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Riley Pentico

HURRICANE — On paper, the Hurricane Tigers look like an excellent football team heading into the 2008 season.

On paper, at least according to coach Chris Homer, the team should be able to compete against everybody on the schedule.

Lastly, on paper, this Hurricane team compares favorably to the 2005 team that advanced to the 3A state semifinals with a 12-0 record before falling to Logan.

Only time will tell if it translates into success.

"I feel like we have a good program now," said Homer. "Ninety-five percent of the kids lifted at least 18 times this summer. I feel like we're on the right track."

Much of the optimism is largely due to last year's seniors, or lack thereof. Only 13 seniors were on the 2007 squad, forcing Homer to start a ton of underclassmen. As a result, there are 10 returning starters on offense and six on defense this year.

"Last year we knew it was going to be a down year with only 13 seniors, and none of them really impact players," said Homer. "You never hope for a season like that, but it should pay off for us."

It should particularly pay off on offense. Gordie Dotson is back for his senior season after rushing for over 1,200 yards as a sophomore and over 1,600 yards as a junior.

In Hurricane's Wing-T offense, Homer believes Dotson could challenge for the statewide rushing title.

"Gordie's going to be a special back this year if he stays healthy. The thing that helps this year that we didn't have last year is balance. We should be able to pass. We should be able to run," said Homer.

The presence of Zach Sorenson should help as well. Just a junior, he's a pure athlete who will punish opposing defenses on the outside for committing too many bodies to stopping Dotson in the middle.

Returning first-team all-stater Ryan Butler will open up plenty of holes for Dotson, Sorenson and returning starting quarterback Jase Langston.

"He's a kid that just does his job. He goes to the whistle," said Homer.

As good as the offense figures to be, the defense is more of a work in progress. Homer wants to limit the number of kids who play both ways, with many of those unproven players getting nod defensively. There's still talent though. Dotson and Butler will be two-way starters, while Riley Pentico and Ian Gates are solid middle linebackers and Gary Bracken is a returning second-team all-stater and a fantastic cover corner.

HURRIANE TIGERS PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW

COACH: Chris Homer has worked extremely hard the past six years to establish a winning program at Hurricane. With nearly 120 kids out this year, he believes the hard work is starting to pay off.

KEY PLAYERS: Gordie Dotson has the potential to rush for close to 2,000 yards this year if things go well for the Tigers. He'll need help from returning starters on the offensive line like Ryan Butler, Justin Edwards and Riley Pentico, but the potential is definitely there. Junior middle linebacker Ian Gates is an up-and-coming star for Hurricane, a player coach Homer says has an incredible understanding of the game.

QUESTION MARK: There aren't many question marks, but there is a little bit of uncertainty on defense. Even though the Tigers have some key returning starters, there are holes to fill and how well they get filled will determine whether they win five games in the regular season or potentially eight or nine.

LAST YEAR: 3-8, lost to Delta in the first round.

PREDICTED REGION 9 (3A) FINISH: First.

POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: At minimum this team should advance to the 3A quarterfinals, if not make a run to Rice-Eccles Stadium and perhaps claim the 3A state title.

2008 SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 — at Millard, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — vs. Show Low, Ariz. (At Snow Canyon), 2 p.m.

Sept. 5 — at Moapa Valley, Nev., 8 p.m.

Sept. 12 — at at Virgin Valley, Nev., 8 p.m.

Sept. 19 — PARK CITY, 7 p.m.

Sept. 26 — at Pine View, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3 — at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — CANYON VIEW, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 — at Cedar, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 — DESERT HILLS, 7 p.m.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com