High school football: Copper Hills Grizzlies 2012 preview

Published: Tuesday, July 31 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Scroll to bottom of story to see Copper Hills Felt's Facts

Note: Copper Hills finished with a 3-7 overall record and was last in Region 3 with an 0-5 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the playoffs.

WEST JORDAN — If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

That’s kind of what Copper Hills’ football team is doing in 2012.

In an effort to keep up with elite passing teams in Region 3 like Jordan, Cottonwood, Alta and West Jordan, the Grizzlies are ditching the veer offense in favor of the spread. Those four teams averaged 46.5 ppg against Copper Hills last year, and coach Kai Kapele knows his team needs a bit more offense to compete.

“Last year when they got good at stopping our veer option, we couldn’t throw the ball. So we looked at more of a balanced attack this year,” said Kapele.

Without a marquee running back returning this season, and with a couple decent quarterbacks ready for their opportunity at the varsity level, now is a great time to make the switch.

Christian Reese and Dustin Soter will share time at quarterback this year, and Soter can’t wait.

“It’s my favorite offense. You get to run back there, make some plays. It’s the offense I’ve always wanted to run. I think we’ll be successful,” said Soter. “It’s kind of hard transitioning from last year’s offense to this, but as the summer goes on we’re executing a lot better. So I think it’s going to be a big year for us.”

Kapele has no intention about naming either Reese or Soter the No. 1 guy. He’s going to let the season play out and let game situations determine who should be on the field. Both will play receiver, so whether they’re playing quarterback or not they’ll be making contributions.

Soter didn’t play any quarterback last year, but was the sophomore quarterback two years ago. Experience is an area Reese has a leg up. He started the last two games for Copper Hills last year completing 23-of-43 passes for 360 yards and one TD.

After Reese the entire offense is brand new. Every starting lineman, running back and receiver from a year ago graduated.

With almost no varsity experience returning and the Grizzlies implementing a new offense, the preseason will be very important if they have any chance at competing in Region 3.

“We’ve got to hope we get momentum with our preseason. We’re going to need a lot of help, but all we can do is play one game at a time. I know these kids have been working hard and we’re just trying to change their attitude,” said Kapele.

In the 17 years since Copper Hills opened, the football team has never had a winning record.

So much of that is attitude according to Kapele. The Grizzlies aren’t very big compared to a lot of the other 5A teams around the state, and Kapele said his players get intimated when they do line up against bigger players. He’s trying to convince them it’s not all about size — it’s about technique as well.

So much of the summer has been spent on getting the kids to buy into that message.

“The offensive and defensive line — they’re the foundation of any program. You can’t win without them and that’s been our focus, really working with them. We can’t execute any plays without them. We can’t make stops without them,” said Kapele.

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