High school football: Gunnison Bulldogs 2012 preview

Published: Monday, Aug. 6 2012 12:02 p.m. MDT

Ludvigson doubted whether Anderson could succeed at the varsity level, but he’s been pleasantly surprised throughout the summer.

“He’s really stepped up. He’s a kid I really didn’t expect to be QB. We have a sophomore that had better mechanics, but (Anderson) became a leader, rallying the kids. The kids were buying into him,” said Ludvigson.

With returning offensive line starters White and Matt Mecham blocking for him, not to mention the emergence of Ryker Pickett, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound junior offensive lineman, Anderson should have some time to find open receivers and improve upon Gunnison’s 45-percent completion percentage from a year ago.

With the offense and defense seemingly leap years ahead of where they were this time last year, Harris believes this is the year the program takes that next step.

“I think we’re starting to realize we can have a good program here and be a power house in 2A,” said Harris.

Gunnison Bulldogs at a glance

Coach: Yori Ludvigson is now entering his third year as head coach at Gunnison, where he’s guided the team to a 5-12 record the past two years. Ludvigson is a graduate of Manti High School.

Offense

(4 returning starters; Spread offense)

For the first time since Ludvigson’s been the coach at Gunnison, he has a deep coaching staff to go along with a deep team. Mike Grajek joins the team this year and will take over most of the play-calling duties. He’s been a head coach at Milford and Morgan in his career, as well as an assistant at Las Vegas and Virgin Valley in Nevada. He should help Taylor Anderson make great strides at QB. Anderson’s top target this year will be Colby Caldwell. A junior last year, he was second on the team with 322 receiving yards and six TDs. Lafe Christensen is another receiver who could have a solid year. At the end of the day, Gunnison only averaged 17 ppg last year, and that production will need to improve dramatically for the Bulldogs to be successful.

Defense

(4 returning starters)

Gunnison was certainly blown out from the opening whistle in several games last year, but it also collapsed on several others occasions. It blew a 14-0 halftime lead in losing to American Leadership 21-14, and against South Summit it led 16-14 at halftime but was promptly outscored 35-7 in the second half. The Bulldogs need to improve their fitness to try and finish out games in the fourth quarter. A big key will be in the trenches. The coaching staff is planning on rotating four players at defensive tackle — Mecham, Pickett, Dante Beck and Skyller Bentley. Keeping opposing offensive lineman from getting to the second level will be vital if the Bulldogs hope to improve their soft run defense from a year ago. Lafe Christensen will anchor the secondary. He had a great sophomore year, but missed all of last season after having surgery on both shoulders.

Coaches preseason 2A North straw poll: Fifth

Deseret News 2A North prediction: Sixth

Bottom line: From the players to the coaches, Gunnison has done everything in its power to become a successful football team. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they’re in a very tough region and must play against rivals who are just as talented but have much more tradition to go along with it. If coach Ludvigson’s team can fight through that mental barrier, it should be in the hunt for the playoff berth that eluded it last year.

2012 Schedule

Aug. 17 — at South Sevier, 7 p.m.

Aug. 24 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 — MANTI, 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 — at Millard, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 — at American Leadership, 7 p.m.

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