Note: Parowan finished with a 6-5 overall record in 2013 and tied for fifth in 2A South with a 2-4 record. It lost to Beaver 36-10 in the 2A quarterfinals.
PAROWAN — Not all wins are created equal. They all count in the standings the same, but they’re labeled many different ways — easy victory, blowout victory, upset victory, marquee victory.
Parowan had six wins in the 2013 season, but none fell into the latter two categories.
The Rams did well to beat the teams they matched up with best on the schedule — Milford, Diamond Ranch, North Sevier, South Sevier, American Leadership and Layton Christian — but when they had to face 2A’s big dogs, it wasn’t pretty.
In five combined losses to Beaver, Enterprise, San Juan, Grand and Beaver again in the playoffs, Parowan was outscored 170-24.
When coach Brigham Nielsen evaluated the season afterward, it became clear that Parowan just wasn’t strong enough to compete with the upper-echelon teams in 2A.
He did some research on ways to get kids to buy into the weight room, and finally settled on his version of the iron man.
In a nutshell, “They have to take a test to get a jersey,” said Nielsen.
It’s not quite as cut and dry as that. Kids who don’t pass the initial iron man test aren’t cut from the team, but those who don’t probably won’t start, get the reps they want, or play the positions they want. It’s had a dramatic impact this summer for Parowan.
“I’ve had 60 percent attendance every day in the weight room. It’s a night-and-day difference for us,” said Nielsen. “I don’t have to yell at them to get in the weight room. They want to pass the test so they get in there themselves.”
Parowan’s version of the iron man requires the athletes to achieve a certain point quota, and they get points from various lifts in the weight room, mile run, push-ups, etc.
The weight room buy-in has Nielsen excited for this third year as head coach. In his first year in 2012, Parowan went 1-8, with that only win coming against Cedar’s JV squad. Last year his team went 6-5, and regardless of the quality of the victory each one built confidence for a program desperate for it.
In 2014 Nielsen is stressing with his players that anything is possible.
“The goal is definitely the region championship, and it’s more than that, we want to play in the state game on Nov. 14. I’m not trying to be cocky, that’s the goal. That’s where you want to be. It’s why you play the game,” he said.
“I think we have the ability to do that. It’s going to take some work, it’s going to take some growth. We’re not there today, but we hope to be there come Nov. 14.”
A big reason for the optimism is experience.
In Nielsen’s first year Parowan ran the triple-option offense, but he scraped it last year for the spread offense. The seven offensive starters who return this year all have a year of experience running the offense and should be ready to roll right away. No more three-game shutout streaks.
“It’s amazing how much faster the juniors and seniors have been moving,” said Nielsen.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t big question marks.
Despite an abundance of experience returning on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, Parowan’s new quarterback has never taken a varsity snap. Nielsen believes junior Brenen Rowley will be just fine, though.