High school football: Murray Spartans 2012 preview

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

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Note: Murray finished with an overall 1-9 record and a 0-5 record in Region 7 in 2011. It did not qualify for the 4A postseason.

MURRAY — There was nothing unusual about an obscure summer conditioning workout at Murray High school. It wasn’t a scrimmage or booster-sanctioned event. It was a normal practice as players and coaches went through the basic algorithms of football.

But that didn’t stop an elderly female Murray resident with no affiliation or ties to the current program from approaching first-year coach Mike Richmond at 7 in the morning. She simply wanted to thank him for the preparation he’s put it thus far and to inform the players that “Murray pride” is back.

“I think that Murray has a rich tradition in football and its struggled here for the last decade or so. The excitement stems from the community coming and thanking us for working hard,” Richmond said. “It’s been outstanding. We ended the season last year with maybe 65 players — plus or minus — in the program.

"We’re up to over 100 right now. We don’t have a magic formula. I think it’s just something new and the kids and the community are rallying around. It’s exciting to be a part of it. (Now) we got to go out and win some football games on Friday night.”

Victories have been few and far between at Murray after seven straight losing seasons. Last year, after an opening-week win, Murray dropped nine consecutive outings. Dating back to their last winning season in 2004 (6-4), the Spartans have limped to a 17-52 overall record and a 9-36 tally in region play. During that same time span, Murray has been outscored by 1,108 points.

The program is a work in progress, needing to completely restructure the foundation before actual construction can happen. Rather than trying to fix several things simultaneously, Richmond and his coaching staff are focused on conveying the elementary aspects of the game first.

“I think really it’s just trying to be crisp in what we’re trying to do,” Richmond said. “The challenge for our coaching staff is we have a lot of new coaches and a lot of new schemes. (We're) trying not to put too much on the guys to think about. (We're) trying to keep our packages simple and master the little things and build it from there. From a coach's standpoint it’s trying not to give them too much to digest.”

Murray is swarmed with underclassmen in 2012 with roughly half of the roster residing in the ninth- and 10th-grade classes. That being said, despite the youth and inexperience topped with the pains of the past decade, qualifying for the 4A playoffs is still the ultimate goal.

“Our expectation is to make postseason play,” Richmond explained. “We’ve got to take baby steps and set realistic goals for the team, so our sight is going to be making postseason play. I hate to put a number of wins we’re going to get out of the 10 games, so I think right now what we’re looking for is to play our way into the postseason. I absolutely think it’s accomplishable. We’re in a tough region but we really think that goal is realistic.”

Murray Spartans at a glance

Coach: Mike Richmond brings with him a pedigree of Utah football heading into his first season at Murray. He was a four-year letterman at quarterback for the University of Utah from 1988-91.

Offense (4 returning starters; Multiple-set offense)

Murray will execute out of many different formations, varying typically from 2-back, single-back and empty-sets.