High school football: Taylorsville Warriors 2014 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 16 2014 11:15 p.m. MDT

Taylorsville Warriors 2014 preview

Note: Taylorsville finished with a 6-4 overall record in 2013 and tied for first in Region 2 with a 4-1 record. It lost to Alta 49-21 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

The Taylorsville Warriors are hoping the 2014 season doesn’t prove to be two steps forward, one step back.

With the program perennially a cellar dweller over the previous decade, Rod Wells took over before the 2012 season and his team promptly went 1-9. In 2013, however, Taylorsville skyrocketed up the standings, winning Region 2 and compiling a 6-4 record. It had taken the previous six seasons combined to notch that many victories.

That squad was full of seniors, however, and Wells isn’t afraid to acknowledge that the Warriors will be starting over to a certain degree in 2014, even if he's a little nervous about how things might shake out. He returns just two starters on each side of the ball from last year.

“It’s definitely a rebuilding or a building year,” he said. “The nice thing is this is only our second year together as a staff. The things the staff’s been able to accomplish in a short time has helped us to move into that next phase where eventually we hope we’ll be like the Binghams and the Rivertons and the Davises that don’t rebuild, they reload. This building process we’re going through eventually we won’t have to talk about rebuilding. Maybe we can talk about just reloading ourselves. That’s the goal.”

Even though 2014 might bring some growing pains, Wells also insists that he doesn’t expect any less from his players than he did a year ago.

“We don’t ever want to slip back into that Taylorsville of old mode,” he said. “We want to compete in every game and do everything we can to try to continue to progress.”

Because of the youth on the team, the Warriors will depend on a tremendously talented trio of seniors on both sides of the ball to provide both production and leadership. Those players are To’a MauMau, Mufi Hunt and Matthew Sterzer.

MauMau will return for his second season under center in addition to playing safety on defense. As a junior last season, he was not only Taylorsville’s leading passer with 697 yards through the air, but he was tops on the team in rushing yards as well with 603 yards.

“Toa’s the most gifted athlete I’ve ever coached, and I’ve been around some gifted athletes,” Wells said. “He might even be the most gifted athlete I’ve ever been around, and I played with some gifted athletes at Utah. As far as speed and quickness and power, he’s the total package as far as what you want in a football player.”

Hunt certainly can’t be far behind on Wells’ list of most gifted athletes he’s coached. The 6-foot-6 senior transferred to Taylorsville from Brighton in the spring and is being recruited by schools in the Pac-12, SEC and Big 12, along with in-state schools.

He’ll likely play defensive end at the next level, but he’ll rove around the field on both sides of the ball for Wells, exploiting matchups as a defensive end, linebacker, wide receiver and tight end.

“Basically wherever Coach needs me, that’s where I’m gonna play,” Hunt said. “Anything I can do to help the team, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Then there’s Sterzer, the fullback and safety who Wells sees as “an extension of the coaches.”

“Matthew’s the vocal leader, but he also leads by example,” Wells said. “He’s the first one in the weight room, he sets the tone in drills. He’s a gifted athlete that outworks everybody. The thing that separates him is his work ethic.”

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