High school football: Cottonwood Colts 2012 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

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Note: Cottonwood finished with a 5-5 overall record and tied for second in Region 3 with a 3-2 record in 2011. It lost to Northridge, 49-35, in first round of the 5A playoffs.

MURRAY — Damage control has been Greg Croshaw’s primary focus since he was hired as Cottonwood’s football coach last month, and by all accounts it’s gone well.

Croshaw has retained almost all the assistant coaches that were in place before his arrival, and just as important the kids have been receptive to their new situation.

“I told them the first day I got here, 'I’m not going to come in and make you learn my terminology. I’ll do that. I just ask you to work hard and play hard and understand that things happen in life that you may not agree or feel right about … but that’s going to happen your whole life,'” said Croshaw.

Croshaw brings 25 years of college coaching experience to the program, having spent 24 years as head coach at Dixie State College from 1982-2005. Last season he was with Mesa Community College in Arizona.

“That kind of experience coming into this program, we couldn’t be more thankful for that,” said star QB Cooper Bateman.

Cottonwood returns nine offensive starters from a year ago, and Croshaw said disrupting an offense that Bateman knows so well wouldn’t be smart. Minor tweaks are inevitable with new offensive coordinator TD Crowshaw, but they’ll be minimal.

Greg Croshaw said he had no idea Bateman had verbally committed to Alabama when he accepted the job. When he found out, he said it was like expecting to receive a bike on Christmas morning but getting a Porsche instead.

In 10 games last year, Bateman threw for 2,484 yards and 25 touchdowns. Most of his offensive weapons from a year ago are back too. Wide receiver Inoke Lotulelei tallied 1,184 yards and 15 TDs last season, while running back Gabe Hosea racked up 1,399 yards and eight TDs.

Hosea had nearly 250 carries, and the coaching staff wants a similar run-pass ratio this year.

With Bateman at the helm and four of five starters on the offensive line returning, Croshaw isn’t worried about the offense. It’s the defense he’s concerned about.

Cottonwood had the fourth-worst scoring defense in 5A last year at 34 ppg. Only Copper Hills, Lehi and Weber gave up more points.

With only about 53 players expected to be on the team this year, Croshaw expects to platoon more kids to shore up that soft defense.

“You can’t take all the great players and put them on offense,” said Croshaw.

In Region 3, you can’t win if you can’t play defense. Jordan and Alta are expected to be the top dogs in Region 3 again this year, and they scored 49 and 48 points, respectively, against Cottonwood last year. Northridge had no problem scoring either in a 49-35 first-round win over the Colts.

Matt Martinez takes over as defensive coordinator for his alma mater after wrapping up his playing career at the University of Utah last fall.

“He’s full of energy and knowledge, and most of that has come from playing,” said Croshaw.

Cottonwood was a very young defense last year, but eight of those starters are returning, which should make a big difference.

With everything Cottonwood’s program — and particularly this senior class — has been through the past three years, Croshaw said this team will have an “us-vs.-the-world mentality.”