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Note: Uintah finished with an 1-8 overall record and was fifth in Region 10 with a 1-4 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
VERNAL — First-year coach Cody Reutzel attributed the recent hardships of the Uintah football program to an overall mentality — noting that the Utes have had plenty of skilled players here.
They just haven't been able to take those talented players and make them into winners lately.
“I don’t think it’s a problem with talent out here,” said Reutzel. “I think some of them don’t know or understand their talent level yet. We really have a pretty good group of kids. I think right now our biggest task is changing their mentality from what’s happened in the past to what we’re doing in the future.
“We’re trying to build more of a program than just a football team. I think that people are going to be surprised at how Uintah comes out this year.”
For a program that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2001 — it'll likely experience many hiccups before reaching its ultimate destination.
“I don’t want to (say) much negatively about what’s happened (in the past),” Reutzel said. “I think it takes a little bit of time to change the actual mentality. It’s one thing to say we’re doing things differently, but it takes a little bit of time for the kids to believe.”
Right now, the main priority is getting players and coaches on the same page. Avoiding confusion — relegating tasks and assignments cohesively — is always the first step to improving on the field.
The Utes limped on both sides of the ball in 2011 — on defense coughing up over 40 points per game comparable to only scoring only 11 points on Friday nights offensively.
“I don’t know if we’re the fastest team and I don’t know if we’re the biggest, most physical team. I think that we’re a very technical team. We like to make sure that our details are taken care of — that our kids know exactly where they’re supposed to be,” Reutzel said. “I think as a coach we get caught up in talking about what we know. In our program it doesn’t matter what we know or what we think the kids should do. It’s our job to make sure the kids know and do those things that we supposedly know and I think we’re doing a good job of that so far.”
Albeit, the uphill battle is unenviable and transitioning to new philosophies under different leadership usually requires time, but Reutzel still feels the Utes will contend for the final playoff spot in Region 10 this fall.
“As far as expectations, our goal is to always win a region championship. That’s what we want to do,” he explained. “(Will) we do (that) this year? I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not but that is our goal. I would say if we didn’t make the playoffs this year it would be a complete disappointment. I have some pretty strong confidence that we can do that.”
Uintah Utes at a glance
Coach: This year is Cody Reutzel’s welcoming party to the scene of high school football — his first ever as a head coach. He’s gained experience as an assistant, most recently at American Fork. He’s a graduate of Cedar High.
(5 returning starters; Multiple-formation offense)
What’s Uintah going to do on offense? Anyone? Going once. Twice — anyone? Bueller? In his first season as a head coach, Reutzel is going "007" when it comes to his offensive strategies in an attempt to keep teams guessing. So, the answer is: Time will tell.