High school football: Big expectations for 2nd-year Corner Canyon in Region 7

Published: Monday, Aug. 11 2014 10:45 p.m. MDT

Olympus High's Coleman Meier, center, celebrates his game-winning touchdown with 1.8 seconds left on the clock during a football game against Springville at Springville High School in Springville on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. Olympus won 43-37.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

It sure didn’t take long for Corner Canyon — the offshoot school from former powerhouse Alta — to earn respect on the gridiron.

After earning a share of the Region 7 title and advancing to the 4A quarterfinals in its first-ever season last fall, Corner Canyon has been pegged by the league’s coaches as the clear-cut team to beat in 2014.

With 10 starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Chargers are eager to prove they’re the real deal after last season ended with a bitter taste following a 59-10 quarterfinal defeat to East.

“We are a lot more ready this year than we were last year. Our team has gotten a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot better, so we are definitely ready for this season,” said Corner Canyon quarterback Michael Ebeling. “We’re trying to contend for a state championship. That is definitely our No. 1 goal, and we’re going to be ready.”

Winning the region championship is the first goal, but even that won’t be easy. Olympus and Orem are just as confident after last year’s three-way region title split, while Skyline, Mountain View and Timpanogos are all under the direction of new head coaches and anxious to play the spoiler role.

Based on returning experience, Orem has a clear edge over Olympus, a reality Titans coach Aaron Whitehead doesn’t shy away from.

“I said last year that Corner Canyon would surprise some people and they did. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Orem and Corner Canyon make deep runs in state,” said Whitehead.

While Corner Canyon’s line-up is dotted with varsity experience at every position, Orem will be stout at quarterback and in the trenches. That experience helped the Tigers earn a piece of the league title, but it was upset in the 4A first round by Salem Hills.

Tyler Anderson is now in his fourth season as Orem’s head coach, and after two first-round exits and one quarterfinal exit the past three years, he’s optimistic this year’s team can take that next step.

“The Orem I knew and played for was the program everyone looked up to and I've been working hard here to get it back," Anderson said. "We're not quite there, but I think we're on the way and think we're going to have a real good team this year.

"That's the next step here and it's no secret. We have to get out of that first round and get to Rice-Eccles (Stadium.) I think we could do that this year if things work out right."

Olympus surprised many by getting to Rice-Eccles Stadium last year, but that team was dominated by seniors. This season the underclassmen may take some early lumps, but coach Aaron Whitehead has proved in his first three years at Olympus that he knows how to get the most of the talent he’s dealt. That wasn’t the case in previous regimes.

A year ago there was a marked drop off from Corner Canyon, Olympus and Orem to everybody else, but that gap could close with the quality coaches who’ve joined the region.

Louis Wong, who coached Timpview to a 77-10 record and four state championships from 2005 to 2011, takes over as Mountain View’s new head coach.

Joe Dupaix takes over the coaching job at Timpanogos, and brings instant credibility to the job. In addition to being the son of high school coaching legend Roger Dupiax, most recently he was the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for BYU.

Ironically enough, one of Dupaix’s former high school teammates is the other new head coach in the region. Justin Thompson who was two years younger than Dupaix at Skyline, takes over the head coaching job at his alma mater, something he’s extremely proud of.