WEST JORDAN Four-year starter D.J. Tialavea has been on a roller-coaster ride throughout his time in West Jordan's football program.
Tialavea, who has a verbal offer from Utah State, has started both ways (tight end on offense and defensive end on defense) for the Jags since he was a freshman, and he's witnessed first hand the highs and lows at West Jordan.
As a freshman in 2005, he helped the Jaguars to a 9-4 overall record and a spot in the 5A semifinals. One year later, however, disaster struck as West Jordan went 1-9 and lost all the momentum it had built up.
West Jordan was much improved last fall and finished with a 5-5 record, and heading into his final season of high school football, Tialavea hopes to exit West Jordan's program the same way he entered it by helping the Jags to considerable success.
"It has been a roller coaster," Tialavea said. "I didn't play little-league football, so I didn't know about football until I came to high school. And ever since, it's been a roller coaster, but I really feel like this is our year to show what we got.
"We have all the pieces to the puzzle right now, and I think that we're a great group of kids. We're really close, we're really tight-knit and I think that when we do our thing on the football field, we're gonna get things done."
Leading the charge in that regard will undoubtedly be Tialavea and fellow senior captain Tyson Udy, who missed most of last year after breaking his right leg but starred as a sophomore.
Udy pointed out that West Jordan rebounded from the disappointment of two years ago with a decent season, and he thinks his teammates have what it takes to make another jump this fall.
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West Jordan Jaguars 2008
COACH: Mike Morgan (9th year)
KEY PLAYERS: Senior captains Tyson Udy (WR/LB) and D.J. Tialavea (TE/DE) are expected to lead the way on a team that should be outstanding up front.
QUESTION MARK: What happened to West Jordan two years ago when it went 1-9 wasn't the norm, and their improvement a season later was evidence of that. However, can they take more steps forward this fall and go from being an OK team to being a good one?
PREDICTED REGION 3 FINISH: Fifth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Given the recent improvement of Kearns High, just getting to the playoffs will present its own set of challenges for West Jordan, as it will have to beat out one of the following: Bingham, Riverton, Hunter or Kearns. West Jordan came close a season ago to getting to the postseason, and if the Jags can indeed get better this fall, they'll have a decent chance to find themselves back in the 5A playoff picture.