Scroll to bottom of story to see Mountain Crest Felt's Facts
Note: Mountain Crest finished with a 6-5 overall record and tied for second in Region 5 with a 3-2 record in 2011. It lost to Westlake in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
HYRUM — Take a couple of bona-fide Division I prospects, throw in a great group of other hard-working young men who are determined to continue the program's strong winning tradition, and what have you got?
Another rousing edition of Mountain Crest High School football.
The Mustangs will certainly make their presence known in what promises to be a rugged Region 5 race this season.
Under Mark Wootton, who begins his ninth season of riding herd as the Mustangs' head coach, Mountain Crest has won no less than six games over each of the last seven seasons.
And from 2005-10, the Mustangs got at least as far as the state semifinals five times during a mighty impressive six-year span. They reached the state finals twice during that time, winning the 4A championship in 2005. Along the way, they had three straight 10-win seasons from 2008-10, when they were a combined 30-7.
Now, with seven-straight state playoff appearances, Mountain Crest is champing at the bit to earn more of the same.
"That's one thing Mountain Crest has had for years," Wootton said. "The tradition's pretty good and that plays such a huge a part in it. Most of these kids think we should win.
"Hopefully, they'll come out and play hard and we can get rolling. They have great potential, but we're a ways away from reaching it. I think we have real good potential."
Indeed, with go-to guys like running back Eddy Hall and wide receiver Faimafili Laulu-Pututai, the Mustangs could certainly reach it and cause people some sleepless nights this season.
Laulu-Pututai — they call him "Moroni," or "Mo" for short — is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior who received first team all-state honors last year and has verbally committed to play at BYU next year. He had 46 receptions for 737 yards and nine touchdowns last season, and he likes his team's chances this season.
"We're a different team from last year," said Laulu-Pututau, whose team finished second to Logan in last year's region race. "We're a lot faster and I think we have better work ethic, too."
So how good could the Mustangs be this year?
"Region champs and potentially state champs, too," he said. "We're going for it."
Hall played quarterback last season, and he was a great one who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for over 500 yards and eight more scores.
This year, though, he's been switched to a running back and slotback position, where's he's expected to flourish while senior Jamison Webb, who missed part of last season after suffering a broken leg, takes over the starting quarterback chores.
"Webb has taken a majority of the reps this summer," Wootton said. "He had a good summer and we won two of the passing league tournaments we were in (BYU and Weber State).
"And we know what Eddy could do there if we needed him."
At tight end, senior Alex Huerta is a returning starter and is joined by senior Chad Larson.
Big Kyle Christiansen, a 6-foot-3 junior who weighs in at over 300 pounds, is a returning starter who anchors the offensive line at his tackle spot. He's joined by returning starter Jon Boam at guard, senior Brandon Freston at the other tackle spot and senior center Jaden Maughn.
Over on the defensive line, Christiansen will be a fixture at tackle, joined by seniors Trevor Hulse, Arrington Evans and Andy Oakden. Huerta, Taylor and Larson will man the defensive end spots, with seniors Stetson Weston, Colby Wengreen and Troy Netzly at linebacker, where Hall might also play at times.
In the defensive backfield, seniors Kaden Lindley, Talon Niederhauser and Smith will play cornerback, with Laulu-Pututai and senior returning starter Zac Kimball at the safety spots, where Hall will see some playing time as well.
"We have some kids that are back that are experienced," Wootton said. "But obviously we're gonna have to get them playing with some confidence in games and get them to believe in themselves. I think we have a pretty good core of kids coming back, and they're real hard workers. And we know they're going to play hard.
"Some of our skill kids like 'Mo' and Eddy and those guys, they are D-I kids who have been offered (scholarships), and any time you have a couple of those kids on the field at one time, it really spreads out defenses. I know Moroni gets a ton of attention; people double him quite a bit, which for Eddy is a real good thing because it gets him out alone. So, hopefully, they'll double both of them," Wootton said with a smile.
The Mustangs' coach cites a lack of varsity experience as perhaps his team's biggest weakness, but he appreciates their diligent, hard-working nature and figures it's only a matter of time before they'll start gaining confidence and playing up to their potential.
"The only weakness with this team would just be inexperience," Wootton said. "We have some experience; we've got kids that we think can play and be real successful, but they just need to have it proven to themselves. I think once those kids start saying, 'Hey, I think I can get this done,' we could be pretty good.
