Note: Cedar finished with a 5-7 overall record in 2013 and was fifth in 3AA South with a 2-4 record. It lost to Dixie 45-14 in the 3AA quarterfinals.
CEDAR CITY — Something odd happened the past two years at Cedar High — the offense vanished.
Cedar only averaged 18.3 ppg last season, and the year before averaged just 18.4 in a stunning 1-8 campaign. The three previous seasons Cedar averaged 29.8, 32.3 and 27.1, respectively.
What can explain the drastic drop-off? The team ran the same offense all five seasons, and it’s been running it for decades. A lack of experience might explain some of the troubles, but regardless, it’s something Cedar coach Todd Peacock is focused on heading into the 2014 season.
“We’ve been really poor on offense the last two years, so we’ve really emphasized execution,” said Peacock.
There are several reasons to believe this season will be different. First, there’s a legitimate camaraderie on this team.
“It’s a group that’s been together for a long time. They just really like each other. They’re really together. They all have a common goal and cheer for each other,” said Peacock.
That group also has a ton of varsity experience with eight returning starters on offense and six on defense, including four two-way starters.
The combination of the two has the always-steady Peacock excited for what lies ahead.
“I think we have more experience than we’ve had in a while, so that’s a good thing. I think we have a chance to be good,” he said.
As always, his team lacks size, but this year Cedar has above-average speed. It’s not the same speed that Pine View or Snow Canyon possesses, but it’s still enough to be dangerous.
That speed should not only help Cedar’s offense, but help its defense too.
In a pair of losses to Dixie last season in which Cedar surrendered 40-plus points each time, the Redmen got torched in the secondary as Dixie QB Ammon Takau threw for seven touchdowns.
This year the secondary has more overall speed, and the defensive front should be able to get more pressure on the QB with improved quickness as well.
It will need that quickness to overcome the collective size of the rest of 3AA South. It’s not something Cedar is afraid of, though.
“I think our kids really like to battle them. We play them in all sports, we want to play them, we think we can beat them,” said Peacock.
Offensively, with its plethora of skill position players, there’s a genuine buzz that Cedar can compete with anybody.
Peacock joked that his biggest concern is getting everyone enough touches.
Brecken Lewis is a returning starter at quarterback, but he will get serious competition from a sophomore. Mason Fakahua might be the fastest player on the team, and he throws the ball well too. Peacock will try and get him experience early in the season to take full advantage of his ability down the stretch in region.
“He’s a real talent. He just lacks experience right now,” said Peacock.
Cedar has two talented fullbacks to choose from as well. Junior Brock Oldroyd emerged as the team’s top fullback late last season, but ended up breaking his ankle in the region finale against Payson. He rushed for 246 yards and five touchdowns on 48 carries.
Senior Landon Barrick has enjoyed a great summer and can play fullback or tailback. Dallin Grover led Cedar in rushing last season, and he’s back as well.
Two other weapons Cedar will try and get the ball to are receivers Jeff Rogers and Austin Obering. Peacock said he plans on lining them up in slot running back positions whenever possible to get them involved in the offense as often as possible.
The big key will be staying healthy. Peacock likes his collection of offensive linemen, but there’s not a lot of depth.
“An injury or two could really affect us,” he said.
If they don’t get hit seriously by injuries, Cedar’s offense should be back to its normal explosive ways.
Cedar Redmen at a glance
Coach: Todd Peacock is entering his 24th year as Cedar’s head coach and his 28th overall, having spent three years at North Sanpete and one at East Carbon. He is 137-117-1 at Cedar and 159-132-1 overall. He’s a graduate of Emery High.
(8 returning starters; Option offense)
Despite the struggles from a year ago, there’s optimism for a bounce-back season with a bunch of returning experience. Dallen Jacoby and Koalman Kimber are returning starters on the offensive line, with Dallin Brooks expected to start there as well after starting at linebacker the past two years. There’s experience at all the other offensive positions, including QB Brecken Lewis, who will also be a three-year starter at linebacker. Fullback Brock Oldroyd could have a monster season if he stays healthy. He broke his ankle in the final game of the regular season last year.
(8 returning starters)
Three of Cedar’s leading four tacklers from a year ago return, including defensive lineman Jacoby. He's someone who big things are expected from. The linebacking corps will be really strong with Brooks, Lewis and Dallin Grover all returning. The emergence of Landon Barrick at linebacker might allow Lewis to shift to safety so he stays a little fresher for his QB duties. Jeff Rogers is a returning starter at safety, while Austin Obering will be a three-year starter at cornerback.
Coaches preseason 3AA South straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News 3AA South prediction: Sixth
Bottom line: It’s hard to believe, but Cedar hasn’t had a winning season since going 9-2 in 2010. Even the semifinal team in 2011 only had a 6-6 record thanks to an 0-4 start. This year’s team is a long shot to win a region title, but there’s enough talent to expect Cedar to be in the hunt most Friday nights. If it can squeak a few victories out — including its winnable games at home — a top-four finish in region is certainly realistic.
Cedar coaching history
1991-current — Todd Peacock (144-110)
1986-1990 — Kit Janes (19-31)
1980-1985 — Dave Jensen (43-18)
1977-1979 — Jim Dalton (10-18)
1974-1976 — Jack Bishop (12-14)
1971-1973 — John Pensis (14-21)
1970 — Jim Marshall (2-6)
1967-1969 — Unknown
1966 — Jack Sawyers (4-3)
1956-1965 — Harold Norton (49-30)
1952-1955 — Glen Jackson (26-6)
1937-1950 — Unknown
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2013 — Kole Dotson, OL
2011 — John Ursua, QB
2011 — Kahi Eldredge, OL
2010 — Matt Grover, RB
2010 — Connor Ottenbacher, OL
2009 — Jackson Carter, DB/QB
2009 — Jesse Woods, DL
2008 — Ryan Decker, DL
2008 — Trent Grover, LB
2007 — Dylan Fox, LB
2007 — Spencer Montgomery, OL
2007 — Logan Obering, DB
2006 — Todd Whitney, LB
2004 — Kaylon Pickett, DL
2004 — Jordan Wood, DB
2004 — Joe West, SP
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.