SPRINGVILLE — Springville has a bad taste in its mouth and is anxious to get rid of it — as soon as possible.
The Red Devils went just 2-8 last season under then first-year coach Willy Child, a mark they feel isn’t acceptable for a program accustomed to making deep runs in the playoffs.
“I feel we made some strides last season, but you obviously have to win some more games,” Child said. “Our players didn’t like how we finished last season and it’s shown with how they’ve worked in the offseason. We need to get back to winning football games here.”
Child, like most first-year coaches, learned a lot of lessons on the fly last fall and feels much more prepared this year as a result.
“All in all it was a good experience that first year and I learned a lot about myself and key things I need to do to get this program where it should be,” Child said. “We had almost a completely new staff, so it took some time to get used to the systems being run, and to each other, but I feel we’re over that and we should be better.”
It didn't help having only four senior starters last year, but the good news is a lot of underclassmen were played extensively and almost every starter is back for 2013.
“We lost some good seniors, and it was tough for them to go out not winning a lot of games,” Child said. “At the same time, we’re getting a lot of guys back who played a ton last year, so that’s obviously going to be an advantage.”
Leading the group of returning players are receivers Jessi Noll, Rhett Clark, Jake Johnson and Justin Ollerton.
“I think the strength of our team will be with our skill-position players,” Child said. “We need to find a quarterback, but we have a lot of guys who can make plays and what we think will be a solid offensive line.”
The returning talent at offensive line includes Niko Apaui, Kaika Drollinger and Thomas Slack.
Defensively the team will feature defensive end Zach Hansen, who will be a three-year starter, and middle linebacker Braiden Leslie.
“Braiden is a leader for us and a great football player,” Child said. “Zach has been good for us for a long time, so it’s good to have leaders like that back on the team.”
With last year in the rearview mirror and with an altered Region 8 to compete in, players are raring to get started.
“These kids have become used to a lot of success growing up, so I think last year was a real shock to them,” Child said. “It’s the first time a lot of them have dealt with losing a lot of games, so they’re being motivated by that — we all are. But it’s going to be tough in our region. I like our chances though and certainly expect to make a run at the playoffs and improve.”
Springville Red Devils at a glance
Coach: Willy Child enters his second season as Springville's head coach. He’s been coaching at Springville for 18 years and has been the baseball head coach for the past 12 years.
(8 returning starters; pro style)
Springville threw the ball around a lot last season, but that wasn't a good thing, according to Child. Entering 2013, he wants to focus on a more balanced approach.
"We need to be running the football more. That's certainly something we'll focus on," he said. "We lost some talent at running back, but we have some good guys coming back and we think we'll have a very good offensive line to run behind."
Child's son, Willy D. Child, will be counted on at running back, along with Jarom Hendricks.
(10 returning starters; 4-3)
With a solid running attack, the offense is hoping to keep the defense out of difficult situations.
"I think we put ourselves in very tough situations early in games last year," Child said. "This year we're going to be more balanced and try and control the ball more than last year. Our defense has a lot of good players returning, so we're comfortable there."
Coach's preseason Region 8 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 8 prediction: Fifth
Bottom line: Springville has a lot of key parts returning, and should easily surpass last year's total of just two wins. It's a program used to success, and it's very reasonable to expect the Red Devils to surpass their fifth-place prediction and to make a run into the 4A state playoffs.
Springville coaching history
2012-current — Willy Child (2-8)
2008-2011 — Scott Mitchell (30-17)
2007 — Dan Hansen (2-9)
1990-2006 — Doug Bills (89-80)
1981-1989 — Ray Newbury (59-29)
1966-1980 — Mike Jacobsen (72-68-1)
1962-1965 — Karol Bills (2-5-29)
1957-1961 — Benny Kilpack (9-30)
1945-1956 — George Pehrson (46-38-11)
1942-1944 — Art Gilbert (6-12-2)
1937-1941 — Ned McBeth (17-15-5)
1936 — Carl Davis (3-1-2)
1935 — Mr. Rowe (2-2-2)
1932-1934 — Paul Thorne (5-12-1)Comment on this story
1930-1931 — Bob How (6-5-2)
1929 — Unknown (4-2-1)
1928 — C. B. Leddingham (5-1-1)
1908-1927 — Unknown (26-28-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — Caleb McCray, LB
2010 — Marcus Case RB
2010 — Matt Sumsion TE
2010 — Brody Swanson DL
2009 — Jeff Geuck, DL
2009 — Alema Key, LB
2004 — Trevyn Smith, RB
2004 — Dan Gardner, OL
2003 — Alex Thorson, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.