"These kids up here in this region, for whatever reason, really work hard and I think each program keeps an eye on other programs and their kids see how hard those programs work and they know they need to put in the time. We never, ever have to ask our kids to put in the time.
"They started in February and we start at 6 in the morning, and we had 120 kids there," he said. "They know that they have to, and it weeds out those kids that aren't really sure, so we have a bunch of really good, hard-working kids. Other teams in the region know our kids work hard, and we know their kids work hard, too, so we know we've got to get it going. We have great fans, great support and it's a fun community to play for, and the parents up here are great, too."
And with the great winning program they've produced over the last several seasons, it's no wonder.
Mountain Crest Mustangs at a glance
Coach: Mark Wootton begins his ninth season as Mountain Crest's head coach. He has compiled a 65-29 overall record in eight seasons at the school. He is 138-85 overall in 21 years as a high school head coach. He is a graduate of Provo High.
(6 returning starters; Spread offense)
Eddy Hall and Faimafili Laulu-Pututai certainly give the Mustangs a pair of prolific performers to draw to, and Kyle Christiansen and Jon Boam provide the makings of a dominant offensive line. If Jamison Webb can match or surpass the kind of numbers that Hall produced at quarterback last season, and guys like Gaje Ferguson, Josh Bladand, Nick Watterson, Nick Taylor, Luke Smith and Alex Huerta make the kind of contributions they're expecting from them, then Mountain Crest's offense should be just fine.
(5 returning starters, Base 4-3 defense)
Christiansen is a mammoth force on the D-line, and he's got some sizable talent around him in Trevor Hulse, Arrington Evans, Huerta, Taylor and Chad Larson that should be solid run-stoppers. If the senior-laden linebacking corps and secondary play up to expectations, the Mustangs should be effective at preventing opposing teams from putting together long scoring drives.
Coaches preseason Region 5 prediction: Second
Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Second
Bottom line: The Mustangs might not have the horses to hang with a loaded Logan High team that's coming off an unbeaten state championship season. But this Cache Valley crew knows how to win and has enough viable weapons to cause people some trouble. Another in a long line of state playoff berths appears well within their grasp, and if the playmakers live up to their lofty expectations, a postseason run could be a strong possibility.
Aug. 17 — MOUNTAIN VIEW, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — LONE PEAK, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — at Weber, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — SKY VIEW, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Bonneville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — at Logan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — ROY, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — at Northridge, 7 p.m.
..... Felt’s Facts for Mountain Crest High School
All-time record: 195-120 (29 years)
Region championships: 12 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010 co)
Playoff appearances: 23
All-time playoff record: 39-20
State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)
State championship record: 3-3
Most played rivalry: 31 meetings with Sky View dating back to 1983. Mountain Crest leads 22-9. Meet on Sept. 14.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Mountain Crest defeated its top rival Sky View, 9-7, for the 1987 Class 3A championship in front of a state-record 19,887 fans at Utah State’s Romney Stadium. ... MC’s Alex Kuresa (2007-10) holds the career total offense record: 12,917 yards.
Mountain Crest coaching history
2004-current — Mark Wootton (64-30)
2001-2003 — Art Erickson (19-16)
1988-2000 — Dan Cox (85-39)
1986-1987 — Jack Robinson (16-8)
1983-1985 — George Bayles (3-23)
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
2010 — Alex Kuresa, QB
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2005 — Brady Wootton, RB
2002 — Ryan Zimmerman, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2010 — Troy Pickett, WR
2010 — Fernando Huerta, OL
2010 — Tanner Richardson, LB
2010 — Schofield Smith, DB
2010 — Nate Rigby, SP
2009 — Alex Kuresa, QB
2009 — Alex Knowles, RB
2009 — Tyler Weese, WR
2009 — Matt Stewart, TE
2008 — Colton Reeder, OL
2008 — Ethen Lofthouse, LB
2008 — Ethan Rasmussen, DB
2007 — Nick Salvesen, DL
2005 — Brady Zimmerman, QB
2005 — Cameron Webb, WR
2005 — Nick Salvesen, DL
2005 — Phillip Rutledge, LB
2003 — Mark Watterson, WR
2003 — Luke Lofthouse, LB
2002 — Carl Blad, WR
2002 — Nick Eliason, TE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Mountain Crest's Eddy Hall
Mountain Crest running back Eddy Hall talks about the upcoming 2012 season.