But while that worries coaches, Nielsen said they are preparing for that reality.
“We’re conditioning really hard so we can go both ways,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a problem.” Wooldridge said he wants to see the players have faith in themselves, even when faced with tough situations.
“We hope for the best,” he said. “Our region didn’t get any easier, but we just want to compete all through region play. “
He said the seniors are providing solid leadership and if the team finds the right mentality, it can play with any team on its schedule. The players want teams to know they’re not just happy being in the game; they’re playing to win.
“We’re a humble team,” said Albert Semeatu, a senior running back and linebacker. “We’re back, and we’re here to play and we’re here to stay.”
Pirates at a glance
Coach: Scott Wooldridge is in his second year as the Pirates' head coach. He led the team to a 5-5 record last year. He went to high school in Nampa, Idaho, and played college ball at Western Oregon.
(6 returning starters; zone read)
Senior quarterback Dennis Kamakana III and senior running back Albert Semeatu lead a talented group of skill players. Their challenge is to mentor and teach the completely new offensive line. The Pirates have some size, but it will come down to grit and speed as the inexperienced players try to compete against some of the state’s best. Wooldridge said the team’s young receivers are looking good, and the best attribute of the new starters is their work ethic.
(8 returning starters)
While there is significantly more experience on the defensive side of the ball, the Pirates have players competing on both offense and defense. Conditioning will be key, and the key contributors will be Semeatu and his younger brother A.J., both of whom will play linebacker. Center Nathan Nielsen will play middle linebacker, while wide receiver Marcus Vigil will play defensive back.
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: 6th place
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: 7th place
Bottom line: The Pirates' goal is to compete every time they take the field. They lost a lot of experience last season, and while they have some talented athletes, their success will depend on three main factors — the play of the new offensive line, the cohesion of the team, and whether the players actually believe they are capable of beating teams like Bountiful, Woods Cross and East.
Cyprus coaching history
2012-Current — Scott Wooldridge (5-5)
2009-2011 — Brian Jacketta (4-25)
2000-2008 — Sonny Sudbury (45-52)
1995-1999 — Dave Peck (20-30)
1986-1994 — Jerry Simonson (34-53)
1979-1985 — Billy Hunter (33-33)
1975-1978 — Don Conrad (17-20)
1973-1974 — Tom Crittenden (5-11)
1966-1972 — Glen Rupp (28-37)
1961-1965 — Howard Condie (14-28)
1953-1960 — Lex McKee (26-39)
1948-1952 — Roy Mercer (31-12)
1945-1947 — Unknown (13-8)
1944 — Bill Cowley (7-1)
1942-1943 — Unknown (5-8)
1941 — Gus Papanikolas (1-6)
1940 — Ronald Sleator (1-6)
1931-1939 — Russell Magleby (23-37)
1930 — Glen Worthington (3-3)
1927-1929 — Unknown (5-10)
1926 — Mr. Walker (5-2)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2005 — Henna Brown, DB
2003 — Joe Ellis, OL
2003 — Daryl Brown, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.