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High school football: Desert Hills Thunder 2012 preview

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9 2012 9:39 p.m. MDT

He’s a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who runs a 4.6 40-yard dash and has great hands. Utah State and Southern Utah are both showing interest in Anderson right now.

Brad Wulfenstein only had one catch a year ago, but he could emerge as one of 3A’s best receivers this year. Confidence gained on the track is a big reason why. Wulfenstein finished third in the 110 and 300 hurdles last spring, and he’s carried that momentum into football.

“He’s a different kid this year — bigger, stronger and faster — and he’s got a lot of confidence going into the season and that’s helped a lot this year,” said Franke.

Offensive line is certainly a question mark with the graduation of four starters, and the Thunder might only be starting one senior in the trenches this year.

Defensively, Desert Hills won’t be as big at the line of scrimmage as it was a year ago, but Franke believes the team will make up for it with speed and the overall willingness to work hard.

“Effort and heart is something we can’t teach, and this team has a lot of effort and heart,” said Franke. “We just need to clean up all the technique-type stuff and find the right personnel on the field to do that.”

Desert Hills Thunder at a glance

Coach: Carl Franke is in his first year as head coach at Desert Hills, but he’s been an assistant coach with the Thunder the past couple years. He’s a graduate of Minnisink Valley High in New York.

Offense

(3 returning starters; Spread offense)

An inexperienced offensive line is the big question mark facing Desert Hills this year. Odds are good that first-year quarterback Ty Rutledge will be fine, as will Brock Johnson and Bridger Cowdin at running back, but who does the blocking is the concern. Brock Doman is the lone returning starter, but he’s just a junior. He could be joined by at least two more juniors and a sophomore in the trenches this year. The X-factor could be Josh Anderson at tight end. He’s arguably the best tight end in 3A, and he’ll present match-up problems for opposing defenses all year.

Defense

(5 returning starters)

Speed will be Desert Hills’ top weapon defensively this year. Travis LaGrone will anchor things at linebacker. He’s good enough to play wide receiver as well, but Franke said he wants the senior healthy and rested for defense this year. Junior Sil Bundy is another player expected to make contributions at linebacker. Seniors Keenan Wittwer and Josh Anderson will anchor the defense line, while Jordan Hokansen is a very athletic player who will roam the secondary. Quarterback Ty Rutledge will have to play some secondary as well.

Coaches preseason Region 9 straw poll: Fourth

Deseret News Region 9 prediction: Fifth

Bottom line: The big question surrounding this program is whether it reloads or rebuilds after the graduation of 27 seniors. It will likely be a combination of the two. As a result, Desert Hills will likely be in a dog fight all year for a Region 9 playoff berth. Hurricane is the favorite to win the league title, while Dixie and Pine View should be much improved. That likely leaves Desert Hills battling it out with Cedar, Snow Canyon and Canyon View for the last playoff spot.

2012 Schedule

Aug. 17 — at Syracuse, 7 p.m.

Aug. 24 — BYE

Aug. 31 — WEST, 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 — PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 — at Dixie, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 — at Stansbury, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 — SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at Hurricane, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.

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Felt’s Facts for Desert Hills High School

All-time record: 25-19 (4 years)

Region championships: 0

Playoff appearances: 4

All-time playoff record: 4-4

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-1

Most played rivalry: 5 meetings with two schools, Cedar and Hurricane, both dating back to 2008. Cedar leads 4-1 and Hurricane leads 4-1. Meets Cedar on Oct. 18 and Hurricane on Oct. 11.

Felt's Factoid(s): DH, 4 years old, is one of just three schools to make the playoffs every year of its history.

Desert Hills coaching history

2012 — Carl Franke

2009-2011 — Jake Nelson (22-12)

2008 — Kevin Cuthbertson (3-7)

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Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2011 — Mike Needham, RB

2011 — Peter Brown, LB

2011 — Bud Pope, DB

2010 — Peter Brown, LB

2010 — Bud Pope, DB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

Email: jedward@desnews.com

Twitter: @DNewsPreps

Contributing: Jessica Wilde, Conner Johnson, Steve Mundee and prep football historian George Felt.

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