RICHFIELD — No one has ever mistaken Richfield for a football school.
Since appearing in the 2A championship game in 1988 — years before any of the current students were born — Richfield has won just six playoff games over the past 24 years, and never two in the same season.
Coming off a third-straight winning season in 2012, however, Richfield might slowly be taking the necessary steps to becoming football relevant.
Coach Corey Morrison, who previously endured plenty of lean years during his two stints as Richfield's head coach, is confident his kids can compete in the revamped 3A South region this season.
“It’s one of our better groups of kids we’ve had for a few years,” said Morrison.
Experience is a big reason for the optimism as Richfield returns eight returning starters on offense and seven more on defense.
The prospect of a healthy Brody Ellis is great news for the Wildcats. In the first two games of 2012, the junior rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns, but he suffered a season-ending injury late in week two.
Morrison called Ellis a "stud," and said the running back's return will be an excellent addition to the team's fly offense. He’s one of several experienced seniors the Wildcat offense will lean heavily on.
Spencer Henderson is back at quarterback after passing for a little less than 1,000 yards last season and rushing for 266 yards. He’s a very athletic QB, someone Morrison believes will be much more dynamic this year.
“He’s quick. It’s probably why we’ll use a little more option in our offense. At the end of the year he really looked good running the option when we started to use it,” said Morrison.
One of Henderson’s best passing performances of the season came in a 21-14 playoff loss to South Summit, and more outings like that are expected with his favorite targets back this year.
Brenan Thomas is a big-play receiver with good height and decent speed, while Shay Morrison is a weapon at tight end.
That experience should help the Wildcats, who were in the bottom half of 2A last year averaging less than 20 ppg.
The biggest question mark for Richfield’s offense in 2013 is who will do the blocking as the team returns just two offensive line starters.
If that line comes together and gels by the start of league play, Richfield will be right in the think of the 3A South race with Manti, Juab, Delta, North Sanpete and Canyon View. Coach Morrison believes the new region will be a dogfight each night.
“I think every week is a tough game. In the past you’ve had maybe some that weren’t quite as tough. You run into even teams every week, and I really think that’s how it is,” said Morrison.
Defensively, Richfield was one of the better teams in 2A, and with Shay Morrison back at defensive end the potential is there to be even better. Morrison was named a Deseret News first team all-stater in 2012 after racking up 107 tackles and four sacks.
On both sides of the ball, the experience is there to be competitive, and now it’s a matter of proving it between the lines.
“The kids know the offense and the defense 'cause a lot of them have played for two years. Now it’s just about making it efficient and making sure they’re crisp and running it perfect every time,” said Morrison.
Richfield Wildcats at a glance