High school football: Hunter Wolverines 2012 preview

Published: Friday, Aug. 10 2012 8:13 a.m. MDT

Scroll to bottom of story to see Hunter Felt's Facts

Note: Hunter finished with a 3-7 overall record and was 3-2 in Region 2 in 2011. It lost to Lone Peak, 51-6, in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

WEST VALLEY CITY — When Scott Henderson met with the Hunter High football team, he knew the players might have trouble trusting him.

He was, after all, the fourth coach in three years to ask the young men to buy into his coaching philosophy. They were eager for leadership, but they also had some doubts.

"They asked me, 'Coach, how long are you going to be here?'" Henderson said they asked him in their first meeting. "I said, 'They're going to bury me in the field.'"

Despite the turmoil and uncertainty, which led to several players leaving for other programs, Henderson, who was working as an assistant at Cyprus, jumped at the chance to lead the program.

"I'm Hunter blue," he said. "I know the tradition here at Hunter. ... We have great athletes, great kids; they just need direction. This is a great program. ...We've just got to get it back on track."

Hunter is a program that has enjoyed success. The Wolverines are one of just five football programs to earn a state title with a 14-0 record, which they did in 2003. They've had two Mr. Football recipients and dozens of all-state players, many of whom have gone on to play college football.

"The (turmoil) has been kind of a learning experience," said junior running back and defensive back Nathan Uhi. "It's forced us to rely on each other, to come together as a brotherhood. This is where we come to find family, to find our brothers." He said Henderson's instilled a sense of pride through discipline and he's confident it will help the program become one of the state's best once again.

"These coaches are just bringing back the old Hunter ways and that's pretty exciting," he said.

Jaggar Wall, a senior defensive tackle and tight end, said the biggest changes are bringing back the traditional power I-offense, the intensity of the practices and the expectations of the coaches.

"For me, it's time to get serious," he said with a smile. "Coaches all have their different styles, but now we're coming back to what we're use to, to what we prefer — the I formation. We have talent but we need to work hard."

In the six months since Henderson was hired, the team GPA has already improved dramatically. About 60 percent of the players have a 3.0 or better, while only five students are currently ineligible.

"They need to learn they're students first," Henderson said. "They're only going to be able to play football for so long." He's already asked them to consider what it is they'd like to achieve in life, and then he'll help them figure out how to make it a reality.

"Whatever you're dreaming, it's possible," he tells his players. "Don't let people steal your dreams."

Hyrum Purcell, a senior running back and linebacker, said it was tough to think about playing for their fourth coach in four years.

"It was hard to trust, but we have to pull together," he said. "He's motivated us, and that's the main thing." The coaches' belief in them helps them have faith not only in themselves but in each other.

"It's been tough," said senior quarterback Shaun Scanlan. "But I think it's made us stronger."

Wolverines at a glance

Coach: Scott Henderson graduated from Cedar High and SUU. He's coached football for 17 years, including at Cottonwood, Taylorsville, Granite and Cyprus. He was the head coach at both Taylorsville and Granite with an overall record of 35-118.

Offense

(3 returning starters; Power-I offense)

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