High school football: Union Cougars 2012 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

Jayde Bertoch (James Edward) Jayde Bertoch (James Edward)

Scroll to bottom of story to see Union Felt's Facts

Note: Union finished with an 0-10 overall record and was last in Region 10 with an 0-5 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the 3A playoffs.

ROOSEVELT — Last season was sure a forgettable one for the Union Cougars football program.

Actually, in retrospect, the Cougar faithful could easily do without the last several years.

In 2011, Union was outscored 358-90 and even more harshly outplayed in region —only managing 29 points in five games.

Dating back to 2009, the Cougars are 5-25 on the gridiron. But, those hard times aren’t far removed from a successful season in 2007 that culminated with a trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium in the 3A semifinals.

So hope is not completely lost and first-year coach Matt Labrum is looking to prove that his alma mater can compete once again.

“We can bring back the excitement and fun of playing football,” said Labrum, who left his position at Parowan to return home. “Hopefully coming back and showing there’s pride here at Union High school and there’s (college) opportunities to go outside of Union High school.”

Labrum feels athletes participating in other sports for Union need to strap on pads and buckle chin straps for his football program to be able to be successful.

“I think we just need to go out and let kids know that we want them out here,” he explained. “We as coaches work together, making sure that we’re not over committing the athletes to one sport. As small as we are we need to be able to share athletes to play multiple sports.”

The strategy has already started to take effect. The involvement in summer camps and conditioning sessions has increased dramatically.

“We’ve been in the weight room four days a week. The kids have responded well to that,” Labrum said. “We’re getting 40-50 kids there a day. We had our own little team camp, which was successful.”

This season, Union not only expects to take the first hammer of destruction to the established culture of losing — it also hopes to create an atmosphere where other teams will remember the night they played the Cougars.

“We expect to go in and give everybody the toughest game that they’ve had,” Labrum said. “They’ll know that they played a Union football team when they left. I hope that we can let people know that we’re here to play football. We’re going to compete every down and every night.”

Union Cougars at a glance

Coach: Matt Labrum is entering his first season as the coach of his alma mater. In five years of head-coaching experience he’s accumulated a career record of 17-35.


(Pro-set offense)

The Cougars are switching to a pro-set scheme under Labrum. The main focus is establishing a rushing game that can create opportunities to beat creeping defenses over the top with play-action.

Quarterback Jayde Bertoch again will orchestrate the huddle this season. With more attention directed on the ground, his interception total of last year (10) should decrease.


(Base 4-3 defense)

Labrum described his defensive philosophies as “aggressive.” He might have the weapons for that mentality to be relatively effective.

Defensive end George Kaufusi will pace the line of scrimmage. Last year, he tallied 51 tackles.

Team captain Steven Welsh is arguably the Cougars' biggest threat. At linebacker he recorded 84 tackles as a junior.

For a defensive unit that surrendered nearly 36 points per game in 2011, the only direction is up.

Coaches Region 10 straw poll: Sixth

Deseret News Region 10 prediction: Sixth

Bottom line: Union certainly should snap its winless streak. It has the easiest schedule in the state and should take advantage of it. Its preseason opponents (Ben Lomond, North Sanpete, Tooele, Carbon and Payson) combined for an overall record of 13-46. The Cougars don’t play a team with a winning record last year until the sixth game. In total, it only plays three teams in 2012 that were over .500 last season. This team is still a long distance away from being competitive on the football field, but it’s moving in the right direction.

2012 Schedule

Aug. 17 ­ — BEN LOMOND, 7 p.m.

Aug. 24 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 — at Tooele, 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 — at Carbon, 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 — PAYSON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 — PARK CITY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 — at Judge Memorial, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — WASATCH, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17 — at Uintah, 7 p.m.


Felt’s Facts for Union High School

All-time record: 234-311 (61 years)

Region championships: 11 (1951, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 2000 co, 2005 co, 2007 co)

Playoff appearances: 28

All-time playoff record: 13-26

State championships: 2 (1965, 1993)

State championship record: 2-0

Most played rivalry: 71 meetings with Uintah dating back to 1951. Union leads 36-34-1. Meet on Oct. 18.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Jack Hannum directed Union to its first state championship in 1965 and became one of just eight coaches to win a state title with a perfect record (10-0) his first season. ... Cougar J.J. Morley is one of just 12 players to return a kickoff 99 yards in a state tournament game (2010 first round).

Union coaching history

2012 — Matt Labrum

2008-2011 — Sam Elliott (10-30)

2007 — Doug Bills (9-4)

2004-2006 — Phil Bertoch (15-14)

2001-2003 — Greg Hoagland (11-18)

2000 — Merlin Rasmussen (6-4)

1990-1999 — Don Busenbark (40-55)

1987-1989 — Paul Maggio (10-16)

1983-1986 — Lee Merrett (21-15)

1979-1982 — Jay Omer (13-23)

1978 — Jerry Dyer (4-5)

1976-1977 — Jay Omer (1-16)

1974-1975 — Alan Raddon (3-15)

1971-1973 — Hal Richardson (13-13-3)

1969-1970 — Gale Anderson (10-8)

1967-1968 — Unknown (11-7-2)

1965-1966 — Jack Hannum (16-3-2)

1963-1964 — Scott Edrington (2-14-1)

1962 — Bruce Parry (6-1-1)

1958-1961 — Kenneth Benson (5-25-2)

1956-1957 — Ted Heath (8-8-1)

1954-1955 — Sark Arslanian (11-4)

1951-1953 — Eldon Wright (9-13-2)


Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2007 — Rhen Richard, QB

2007 — David Gilbert, WR

2007 — Casey Glines, WR

2005 — Chris Carter, OL

2004 — Jason Nelson, DB

2002 — Cody Haslem, DB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out theDeseret News All-State Archives.

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