Note: Parowan finished with a 1-8 overall record in 2012 and was eighth in 2A North with an 0-7 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
PAROWAN — It’s been tough sledding for Parowan’s football team the past two seasons.
In 2011 the Rams didn’t win a game, and then last season in Brigham Nielsen’s first year as head coach they went 1-8, with that lone win coming against Cedar JV.
The lumps taken last year in particular — no surprise as the young team learned the nuances of the triple-option offense — could pay dividends this season.
“There’s a lot of juniors and good sophomores that got significant time and learned a lot and progressed a lot. It’s really going to help us for this year,” said Nielsen.
In fact, just about every major contributor is back for Parowan.
A year ago at this time there was a tremendous uncertainty surrounding the offensive switch, something that was realistically a work in progress all season. A year later, the comfort level for the players and coaching staff is so much, much better.
“It’s a lot easier this year knowing what’s going on and knowing what I have player-wise and being able to plan for that,” said Nielsen.
Parowan’s coach said he plans on tweaking a few things offensively to work around the strengths and weaknesses of his personnel, but the base offense will still be the same.
Anything is an improvement upon last year.
The youthful Rams were the lowest-scoring team in 2A last season at only eight points per game, as they broke double digits only three times.
With the departure of only one senior from the offensive line, Nielsen believes an O-line anchored by Cannon Brunzvick should help the Rams move the ball much more effectively.
A quarterback with a year of experience running the triple-option will help too. Caleb Murphy began last season as an offensive lineman, but after injuries to the starting quarterback and backup, Murphy was thrust into that role over the final month. He did an admirable job.
“He’s one of the leaders of the team, so it’s good to have someone there. He’s kind of like a point guard,” said Nielsen.
Nielsen believes the 2013 schedule is much more favorable, even though a week five visit from San Juan is obviously a very difficult matchup.
“I’m excited about the region. I think we should be able to be competitive every game, and beat some of those teams. I don’t say that cocky, but I believe we have the talent and the kids have been working hard enough if they keep it up we’ll be in a position to do that,” said Nielsen.
To reach that level, Parowan’s offense isn’t the only thing that needs improving. The Rams ranked second to last defensively in 2A last season, allowing more than 36 points per game — surrendering 40-plus points each game the final five weeks.
The team has worked a lot in the offseason in the weight room on improving hip explosion, something Nielsen believes translates 100 percent to success on the football field.
Tackling is the area Parowan needs the most help defensively, and Nielsen’s going to put the 11 best players on the field regardless of position. If a lineman can tackle better than his safety, “I’m going to put a lineman at safety.
“I don’t care who it is. We need 11 guys out there on the field who are going to tackle,” he said.