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Note: Beaver finished with a 6-4 overall record and was tied for second in the 2A South region with a 5-2 record in 2011. It lost to South Summit, 17-7, in the quarterfinals of the 2A playoffs.
BEAVER — This might finally be the year Beaver’s football team makes the jump into the upper echelon of 2A.
Lately, that elite group has included San Juan, Manti, Millard and South Summit, but Beaver is optimistic about turning the Big 4 into the Big 5 in 2012.
“We really need to take that next step. For our program’s sake we’d like to join that top group of teams,” said coach Steve Hutchings.
There are several reasons to believe Beaver can make the jump. For starters, the Beavers are deeper than they’ve been in nearly a decade.
Beaver’s senior and junior classes are both pretty good, according to Hutchings, the first time in quite awhile he can recall having back-to-back strong classes in his program. Usually the classes have alternated between strong and weak.
Senior Lyndon Bradshaw believes that will make a big difference as Beaver tries to dethrone San Juan as the 2A South region champion.
“There’s people competing for every position this year. That’s something Beaver especially hasn’t had for years. This year we have a lot of seniors and we’ve had a lot of juniors step up competing for those positions,” said Bradshaw.
The other thing Bradshaw and his teammates have going for them is a belief they can compete.
In the past Beaver seemed resigned to its place in the 2A pecking order. The semifinals were simply an unattainable dream. Making it to the quarterfinals was the plateau. It showed in the 2010 quarterfinals as South Summit rolled over Beaver for a 46-0 win.
Last year the teams met in the quarterfinals again, but Beaver was in the hunt the entire game before eventually losing 17-7 on a late South Summit touchdown. Two weeks earlier Beaver played No. 1 San Juan tough as well, eventually losing 25-13.
Having come close to beating one of the Big 4 in the playoffs, Beaver’s deep roster and the inner-drive to take the next step as a program makes it a very dangerous team this season.
It’s all about filling in the gaps. Beaver has a great foundation to build on with six returning starters on offense, but plugging the holes at quarterback, fullback and two of the offensive line positions is going to be critical.
“If our kids can step up to that, we’ll be as good if not better than last year. If we can’t step up to that, we won’t,” said Hutchings.
Michael Roberts is the front-runner to be handed the quarterback reigns of the Wing-T offense. He was the JV quarterback last year and looked good throughout the summer.
The fullback position is more up in the air with Anthony Gibson, Jessee McMullin and Baily Bradshaw in the mix. All three will play, and one of the three will likely end up playing a running back position.
Defensively, Hutchings is very confident in his team and expects that to be the strength early on.
Kendall White is a four-year starter at linebacker with roughly 160 career tackles and eight sacks. Bradshaw is a ball hawk in the secondary with 16 career interceptions.
The defensive line is strong as well with Landon Smith and Tyler Terry all returning starters in the trenches. Those three will need to come up big if Beaver is going to have success stopping the run.