I think quarterback is going to be the toughest position to replace. We’re going to try, though, and we think we have two promising players competing there. —Cary Whittingham, Timpview head football coach
PROVO — Expectations for Timpview typically run high for 2013, but players and coaches wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the heels of yet another 4A state championship, the Thunderbirds are again pegged as one of the favorites to win it all, again, in 2013.
Some players would prefer to shrink away from and downplay lofty expectations, but at Timpview, it’s all but impossible given the team’s rich history.
“I love it and I believe we thrive off of it,” said receiver Britain Covey. “I believe having all those expectations motivates us to work harder. It’s part of being here at Timpview, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In order to repeat, the Thunderbirds must replace some key parts on offense and on defense. Gone are standouts such as quarterback Jake Lloyd, receiver Dax Raymond and linebacker Pita Taumoepenu.
“I think quarterback is going to be the toughest position to replace,” said coach Cary Whittingham. “Jake was so good for us, and I don’t know if you can replace all the experience and leadership he brought to the position. We’re going to try, though, and we think we have two promising players competing there.”
Those two players are junior Isaiah Holloway and senior Preston Brown. Holloway offers a combo-style quarterback who can both run and throw the ball effectively while Brown is your classic drop-back type of signal-caller.
“It’s a good competition and we don’t know yet exactly who will play and how much, but we feel good about both players,” Whittingham said. “I think we may rotate them starting out the year, unless one of them separates themselves the final week of practice before our first game.”
At receiver the team looks well-stocked with Covey and senior Rhett Van Leeuwen expected to lead the way.
“Losing Dax Raymond was a big loss, but we have some good guys that can replace him and take some pressure off the quarterback,” Whittingham said.
The key will be replacing an offensive front that lost almost every starter from last season.
“We have the potential to be good on offense again this year, but we definitely need that offensive line to come together and step up,” Whittingham said. “I know that everyone thinks we’ll be all about defense this year, and we do look very good there, but I believe this offense could definitely be very good even though we lost our offensive coordinator there.”
As for the defense, the Thunderbirds look stacked. They return six key starters from last season and add the talents of Isaiah Nacua, who moved in from Las Vegas over the offseason. Early indications are that Nacua might be the most talented defensive end to play for Timpview since Bronson Kaufusi.
“He’s a very talented player and someone who will help us out a lot this season,” Whittingham said. “Our line should be very solid, but I really don’t think you can take one position on our defense and say it’s the strength. I believe we’ll be strong at linebacker and defensive back as well, so that’s obviously a very good thing.”
Defensive leaders include defensive lineman Gabe Reid and linebackers Max Anae and Pio Stowers, along with defensive back Emmett Tela.
“I don’t know if there’s any one guy you can pinpoint as a standout guy on defense, but if I had to point out anyone, it would be Emmett,” Whittingham said. “He played linebacker for us last year but will be a real good safety, and he’s really a team leader and someone we expect big things from.”
Timpview is again expected to run through Region 8 and make a strong big for another state championship.
"We feel good about our chances, but every year it's something new and there's always new challenges," Whittingham said. "You can't rest on what you did last year, but realize this year — the team's different and we won't have some of the key things we did last year, but might after some new strengths."
Timpview Thunderbirds at a glance
Coach: Cary Whittingham is entering his second year as Timpview’s head coach after serving nine years as an assistant. He’s the brother of Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham and, like his brother, comes from a defensive-coordinating background.
(Various formations; 3 returning starters)
The Thunderbirds have a lot to replace on offense, but good existing depth within the program should suffice. As mentioned, the offensive line will undergo a bit of an overhaul, as will the running back and quarterback positions.
"We have a lot of confidence in both Isaiah (Holloway) and Preston (Brown) to get us the ball and to be great quarterbacks," Covey said. "At running back we'll have Kendall Tu'ua and Porter Case, and we have great offensive line coaches, so I think we'll be solid at every position.
(4-3; 6 returning starters)
As mentioned, Timpview is poised to have a completely dominant defense — perhaps the best it's fielded since 2007. That year it was players such as Craig Bills and Chris Badger leading the way at defensive back. This year, with players like Reid and Nacua, the defensive ends could be taking the lead.
"I think our defensive ends are very good, but like I said, I don't think you can take just one position group on defense and label them as the strength," Whittingham said. "I think all 11 guys who start could be considered a strength, and that's a strength in itself."
Coach’s preseason Region 8 straw poll: First
Deseret News Region 8 prediction: First
Bottom line: Timpview lost a lot from last year, but considering the existing depth within the program, it shouldn't be a problem to replace them. Defensively the team is stacked, and opponents will have a tough time scoring in double-figures. Subsequently the Thunderbirds should romp through Region 8 and make it to at least the state semifinals, and could likely repeat as state champions.
Timpview coaching history
2012 — Cary Whittingham (9-5)
2005-2011 — Louis Wong (77-10)
1990-2004 — Chad Van Orden (134-38)
1985-1989 — Garry Walker (30-24)
1982-1984 — Sam Hard (15-13)
1977-1981 — Paul Gillespie (25-23)
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
2008 — Craig Bills, DB
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2012 — Jake Lloyd, QB
2009 — Ofa Latu, LB
2008 — Xavier Su'a-Filo
2007 — Dominique Moe, LB
2006 — Jackson Owen, RB
2004 — Stephen Covey, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Dax Raymond, WR
2012 — Pita Taumoepenu, DL
2011 — Rickey Shumway, WR
2011 — Josh Burr, LB
2010 — Christian Covey, QB
2010 — Kalvin Cusick, OL
2010 — Colby Jorgensen, DL
2009 — Trevor Brown, QB
2009 — Tyson Tiatia, OL
2009 — Chris Badger, DB
2008 — Casey Rumsey, QB
2008 — Travis VanLeeuwen, WR
2008 — Bronson Kaufusi, DL
2008 — Jason Whittingham, LB
2008 — Chris Badger, DB
2007 — Quinn Mecham
2007 — Mark Ercanbrack, WR
2007 — Tui Crighton, OL
2007 — Craig Bills, DB
2007 — Xavier Su'a-Filo, OL1 comment on this story
2007 — Kevin Bills, LB
2007 — Bronson Kaufusi, DL
2006 — Houston Reynolds, OL
2006 — Kevin Bills, DL
2006 — Devin Mausia, LB
2006 — Craig Bills, DB
2005 — Houston Reynolds, OL
2005 — Preston Phillips, LB
2005 — David Jackson, K
2004 — Harvey Unga, RB
2004 — Luke Ashworth, WR
2004 — Matt Reynolds, OL
2004 — Greg Atkinson, LB
2003 — Stephen Covey, QB
2003 — Matt Reynolds, DL
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.