Note: Wasatch finished with a 4-6 overall record in 2013 and tied for fifth in Region 8 with a 2-4 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
HEBER CITY — At the end of the day, Wasatch just wasn’t good enough.
Coach Steve Coburn did everything imaginable to prepare his players for the jump to 4A last season — weights, conditioning, camps, seven-on-sevens — but they were simply in over their heads.
Among the most noteworthy struggles were a 35-0 loss to eventual 4A champ Timpview, a 48-28 loss to Spanish Fork and a 41-22 loss to Springville. Of the four 4A teams the Wasps did beat, their combined record was only 7-33.
As frustrating as it was at the time, Coburn knows it was a necessary evil.
“It just takes time to catch up to the size and speed of a new classification,” said Coburn, who believes his players are bigger and stronger this season and more equipped for the grind in Region 8.
The next step is consistency. It eluded the Wasps many times last year, and throughout the summer at three different seven-on-seven camps as well.
“We’ve got to be more consistent. And that’s what’s been good playing in these seven-on-sevens. We’ll play at a real high level and then we’ll play at a low level, and we’ve just got to be consistent playing at a high level all the time,” said Coburn.
Defensively, a secondary that was pretty bad last year needs to make some plays and help the offense out with some short fields.
Offensively, the running game needs to be more explosive because it was pretty anemic a year ago. As a team last year the Wasps rushed for 990 yards in 10 games. Four different running backs alone in 4A had a better yards-per-game average than the entire Wasatch team.
“We had some good kids who were tough, but they weren’t fast and didn’t break a lot of yards. If we had got to 1,000 yards I would’ve been happy,” said Coburn.
Junior Matt Tate could change all that this year. He only had 13 carries as a sophomore last year, but Wasatch will try and feed him the ball a ton in 2014.
Tate was on Wasatch’s state championship relay team his freshman year, and that speed will add a different dimension offensively.
“Our line is much improved now. I think they can handle the guys we play against now,” said Coburn.
That will help junior QB Garrett Davis as well. An injury thrust him into the starting lineup in Wasatch’s last four region games last year, but he begins this year as the unquestioned starter.
Davis is the younger brother of Payton Davis, an all-state quarterback for Wasatch in 2009 who racked up 3,948 yards of total offense.
Garrett Davis is bigger than his older brother and is quarterbacking a different type of offense, but he’s just as capable of great things if he gets support from the running game.
Defensively, Wasatch needs to be better at stopping the run and pass. Despite the early-summer departure of defensive coordinator Rick Wilson — who took the North Sanpete head coaching job — all signs point to that happening.
Coburn is taking over as defensive coordinator and is simplifying everything for his players so they can just react and make plays.
That’s the bottom line at Wasatch this year — make the plays it couldn’t make last year.