Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SPRINGVILLE — Right about this time last year, then Springville first-year football coach Willy Child remembers joking around with his wife saying, "I gave up coaching baseball for this."
The Red Devils were 0-6, and were a far cry from the Springville teams of just a few years ago that made back-to-back 4A semifinal appearances.
Deep down, Child knew he and his coaching staff were laying the proper foundation and good things would eventually come.
“We knew last year we were young and it was going to take some time. It wasn’t easy,” said Child, whose team finished with a 2-8 record in 2012 and missed the playoffs.
Those struggles are paying dividends a year later.
Springville is off to a 4-0 start this season, and is certainly one of the surprising stories a month into the high school football season. The only other undefeated teams remaining in 4A are East, Logan, Roy and Olympus.
While the undefeated start is a surprise to many, it isn't to Child. Last year’s team was dominated by underclassmen, and those returning starters spent the offseason doing whatever was necessary to improve.
“The kids really started back in January, really bought into the weight room and getting stronger and working hard,” said Child. “Springville has a long tradition of being successful, and it had been a long time since we hadn’t made the playoffs, and the kids kind of had a bitter taste in their mouths. I definitely think it drove the kids to work hard.”
This year’s team isn’t just tougher physically, it’s stronger mentally. Early last season Springville found a way to lose close games, but this year it’s winning those close games. In Week 1 the Red Devils eked out a 21-20 win over Dixie and then in Week 2 it edged Corner Canyon 21-18.
The wins were a bit more convincing the past two weeks against Stansbury and Spanish Fork, and Child believes that's a sign his kids are learning how to win football games.
“We really feel the difference between this year and last year is we have seniors who are making plays in the fourth quarter that we need them to make,” said Child.
Springville has been outstanding at protecting the football this season with just one turnover in four games. The play of quarterback Dylan Slavens is a big reason why as he’s completed 59 percent of his passes for a 12-to-1 touchdown-to-turnover ratio.
Similar ball security is a must this Friday against 4A’s third-ranked Timpview (3-1).
The defending 4A champs are incredibly athletic on both sides of the ball and present all kinds of matchup problems for Springville.
“Our kids look forward to the opportunity. They’re a great team, and we know we’ve got to play a really good game,” said Child. “We know Timpview is one of the top teams in the state, so this week will tell us a lot about where we’re at.”
Win or lose, the program is already leaps and bounds ahead of last season, and a return to the playoffs seems like an inevitability.
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