ST. GEORGE Kevin Cuthbertson spent several years as an assistant coach at both Pine View and Dixie High Schools, all of which prepared him for his latest endeavor, starting traditions of his own at first-year school Desert Hills.
"It's extremely exciting, and it's a great challenge. I'm a lucky man to be where I'm at right now, to have the opportunity to work with this coaching staff and this administration. Without a doubt I'm very excited," said Cuthbertson.
The Desert Hills Thunder will compete in the 3A portion of Region 9 this year and don black and gold uniforms.
Cuthbertson has been preaching team unity since the future Desert Hills players began weight lifting at the local middle school back in January. It was during those winter workout sessions that the assembling coaching staff convinced itself that being a first-year school didn't necessarily mean the team had to be a bad football team in 2008.
"Younger doesn't mean less talented. We still have some amazing athletes, they're a little bit young and they have that learning curve, but they're still amazingly athletes," said Cuthbertson.
The Thunder is mostly comprised of underclassmen, but Cuthbertson confirmed there are 10 seniors on the team who opted to transfer to the new high school.
Cuthbertson wants his team to be a balanced offensive team this year, and he has the background to make it so. When he was at Pine View the team threw the ball the majority of the time, and then at Dixie most recently the focus was running the ball.
"We have a very strong family concept. The star is the team," said Cuthbertson. "Our offensive philosophy is we're going to spread the ball around, we're not going to rely on one person. We're going to rely on our entire team."
Despite the team concept, there are eight players Cuthbertson singled out as team leaders going back to winter weight lifting.
Among them are starting quarterback Chase Webster, along with running back Butch Hatch and fullback Berkeley. Hatch and Berkeley will also help anchor the defense at middle linebacker. In the trenches Deseret Hills will rely on Brad Roper and Quentin Owen.Steve Corry, Chris Rogers and Brennen Adams will also be important elements as Deseret Hills tries to make some noise in its first season.
Deseret Hills Thunder prep football preview
COACH: After spending several years as an assistant at Pine View and most recently Dixie, Kevin Cuthbertson is in his first season as a high school football head coach.
KEY PLAYERS: In Region 9, to have any hope of sneaking into the playoffs in year one the Thunder must be able to stop the run. Cedar should be a great running team as always, while Gordie Dotson is one of the best backs in the state. That's going to put a lot of pressure on players like nose guard Brad Roper, defensive tackle Quentin Owen and middle linebackers Butch Hatch and Berkeley Ward. If they learn from their many preseason games, they might be ready to make some noise in the final three region games of the year.
QUESTION MARK: For a first year school what isn't a question mark? Excitement shouldn't be a problem in year one, but very few of these players have ever played varsity football and it figures to be an eye-opener from week one. To the coaching staff's credit though, they scheduled some decent preseason games, including one against fellow first-year school Salem Hills in Week 2.
LAST YEAR: First-year school
PREDICTED REGION 9 (3A) FINISH: Fourth
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: First-year schools always struggle because of the limited amount of upperclassmen. Even though Desert Hills has about 10 seniors, it will likely struggle in year one and making the playoffs is unlikely.
Aug. 22 UINTAH, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Salem Hills, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 EMERY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Eldorado, Nev., 8 p.m.
Sept. 19 SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 Bye
Oct. 3 DIXIE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 CEDAR, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Canyon View, 7 p.m.Oct. 24 at Hurricane, 7 p.m.