"It would be huge for the team, the school and the community," said Thomas.
Added Pututau, "It would mean a lot. It would mean proving everybody wrong."
Mulitalo echoed that sentiment, "It would mean a great deal. Maybe it would even bring back those players who left for other programs."
The secret to the changes isn't much of a secret.
"Work hard," said Pututau. "Work hard every day."
Granger Lancers at a glance
Coach: Cecil Thomas coached at Cottonwood for three seasons (2007-09) and posted a 31-7 record. His 2007 squad played for the 4A state title and was a contender every season. Before that, he was an assistant at Cottonwood for four years. He had been at Weber State coaching the offensive line for the last two seasons.
(4 returning starters; Power-I offense)
The team lost the bulk of its starters, but senior offensive linemen Feleti Mulitalo and Chris Shell will provide experience at the line of scrimmage. Junior running back Soatani Leha'uli and senior fullback Solomone Latu will help the team grind out yardage on the ground. Kyhiris Luavai, a junior, will start at tight end and help open up the field for the Lancers.
(5 returning starters)
The Lancer defense is big and athletic. The group is led by Marshall Auva'a, a junior linebacker, Solomone Latu, a senior linebacker and Vino Lehauli, a senior linebacker. SoaTani Leha'uli, a junior defensive back, will help stop the passing attack, but the real question mark is the team's defensive line. With 19 seniors having graduated, there are lots of holes to fill on both sides of the ball.
Bottom line: The team is replacing a lot of experience — 19 seniors — and dealing with another new coach. Thomas' style is similar to Gerke's, so the student athletes say they're adjusting easily to Thomas' leadership. They're not alone in dealing with a new coach and changes to the offense, so that should level the playing field.
Coach’s preseason Region 8 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 8 prediction: Fourth
Fri. Aug. 17 — PAYSON, 7 p.m.
Fri. Aug. 24 — MURRAY, 7 p.m.
Fri. Aug. 31 — at Cyprus, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 7 — JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 14 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 21 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 28 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 5 — TAYLORSVILLE, 7 p.m.
Thu. Oct. 11 — WEST, 7 p.m.
Wed. Oct. 17 — at Kearns, 7 p.m.
Felts Facts for Granger High School
All-time record: 242-283-5 (54 years)
Region championships: 9 (1967, 1976 co, 1977 co, 1985, 1987 co, 1988, 1989 co, 1995, 1999 co)
Playoff appearances: 25
All-time playoff record: 13-25
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Most played rivalry: 44 meetings with Cyprus dating back to 1958. Granger leads 24-19-1. Meet on Aug. 31.
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