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Note: Richfield finished with a 6-5 overall record and was 5-2 in the 2A South division in 2011. It lost to Millard, 42-6, in the 2A quarterfinals.
The difference between the Richfield Wildcats heading into last year and this year can be summed up in a single word: experience.
Last year, they were gaining it. This year, they have it.
“(In 2011) we had one kid returning with varsity experience,” Richfield head coach Corey Morrison said. “This year, we have quite a few back, and we hope to start faster than we did last year.”
The Wildcats lost their first three games last season before finally recording a win. After the young team found its stride, Richfield won its final five regular-season games.
“It took us a few games to get going. We started a lot of sophomore and juniors, and now those kids have another year under their belts and come in as upperclassmen,” Morrison said. “The mistakes we made in the first few games last year we have learned from and can build on to start stronger this season.”
Leading that pack will be a versatile athlete in Josh Henry. The 5-foot-11 senior started in the fullback position two seasons ago and then, due to the team’s youth, moved to quarterback last year. He will primarily be at tailback in 2012, but Morrison reserves the right to put the ball in Henry’s hands in whatever way the Wildcats need.
“He’s a running back. He’s built to run and does really well there for us,” the coach said, highlighting Henry’s team-leading 748 rushing yards from 2011. “But that could change. He’s a good quarterback; we may rotate him back in there occasionally.”
Spencer Henderson will step into that vacated quarterback spot. He is a junior who enters the season with some experience as he filled in as the varsity signal-caller a couple of times a year ago.
Add to the list junior Brody Ellis, a linebacker and fullback who recorded over 600 yards last season; junior Shay Morrison, a linebacker and the top returning tight end; senior Chase Christensen, a middle linebacker and running back; and senior Jaden Ross, who will anchor the offensive and defensive lines.
“Being a little older will make a big difference for us this year. Hopefully we can play with a little more consistency, and mix up our offense a little more,” Morrison said, adding that his team typically ran the ball last season but he would like to be able to dip further into his bag of tricks this year.
“We have made it to the quarterfinals the last few years, but we want to use this experience to push through that and advance farther into the playoffs. Hopefully what we have learned will push us over the top.”
Richfield Wildcats at a glance
Coach: Corey Morrison is entering his 10th season as Richfield head coach, and he has accumulated an overall record of 27-59. Morrison is a graduate of Richfield High.
(7 returning starters; Fly speed option offense)
Senior Josh Henry totaled nearly 750 rushing yards a year ago, and that was as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback. He is being reassigned to running back again this season and will lead the offense from that position. Spencer Henderson becomes the quarterback of an offense with a lot of motion and deception. It averaged over 19 points a game last year. There are two spots on the line that will be filled with new kids, but all of the remaining positions return with varsity experience.
(7 returning starters)
Most of the players who star on offense will be pulling double duty and serve in key positions on defense. Four of those kids include Brody Ellis, Chase Christensen, Shay Morrison and Jaden Ross, the anchor of the defensive line. The Wildcats gave up nearly 24 points per game a season ago, a number the Richfield team is determined to improve on.
Coaches’ preseason 2A South straw poll: Second
Deseret News 2A South prediction: Third
Bottom line: Returning to the field with experience, and taking advantage of it, is the key for the Wildcats. The thumps and lumps they took at the beginning of last season can be very beneficial this year. Richfield needs to stay healthy and continue learning from mistakes it made in the first few games of last season.
Aug. 17 — EMERY, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — at Beaver, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — PAROWAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — GRAND, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — KANAB, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Richfield High School
All-time record: 309-366-12 (82 years)
Region championships: 17 (1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1984 co, 1985, 1988 co)
Playoff appearances: 36
All-time playoff record: 29-35-1
State championships: 1 (1984)
State championship record: 1-5
Most played rivalry: 63 meetings with North Sanpete dating back to 1923. Richfield leads 38-23-2. Last met in 2010.
Felt’s Factoid(s): The 1931 Wildcats are one of just six teams to average over 50 points a game. ... Richfield holds the record (tied with three others) for most sacks in a championship game with seven (1984).
Richfield coaching history
2008-present — Corey Morrison (24-19)
2005-2007 — Seth Giddings (12-18)
2000-2004 — Dave Clark (11-38)
1995-1999 — Corey Morrison (3-40)
1989-1994 — Randy Madsen (24-31)
1983-1988 — Paul Messersmith (50-17)
1982 — Larry Estep (4-5)
1979-1981 — Paul Tidwell (20-12)
1973-1978 — Nyle Norris (37-29)
1969-1972 — Gary Roylance (29-13-1)
1967-1968 — Ronald Pierce (1-16)
1966 — Ken Sampson (1-7)
1965 — Unknown (1-6-1)
1963-1964 — Andy Anderson (8-7-1)
1957-1962 — Art Nielson (12-34-3)
1955-1956 — Darwin Woodbury (2-12)
1943-1954 — Clive Roberts (1-7)
1937-1942 — Unknown (13-16-1)
1931-1936 — Joe Buys (28-14-1)
1925-1930 — Paul Packard (17-16)
1922-1924 — Unknown (6-7-3)
1921 — Harry Casey (5-1-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — Braden Hampton, RB/DB
2011 — Justus Clark, OL/DL
2010 — Robert TorgersonDL
2008 — J.D. Michaelsen, WR/DE
2007 — Tyler Tuttle, FB/LB
2004 — Austin Somers, RB
2003 — Jason Jensen, DL
2002 — Keith Boren, RB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Contributing: Jessica Wilde, Conner Johnson, Steve Mundee and prep football historian George Felt.