PROVO — New football facilities can go a long way toward increasing team pride, and subsequently, improving team production.
That’s the hope, at least, of Provo coach Cody Mallory.
Mallory, and his team, have been greeted this season with brand-new facilities — including a $3.2 million renovation to a previously outdated and rundown football stadium. It’s the type of stadium that students, alumni, and most importantly, players can take pride in.
“Part of what we’re trying to do here is change the culture and I think those new facilities can go a long way in helping out with that,” Mallory said. “A stadium certainly can’t give you wins or losses by itself, but we’re hoping players will now look at our facilities and think ‘Hey, those are as nice as any school in this state and I’d love to play there.’ We need a new culture here — a culture of winning — and hopefully that stadium can help inspire that.”
Winning hasn’t come easily at Provo High recently. Mallory took over a struggling program last season, only be hit squarely in the mouth en route to a winless season.
Was it a learning experience for the then first-year coach? Absolutely.
“I obviously made some mistakes and wished I did some things differently looking back, but that’s all part of being a first-year coach,” Mallory says. “Our concern last year was increasing numbers and we did that by catering too much to players, who weren't totally committed to the program and their desires, and that was my biggest mistake. This year we’re doing it different.”
Mallory instituted a tougher offseason regimen for his players. Despite losing some players as a result, he feels his team will be better for it.
“Players responded well and really worked hard,” Mallory said. “I feel we’re much better prepared for this season, as a result. Sure, we lost some guys by not catering as much to what they wanted, but the kids we kept are completely committed to what we do now.”
Ironically, the team, despite the defections, maintained its numbers because of an influx of talented underclassmen to the program.
“It’s sort of like we’re starting over after last season. That’s sort of the feeling around here,” Mallory said. “We’re doing things different — things that I think will benefit us, for not just this season, but for the long haul.”
This year Provo will bring back some key contributors from last year, but has some holes to fill — particularly along both the offensive and defensive fronts. Key returnees include Brandon Holden, who will switch from quarterback to play both receiver and defensive back, and running back Spencer Ika.
“I really like our skill-position players and feel that’s going to be our strength,” Mallory said. “We’ll have a new quarterback, but we feel he’ll be a great player for us and he’ll have a great group of receivers to throw to. The key will be finding five guys who can play effectively on the line.”
On defense the team will return all three of its starting linebackers from last season.
“Our linebackers are the heart of our defense and we’ll have Brandon Holden at safety, so he’ll be the quarterback of the defense this year,” Mallory said. “Like on offense, we need to see a lot of growth on the line and we’re hopeful we can find guys to step up.”
The goal for Provo this year will be simply to win some games and develop a culture of winning.
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