams. Here is its look at the Lehi Pioneers.
IN THE TRENCHES
There's only one way the Lehi Pioneers can go from here: up. The Pioneers are coming off a 1-9 season in which their only win was over Ben Lomond. Lehi was held to 20 points or less in seven of those losses and was shut out twice.
The Pioneers have not been a threat in region in recent years. Lehi went winless in 2006 and finished with a 1-8 record in 2005. The last time the Lehi program saw success was in 2004, when the team went 6-4 and went to the first round of the state playoffs.
The Pioneers want to put their past struggles behind them. And, the first sign that leads coaches and players to believe that the program is looking up is that Lehi has had more players come out for the team. In coach Derrick Peyton's second year, Lehi has fielded one of its bigger squads the school has seen in years.
"There are a lot more guys in and a lot of young guys in," Peyton said. "And we have seven returning starters."
The answer to this question still looms: Who will be Lehi's starting quarterback?
The Pioneers have two options in senior Jordan Smith and sophomore Kaden Jones. Both are unproven at the varsity level and both are similar athletes. Both are good on their feet and have great arms. What makes Smith stand out is that he is a senior and has a better grasp of the mental aspect of being a solid quarterback.
"The passing isn't exactly going to be the same as last year," Peyton said. "And Jordan got a head start in the spring."
But, Smith is capable of moving to receiver to create a more dynamic offense. In that case, the nod would go to the sophomore.
"Kaden, he's a film junkie, he'll do a lot of meetings and extra things to give himself a shot," Peyton said. "Right now, they're both even."
One thing is for sure. Smith will find himself onto the field.
"Jordan can help us in other ways," Peyton said of Smith, who will also play safety. "He will have a place."
Lehi will most likely be more of a passing team because they are small up front and don't have the luxury of just pounding the ball. But, of course like many other teams, the Pioneers will try to be balanced.
"On the surface, it looks like we're going to air it out," Kaden said. "But we want to control the game and we have kids with capabilities to strike."
Lehi will have a nice defensive line. Dylan Stadel will start at defensive end. J.J. Galindo and Glen Baker will line up opposite each other at tackle. Steven Luna, who will start at corner, had a breakout summer. He'll gamble at times but they're educated gambles. And he's not afraid to risk his body for the sake of a good play.
"He fights to get reps and sometimes, he makes a mistake but he gives up his body for a ball. They might get him on one play, but he might make up for it with an extremely good play the next time," Peyton said. "If he makes a mistake, he makes it 100 percent and you can't ask for anything more as a coach."
Cole Munger will play opposite of Luna and Lehi should have a deep core at linebacker.
Dylan Stadel started as a sophomore and is one of the guys who has the most experience. He's extremely athletic as he is an all-American wrestler. He's 254 pounds and 11 percent body fat. He's a big guy with good physicality and to top it off, he has good feet.
THE NEW GUY
If Kaden Jones wins out the battle at quarterback, he will be a guy to watch out for. Heading into the offseason, Jordan Smith had the obvious edge. But Jones worked himself into the system and quickly proved that though just a sophomore, he's capable of doing the job. The drawback with him is that he will make sophomore mistakes.
"Right now, he tries to force too many big plays. He's a competitor and wants to compete," Peyton said. "He's been burned a couple times, trying to throw across the middle or throw across his body, but he's learning."
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Pioneers have a little more experience coming back this year. This senior class, which has only seen Lehi win two games since attending the school, will be more determined than ever. Right now, it seems the team's strength lies in its defense. That will buy them some time as they figure out who will run the offense. Lehi will still be near the bottom of the region this year but expect them to win more games than they did last year (or more than the last three years combined for that matter.
Aug. 22 – WEST JORDAN. Aug. 29 – SPRINGVILLE. Sept. 5 – PROVO. Sept. 12 – KEARNS. Sept. 19 – at Ben Lomond. Sept. 26 – at Lone Peak*. Oct. 3 – AMERICAN FORK*. Oct. 10 – TIMPANOGOS*. Oct. 15 – at Spanish Fork*. Oct. 23 – PLEASANT GROVE*.
2007 results (1-9, 0-5)
Aug. 17 - WEST JORDAN 27-45. Aug. 24 - at Provo 19-26. Aug. 31 - at Tooele 26-32. Sept. 7 - BEN LOMOND 47-12. Sept. 14 - PINE VIEW 6-42. Sept. 21 - at Pleasant Grove* 16-45. Sept. 28 - LONE PEAK* 0-41. Oct. 5 - at American Fork* 0-43. Oct. 10 - at Timpanogos* 7-55. Oct. 18 - SPANISH FORK* 17-34.
* - Region 4 games. Home games in CAPS.
* - To access the school website, click here.
* - To read Wikipedia's info about the school, click here.