High school football: Snow Canyon Warriors 2011 preview
NOTE: Snow Canyon finished with an 3-6 overall record in 2010 and a 3-3 record in the combined Region 9. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
ST. GEORGE — It's been five years since powerful running back Adam Timo burst onto the scene and led Snow Canyon to a 3A runner-up finish.
The Warriors haven't been back to the state playoffs since. In fact, they haven't had a winning record in past three years either.
Jay Graft, who's been at the helm the past two seasons, is doing everything he can to reverse the trend and get Snow Canyon back on the map as a contender in Southern Utah.
He said it's not easy these days when kids have so many different activities to choose from.
"I think it's all in attitude. Kids these days, there are so many things they can go do," said Graft. "Sometimes you don't get quite the focus and quite the commitment because they are doing other things. That's the biggest thing we've got to overcome is being committed to what we're doing and then committed to working hard and getting better at it."
With minimal returning starters, Snow Canyon will have its hands full in the very competitive Region 9.
"Our goal has just been to get better every week. Everybody has to grow up, that's the main thing. They've got to start maturing and acting like varsity players and not like sophomore players anymore," said Graft.
A year after mixed results using the spread offense, Snow Canyon is reverting back to an I-formation approach. Graft said he'll still sprinkle a little spread into the playbook, but he just doesn't' think he has the personnel to be successful with the spread this year.
The offensive switch will allow running backs like Taylor Johansen and Mitch Phillips to put a bigger stamp on games this year. Quarterback Brayden Linde won't be asked to do as much, either, because of the new offense.
Graft is optimistic that if things continue to come together and his players pick up the new offense, Snow Canyon has what it takes to get back to the playoffs.
Snow Canyon Warriors at a glance
Coach: This is Jay Graft's third year in his second stint as Snow Canyon's head coach. Last year he finished with a 3-6 record, and his overall head coaching record in six seasons is 30-29. He is a graduate of Woodridge High in Virginia.
(3 returning starters; I-back)
A year after averaging just 18.4 points per game, Snow Canyon is ditching the spread offense for a more traditional approach. Linde is a returning starter at quarterback and he'll have some familiar faces on the line with the return of Benjamin Gottfredson and Tavish Nelson. Connor Livingston, Cooper Robinson, Johansen and Phillips are all skill-position players who could make nice contributions.
(3 returning starters)
After starting last season 0-3, Snow Canyon's defense got better as the year wore on — a trend it hopes to continue this year. Curtis Bulloch and Trevor Nelson will anchor things defensively at linebacker, while Gottfredson will also start at defensive end. The Warriors should get a boost as well with the return of a healthy Dillon Cook. A concussion sidelined him for most of his sophomore season, but Graft said he's probably the best tackler on the team.
Coaches preseason Region 9 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 9 prediction: Sixth
Bottom line: The offense definitely needing tweaking, but Snow Canyon will likely struggle as a result early this season. How quickly it figures things out will determine whether or not it qualifies for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The playoff fate will likely come down to the final game of the season against Pine View.
Aug. 19 — OLYMPUS, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 — at Las Vegas, Nev., 8 p.m.
Sept. 2 — BYE
Sept. 9 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — DESERT HILLS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.