Note: Cottonwood finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2013 and was third in Region 2 with a 3-2 record. It lost to Brighton 42-15 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s kind of hard for Cottonwood’s Malu Hosea to believe he’s about to embark on his senior year. Coming to the school as a freshman to lift weights seems like just yesterday to the running back, and stepping out onto the field now feels the same as the first time he did it.
The Colts’ program has been through its share of turmoil and tough times during Hosea’s prep career, the most notorious of which were two separate incidents that led to upheaval on the coaching staff during Hosea’s sophomore year.
Injuries have hit Cottonwood hard as well, and the team has been mired in mediocrity despite having a good contingent of Division I talent.
Hosea feels that with things more stable now, the focus can be entirely on the team getting better, and not on outside distractions.
“We’re trying, and right now I think we’re at a pretty good level where we used to be at,” he said. “Yeah, there’s still a few things that we’re missing, but I mean, we’re doing our best to get back to where we were and I feel like we’re almost there. Just a few more fixes and we’ll be good.”
Among those fixes, Hosea lists knowing how to work together, always remembering why they play the game, and motivation among the senior players to take the lead in everything the team does.
“Pretty much all I just want to see is a bond between our team,” he said. “If we really find that, then everything will find its place. There’s nothing else to it. If you have a family between your team, then the wins will come, everything else will come, the stats. That’s really all that matters, is just to find a bond and connect.”
Senior quarterback Cole Dipietro feels similarly, saying that keeping composure during hard times is something he wants to see improve from seasons past.
“I think this year our team’s a lot closer,” Dipietro said. “In years past there’s been separations of groups. I think this year we’re all one. I love everybody on this team. I want to have everybody’s back. They’ll have mine.”
In terms of personnel, the Colts will again have some seniors who will look to make noise on the collegiate level once their prep days are over. T.J. Fehoko is already committed to play at Colorado next fall, and will lead Cottonwood on the defensive line and may see some time at linebacker. He’ll play fullback on offense.
“He’s one of the premiere players in the state, if not the country,” said Colts head coach Greg Croshaw. “You hate to give too much expectation, but he’s certainly met everything and been able to handle it so far. If he stays healthy, obviously he should be as good as there is around. He’s a great asset to have, there’s no question about that.”
Then there’s Hosea, who set a school record last season by rushing for 327 yards one night against Granger. He’s being looked at by some Pac-12 and SEC schools and will also play on defense as a sort of hybrid linebacker and defensive back.
Those two, along with junior tight end Fua Pututau, will make life easier for Dipietro, who will step into the starting QB role after last year’s main signal-caller, Tevita Gerber, decided to quit football and turn his attention to baseball. Croshaw will be looking to employ elements of the spread offense, but recognizes that Dipietro is as much a weapon with his feet as he is with his arm — if not more so.
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