“They’re very smart kids. What we don’t have in talent we make up with smarts,” said Franke of his players. “The kids have done a great job of understanding the defense coach (Nick) Hansen has implemented. We do a lot of different things. It’s pretty complicated for a high school defense, but these kids pick it up so fast.”
The defense also hits hard, a physical brand of football the coaching staff preaches every day. Against some of the more finesse teams in 3A, Franke believes being physical gives his team the necessary edge.
Desert Hills Thunder at a glance
Coach: Carl Franke is in his second year as head coach at Desert Hills. He’s a graduate of Minisink Valley High in New York.
(7 returning starters; Spread offense)
After the graduation of QB Ty Rutledge, Desert Hills is turning to a sophomore Nick Warmsley this season. Warmsley played tailback on the freshman team last year, but he was given a look at QB this summer and coach Franke said he looked more poised and comfortable in the pocket than anyone else. With an experienced offensive line in front of him, talented junior Bridger Cowdin in the backfield, and 2012 leading receiver Jordan Hokanson to throw to, Warmsley realistically just needs to manage the game this season for Desert Hills to be successful.
(6 returning starters)
Desert Hills had a strong defense last year, but in big games against teams like Syracuse, Dixie and then in the 3A semifinals against Spanish Fork, it struggled to get off the field. With six returning starters, it hopes to improve. The Thunder will be particularly strong on the defensive line as coach Franke hopes to have a rotation of three or four defensive tackles. Wil Bundy is back at middle linebacker after leading the team in tackles last year, while Tucker Cowdin and Gabriel Sewell will start alongside him. Landen Broadhead, Braden Reber, Jacob Gabriel and Mason Palmer make a potentially formidable secondary.
Coaches preseason 3AA South straw poll: First
Deseret News 3AA South prediction: Second
Bottom line: With the caliber of returning starters on the roster this year, anything less than a region title would be disappointing. The schedule is set up nicely for Desert Hills to take care of business as it hosts Dixie, Hurricane and Payson in region play this season. Fulfilling expectations could be the biggest challenge this team faces. It wasn’t the team to beat in Region 9 either of the past two seasons, but this year the target is squarely on the Thunder.
Desert Hills coaching history
2012-current — Carl Franke (8-4)
2009-2011 — Jake Nelson (22-12)
2008 — Kevin Cuthbertson (3-7)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Ty Rutledge, QB
2012 — Josh Anderson, TE
2011 — Mike Needham, RB
2011 — Peter Brown, LB
2011 — Bud Pope, DB
2010 — Peter Brown, LB
2010 — Bud Pope, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Follow Deseret News prep editor James Edward on Twitter @DNewsPreps
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