Note: Pine View finished with a 7-4 overall record in 2012 and tied for fourth in Region 9 with a 3-3 record. It lost to Spanish Fork 26-21 in the 3A first round.
ST. GEORGE — After graduating a 2,100-yard rusher and four offensive linemen from last season, it’s back to the drawing board for the Pine View Panthers.
Not so fast, says coach Ray Hosner.
There will definitely be a transition period without running back Prentiss Miller, but Pano Tiatia has the potential to make it a very quick and painless one.
“I don’t think we miss a beat. I’m excited about having him. To be honest, he’s probably one of the best backs we’ve had in a long time,” said Hosner.
He’s certainly the most decorated.
Tiatia is a six-time Junior Golden Gloves national champion, and earlier this summer added a gold medal at the Victory Tournament in Ukraine.
The same toughness and work ethic Tiatia takes into the ring, the 5-foot-8, 195-pounder carries with him onto the football field. In the only game Tiatia received a heavy workload as a sophomore last season, he carried the ball 27 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns against Bear River. Miller also rushed for 140 yards on 18 carries that day.
Those gaping holes were opened by a senior-laden Pine View offensive line last season, but only Germo Fierro is back. Hosner is cautiously optimistic he has the players capable of filling those vacancies, and if it pans out that way, Pine View will be right in the think of the 3AA South region hunt.
The Panthers finished fourth in Region 9 last year, but Hosner was very impressed with the way his players battled through adversity.
“It was a great year. I was proud of them; they dug deep. We had a few injuries, and they just battled and battled and battled, and we were young,” said Hosner.
The most notable injury was to quarterback Kody Wilstead, who missed a month after suffering a serious ankle injury in week one. The Panthers were 2-3 without him — even though an East loss later became a forfeit win — but they were 4-2 after his return.
The two losses were nearly as impressive as the four wins. In Wilstead’s second game back, he had Pine View on the verge of beating undefeated Hurricane before losing in overtime. In the playoffs, Hosner’s team was a play or two away from upsetting Region 12 champ — and 3A runner-up — Spanish Fork in the 3A first round.
Wilstead has bulked up to 218 pounds heading into his junior year, and Hosner believes he’s capable of having a special season with his three leading receivers back from a year ago.
Defensively, Pine View will lean heavily on standout linebacker Thor Katoa. As a junior, he racked up 73 tackles and two sacks, and he’s a talent most of the in-state colleges are looking at.
If Pine View can fill in the defensive pieces around Katoa, particularly on the defensive line, it should be able to slow some of the offensive juggernauts in league play like Dixie and Hurricane.
Pine View Panthers at a glance
Coach: Ray Hosner is entering his 13th season as Pine View’s head coach with a career record of 101-37. He’s a graduate of Jamison Madison High School in New York.
(5 returning starters; Spread offense)