High school football: Lehi Pioneers 2012 preview

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Note: Lehi finished with a 2-8 overall record and an 0-5 Region 4 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the state playoffs.

LEHI — Rebuilding the Lehi football program isn’t an easy task, but it’s something coach David Hastings believes he can do. After accomplishing something last fall no Lehi coach had done since 2008 — he would appear well on his way.

The accomplishment? Hastings was able to win his first career game at Lehi —defeating Timpanogos 32-24 to start the 2011 season. It was a big thing for the players and everyone involved with the program. It was the first win for Lehi in 26 games.

“Learning how to win in a program that hasn’t been able to win for a long while isn’t an easy thing,” said Hastings. “One of our themes my first year was to expect to win, and it’s something these kids haven’t expected to do for a long, long time. So the credit goes to them for believing in what we’re trying to do here.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Hastings made strides his first year considering his coaching experience. He turned around a bottom-of-the-barrel program at Sugar Salem in Idaho before making his way to Lehi.

Now that it’s off the snide in winning a football game, Lehi will now look to take the next step: being competitive in Region 4 and making a run at a playoff berth. Considering how tough the region is, accomplishing those things will be very difficult.

“Our region is brutal,” said Hastings. “The preseason rankings come out and the Top 2 schools are in our region in Bingham and Lone Peak, so it’s going to be tough to compete in this region. But it’s something we’re aiming to do.”

Having implemented brand new offensive and defensive systems, Hastings is confident his team is ready to take the next step. Lehi will be a young team in 2012, but it's a team that returns a lot of experience.

“We started a lot of sophomores and juniors last year, so those guys will be back and that will be a strength for us,” said Hastings. “We had five sophomores starting on offense last year and some of those starting on defense as well, so those guys should be improved and we should be better on both sides of the ball.”

The Pioneer offense was humming last season behind Hasting’s double-wing system. It wasn’t uncommon for the team to account for over 300 yards on the ground with Zane Munger leading the way with 1,211 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Munger is gone, but Folo Ulukivaiola “Bubba” is back. Bubba rushed for 918 yards and eight touchdowns and will be asked to be the primary ball-carrier. “Bubba showed what he could do last year and I think he’ll be that much better for us this year,” said Hastings.

The team returns most of its starting offensive linemen and has put on a lot of good weight in the offseason. According to Hastings several players have added close to 30 pounds of muscle.

“I’m very happy with how kids responded to the work I wanted to see them do in the offseason,” said Hastings. “It’s a credit to their attitude and their dedication to this program. We’ve added a theme this year that’s 'Brothers, family, Lehi,' so we’re working on keeping the players accountable to others and so far I feel they’ve responded.

"We’ve had small successes. We placed in the Top 8 in the passing competition at BYU and with those successes it builds a positive attitude with everyone and that’s what we want here.”

Lehi Pionners at a glance

Coach: David Hastings is entering his second season at Lehi after going 2-8 his first year. He hails from Idaho and is a graduate of Madison High School.