CEDAR CITY In 21 years of coaching high school football, Cedar's Todd Peacock has developed a pretty good understanding of knowing what to expect from an upcoming season.
"The best teams I've ever had are teams that have a lot of returning varsity experience," said Peacock.
His theory might not apply this year though. Even though Cedar only returns a handful of starters, Cedar's JV team is coming off a great 2007 season and those players are now poised to make a big impact at the varsity level.
"I really liked our JV team, and I really liked the way they won them," said Peacock. "A lot of them, they beat teams that seemed better than us. That was encouraging that our team did that."
Peacock will find out right away if JV success translates to varsity success when Cedar opens the season against Bear River and Millard in the first two weeks.
The biggest question mark going into the season is in the trenches. Peacock loves what he has at the skill positions offensively, but it's the unproven lineman doing the blocking that he's concerned about. It's not that he doubts their skill, it's just that their inexperience is a problem.
If things come together on the line, a couple of running backs could have monster seasons in the wishbone offense. Fullback Trent Grover is coming off an 800-yard season as a junior, and he's the perfect combination of speed and strength. He recently benched 345 pounds but he's also the third fastest member of the team.
"That's a man's lift, he's just gigantic," said Peacock. "Besides being really strong, he's short to the ground and he's fast."
Joining him in the backfield is running back Pat Gardner, a player Peacock is convinced is the fastest kid in 3A. In addition to being a great blocker, Gardner is extremely strong as well with a bench press of 295.
"Because of his strength he bounces off people and then uses he's speed. He can outrun people, but he likes to run into people," said Peacock.
The third running back spot will likely be occupied by Casey Harris, the JV quarterback last year. There's a chance he might still get the varsity nod at quarterback, but it will more likely be handed to one of two juniors Kai Eldredge or Jackson Carter. Eldredge, the son of Southern Utah baseball coach David Eldredge, has the stronger arm which isn't necessarily a must in the wishbone offense.
Defensively, if Cedar can peg down a couple of quality defensive tackles it should be really good. Jason Lee and Ryan Decker will be solid at the end positions, and Grover will be a stud at linebacker. Austin Bulloch is also likely going to start at linebacker despite a torn ACL.
"He popped his ACL in camp, but the physical therapist can't even believe what he can do. He's worked his way back into a starting position for us even with a torn ACL," said Peacock. "You just don't have any stability when it pops, but you can't hurt it worse."Bulloch has strong enough legs and a high enough pain threshold that if he wears a brace he'll be able to play.
Cedar Redmen 2008 prep football preview
COACH: Todd Peacock is entering his 22nd season as a head coach, 17 of which have been at Cedar. He was at East Carbon for one year and North Sanpete for three years prior to that.
KEY PLAYERS: Trent Grover is poised to have a great season on both sides of the ball. Offensively he'll start at fullback and defensively he'll be the heart of the team at linebacker. The defense also got a big boost by move-in Jordan Lee, a starter at North Sanpete last year. He'll start at defensive end opposite returning starter Ryan Decker. Ryan Christensen is a returning starter at free safety.
QUESTION MARK: There's uncertainty on the offensive line, something coach Peacock is confident will sort itself out once the players get a few games under their belts. Conversely, there's question marks at the defensive tackle spots. Offensively, Cedar's starting quarterback will be a junior with no varsity experience.
LAST YEAR: 8-4, lost in quarterfinals.
PREDICTED REGION 9 (3A) FINISH: Second.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Cedar will battle Hurricane for the Region 9 title, and in the 3A playoffs it has the potential to advance to at least the quarterfinals and potentially the semifinals.
Aug. 22 BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 MILLARD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at ALA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 HURRICANE, 7 p.m.Oct. 24 at Canyon View, 7 p.m.