It's been a long time since Richfield has been considered a bona fide contender in the Class 2A football world. But, after putting together a memorable season in 2007, the Wildcats find themselves one step closer to becoming a type of team that must be reckoned with annually.
Richfield finished with a winning record for the first time since 1993 and won a playoff game for the first time since 1991. With several key players returning from the team, expectations are high that this new season can be even better than the previous one.
"The kids have some confidence and know that they can play with anybody if they go out and play (good) football," first year Wildcat coach Corey Morrison said.
Morrison is feeling liberal doses of confidence himself, primarily because he will be able to make use of many wheels that turned the Richfield offense a unit, which averaged 28.6 points per game last fall.
Senior quarterback Travis Tuttle is coming off a season where he passed for 1160 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 47 percent of his passes. Zach Cropper, another senior, will anchor the running game again after piling up 622 yards and eight touchdowns on 109 carries in the backfield a year ago.
Tuttle should have plenty of targets downfield too. J.D. Michaelsen had 553 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. Joining him is Trent Nielson, a player who Morrison anticipates will have a breakout season at receiver.
With so many experienced players on offense, Morrison thinks that things should flow smoothly on that side of the ball which, in turn, should make getting victories a routine act.
"That's important for us," Morrison said. "They come onto the field with the experience we need to be successful."
Defensively, the Wildcats will look to replace standout linebacker Stetson Laws. Laws ended the regular season a year ago as both the team leader in tackles and sacks. Michaelsen, who led the team in interceptions, and Tyler Tuttle could be difference-makers on that side of the ball.
Morrison doesn't expect to see much drop off from a unit that held opponents to 20.6 points per game in 2007."On both sides of the ball, we should be all right," Morrison said.
RICHFIELD WILDCATS 2008 PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW
COACH: Corey Morrison makes his debut at the helm for the Wildcats. With the talent he has at his disposal, there's no reason to think his first year won't be a successful one.
KEY PLAYERS: Richfield definitely has strength at the skill positions with Travis Tuttle (QB), Zach Cropper (RB) and J.D. Michaelsen (WR) all back for another season. Morrison also expects strong seasons from Trent Nielson (WR), Tyson Barrow (OL/DL) and Tayson Whittaker (OL/DL).
QUESTION MARK: The Wildcats have plenty of weapons to get the offense points. How effective will those weapons be behind an inexperienced line? Some younger players will be counted on to help fill holes up front.
LAST YEAR: 6-5, lost in 2A quarterfinals.
PREDICTED 2A SOUTH FINISH: Tied for third.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Richfield is fresh off its most successful season in more than a decade and there's no reason to not expect even better results in '08. A quarterfinal win is not out of the realm of reality if Cropper and Tuttle remain healthy and the offensive line can mature quickly.
Aug 22 at Manti, 7 p.m.
Aug 29 Juab, 7 p.m.
Sept 5 at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
Sept 12 Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Sept 19 San Juan, 7 p.m.
Sept 26 at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Oct 3 Grand, 7 p.m.
Oct 10 Millard, 7 p.m.Oct 16 at Beaver, 7 p.m.