“Everybody is facing the same adversity,” he said. “It’s just who has the mental toughness to overcome it.”
Grossaint said the emphasis on discipline is the same under Rickards as it was with Cosper, but he does feel the workouts are a little more demanding.
“I think our intensity level is higher,” he said. “I still expect to compete in region, for a region championship. I still believe we have that sort of team.”
Despite being young, he said the players are working hard, and it’s attitude and effort that help inexperienced players find success.
“Everybody’s bought into the program,” Grossaint said.
Adds senior receiver, running back and cornerback Amone Finau, “We’re a hard-nosed team with a lot of athletes.”
Rickards agrees, and said that while the team will run the same offense, he’s made changes in the defense to highlight the talent of those players.
“We’ve changed the defense quite a bit,” Rickards said, smiling. “We have some special kids who can play, and we’re going to take advantage of that personnel.”
Cougars at a glance
Coach: This is Matt Rickards' first season as a head coach. He is a graduate of Hunter and he played college football at Weber State.
Offense (2 returning starters):
Only tight end/receiver Colton Grossaint and wide receiver/running back Amone Finau (who is committed to the U of U) are back on offense this season. The team will need to find new chemistry with sophomore quarterback Bailey Floyd, who is the younger brother of last year’s starting QB Jordan Floyd. Daniel Tapusoa will play running back with promising junior receiver Sherwin Lavaka sure to make an impact. Lanu Toilolo, senior, and Molofaha Uhi, senior, will anchor both offensive and defensive lines.
Defense (7 returning):
Rickards believes defense will be the team’s strength. The Cougars return all of their defensive backs and linebackers. The same athletes that will anchor the offense will likely lead the team defensively. Senior Daniel Tapusoa; Grossaint; and younger brother of Amone Finau, Sione, who is a sophomore, will provide the team with a very athletic linebacking core. Rickards called Grossaint one of the best players in the state and said he is an “unbelievable tackler” who does “everything he’s supposed to.”
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: 4
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: 4
The Cougars have a core of talented, experienced athletes. They have high expectations and a lot of mental toughness in their senior class. Their success will depend on how the younger and more inexperienced players develop and come together. Their preseason is tough and their region will be tougher, so the team that welcomes adversity will have plenty of opportunity to prove their mettle.
Kearns coaching history
2013 — Matt Rickards (0-0)
2006-2012 — Bill Cosper (34-42)
2002-2005 — Doug Bills (9-31)
1997-2001 — Marvin Magalei (9-39)
1990-1996 — Mike Sorich (18-50)
1983-1989 — Tom Larsen (29-39)
1980-1982 — Bruce Takeno (5-20)
1978-1979 — Gil Cordova (2-16)
1966-1977 — Frank Klekas (47-69)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — James Felila, RB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.