I always tell them if you can compete, you have the opportunity to win. If you can’t compete, we don’t have that opportunity. —Cyprus High School football head caoch Scott Wooldridge
Note: Cyprus finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2013 and was sixth in Region 6 with a 1-5 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.
MAGNA — As the Cyprus football team prepares for the 2014 season, head coach Scott Wooldridge is putting an extra emphasis on the Pirates’ ability to compete.
“I always tell them,” the coach said, “’If you can compete, you have the opportunity to win. If you can’t compete, we don’t have that opportunity.’”
In a league with teams as dominant as those at the top of Region 6, learning to compete — both in game scenarios and away from the sport entirely — is a way to survive.
“This week we have ‘crew week’ — we’re Pirates, so we have crews — and each crew competes against each other in weightlifting and running and all kinds of drills,” Wooldridge said. “That’s what we’re trying to breed in them: compete. Compete on the field; compete in the weight room; compete in the classroom; and compete in life.
“Life, I think, is kind of a competition, so we’re trying to get them to understand you can’t just be where you’re at. Always try to be better.”
And in recent years, the Pirates have proved, even if only to themselves, that they can in fact compete.
“Last year, playing East, we proved we could play with them in the first quarter, honestly, because we had the lead,” Wooldridge said, referencing the game in which his team scored the first 14 points before ultimately losing 76-28.
“What it did for our kids was it proved that they can play. They can play with those teams,” he said. “Then our numbers got us. It’s a game of numbers in football. They (East) can platoon it somewhat. Ours, they’re going from offense to defense to special teams, all playing the same thing.”
This season, Cyprus has 30 players on its varsity roster. It is the lowest number Wooldridge has had in his three years at the school.
“My first year we had good numbers,” the coach said. “My second year we had good numbers. And then, this year, the numbers are a little down from what they have been.”
Part of that has to do with school size and natural growth cycles. Part of that has to do with bridging the gap between youth programs and the high school team. Part of that has to do with Wooldridge and his coaching staff working to mirror what highly successful teams in their region have done.
“We have our ninth-graders and sophomores playing together,” he said. “East and Highland and a lot of those schools have gone to their ninth-graders playing sophomore football and sophomores playing JV football. That’s where we’re trying to go, but it hasn’t quite caught on yet. It’s a building process.”
For the season at hand, the Pirates are focusing on utilizing their competitive edge, battling each game in a very deep region, and improving every day.
“They’re a good group. The kids we have work hard, and kids at Cyprus always work hard,” Wooldridge said. “They have an attitude that they want to compete. They won’t give up.”
Cyprus Pirates at a glance
Coach: Scott Wooldridge is entering his third season at the Cyprus head coach, where he has accumulated a career record of 8-12. Wooldridge is a graduate of Western Oregon University.
(7 returning starters; Pistol)
The Pirates retain a significant number of starters, which will allow the team to take greater steps forward this season. A.J. Semeatu, a senior all-purpose player, and Dallas Garreaud, a 6-foot-5 senior tight end, both step back into leadership roles, while Brandon Hatch will return to anchor the offensive line.
“(Garreaud is a) good player, getting stronger in the weight room. We expect a lot out of him,” Wooldridge said. “(Hatch has) played for us since the year before I got here. Those guys that were here before him took him under their wing and he’s just been building, getting stronger and stronger.”
Senior P.J. Lui will again take on running back duties and senior receiver Andre Orantes will look to junior quarterback Hunter Jacketta, who is new to the role at the varsity level.
“He’s behind a younger line, so he’s going to take some licks this year,” the coach said with a smile. “Of course, as a JV player, he took his licks too. He’s been working hard all offseason. He’s had some good success.”
(8 returning starters)
In addition to duties on offense, many of the Pirates’ starters will take on vital roles on defense as well. Semeatu is a returning safety; Garreaud will play defensive end this season; Lui is the team’s middle linebacker; Orantes is the Pirates’ corner; and Hatch will also anchor the defensive line.
Wooldridge said that although the numbers have not yet shown it, he has seen great improvement in his defense’s play both during last season and throughout offseason work.
“We’ve got a pretty good defense, they’re getting a lot better,” he said. “We tell them, ‘Be a junkyard dog.’ We may not be bigger than anybody, but we better be more aggressive and we better fly around.”
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: Sixth
Deseret News Region 6 predictions: Seventh
The Pirates are looking at an uphill climb in a region as deep as theirs. The goal against such talented teams, and especially with drastically smaller numbers, is to focus on competing each game, each quarter, each play. If Cyprus can focus on small victories, the larger ones will follow.
Cyprus coaching history
2012-current — Scott Wooldridge (8-12)
2009-2011 — Brian Jacketta (4-25)
2000-2008 — Sonny Sudbury (45-52)
1995-1999 — Dave Peck (20-30)
1986-1994 — Jerry Simonson (34-53)
1979-1985 — Billy Hunter (33-33)
1975-1978 — Don Conrad (17-20)
1973-1974 — Tom Crittenden (5-11)
1966-1972 — Glen Rupp (28-37)
1961-1965 — Howard Condie (14-28)
1953-1960 — Lex McKee (26-39)
1948-1952 — Roy Mercer (31-12)
1945-1947 — Unknown (13-8)
1944 — Bill Cowley (7-1)Comment on this story
1942-1943 — Unknown (5-8)
1941 — Gus Papanikolas (1-6)
1940 — Ronald Sleator (1-6)
1931-1939 — Russell Magleby (23-37)
1930 — Glen Worthington (3-3)
1927-1929 — Unknown (5-10)
1926 — Mr. Walker (5-2)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2005 — Henna Brown, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
High school football: Cyprus Pirates 2014 preview
Dallas Garreaud anticipates the 2014 Cyprus football season.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.