High school football: Herriman Mustangs 2012 preview

Published: Sunday, July 29 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Note: Herriman finished with an 8-4 overall record and a 2-3 record in Region 7 in 2011. It lost to Logan, 56-22, in the 4A first round.

HERRIMAN – Gaining respect and admiration usually takes time, especially in football. People, as humans, subconsciously want proof — a security, if you will — that initial success isn’t just a flash in the pan.

People want to know that a team isn’t going to fold, but rather is going to be there for the long haul.

Herriman, now in Year 3, has the unique opportunity to establish itself as a premier contender in the 4A classification in 2012. It's something that's very unusual for a “beginning” school.

“I think that there’s no question that our kids, our coaches and everyone in the program is looking for continual improvement,” Mustang coach Larry Wilson said. “Obviously, the next step is competing at the highest level in the state. There (are) a lot of teams that are good teams that never get over that hump. That next step — to be a leader, a great team — I think is the most difficult step to make. For us, that’s kind of what we’re focused on right now.

“To be a third-year school and to be talking about that already, I think speaks volumes for our coaching staff and the kids that we have,” Wilson added. “With that being said, that was always our goal from Day 1 — by Year 3 to be a legitimate contender.”

In 2011, Herriman took the state by storm — opening with a perfect 5-0 record. However, dominated by underclassmen, it crashed back to reality — finishing with a 3-4 record, including a 2-3 record in a weak region.

“(We) got to 5-0 and no matter how much that we spoke of not reading the press clippings, not listening to chatter from parents and community, I don’t think the players had anything to base that upon,” Wilson said.

In several games, Herriman failed to close teams out. Wilson specially noted a loss to Skyline, pointing out how the Eagles are an established program and knew how to win having.

This year, the Mustangs return 14 starters — eight of which are on the defensive side of the ball. Also, for the first time the Mustangs will primarily platoon.

“It should be huge,” Wilson said of the newfound depth. “In all athletics, especially in football, injuries play a key role. We feel very good about the nucleolus of players we have coming back (and) the supporting cast that goes along with them. We’ve got some really good younger players in the program — some maybe by year’s end are going to be ready to be significant varsity contributors.”

With all the stars seemingly aligning for a breakout season, expectations have never been higher.

“I’ve never looked at pressure. There’s an expectation to be successful. There’s an expectation to do your best — it’s what we do every day. It’s what we preach every day,” Wilson said. “So, it really doesn’t change. If we’re not striving for excellence, than we probably aren’t doing a really good job. So, that expectation of others is no greater than the expectation that we have ourselves — we don’t feel pressure at all.

"We feel very secure and solid in what we’re doing with this program. I think winning becomes a byproduct of all that. We don’t talk about winning. We talk about preparing to win.”

Herriman Mustangs at a glance

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