WOODS CROSS With loaded sophomore and junior classes, the Woods Cross Wildcats expect to be considered among 4A's best teams in 2009 and 2010.
But that doesn't mean coach Fred Fernandes is ready to throw the towel in for the 2008 season.
Woods Cross will be led by a small but good senior class this year and build for the future. The team expects to compile a better record than the 3-6 mark it had in 2007, and finish in the top half of Region 5.
"We want to be good this year and I think we will be," Fernandes said. "Then we'll be a lot better the following year."
Fernandes compares this year's Woods Cross team to the first Northridge team he led to a state championship. That team was led by juniors such as Daniel Coats, and ended up shocking the state by beating Skyline in the state championship game.
Fernandes isn't saying that the Wildcats are going to beat Timpview and win the 4A championship this season. He just sees his program making major strides this season and really making some noise before the 2010 season is over.
"We have five really good seniors," Fernandes said. "I'm almost treating my junior class as my senior class. My junior class and my sophomore class have been training all summer long. They know what an offseason is supposed to be like. I think we got two classes in a row now that are big in numbers and big in talent."
The Wildcats might not have more than five senior starters this season. Leading the way for the senior class is receiver Jake Cusick, who's expected to be the team's game-breaker. He ran a 4.5 40 on grass earlier in the summer.
Cusick will be catching passes from his younger brother, David. David Cusick tore an ACL early last year in a sophomore game. He probably would have gotten some varsity time last year before his season was ended prematurely.
He's itching to play again, and hoping to keep Woods Cross moving in the right direction.
"I think we can surprise a lot people this year," said David Cusick. "We're turning things around. We're going to make the playoffs. There's no doubt about that. We're planning on surprising a lot of people this year."
Fernandes expects his offense to be highly productive this season. In addition to the Cusicks, junior receiver Chase Cappellucci and sophomore receiver Micheal Clark should provide some spark to the team's offense. Fernandes said Clark will be a big-time recruit by the time his high school career is over.
The team's running back position may be played by a committee. Willie Wolfgramm is fast and shifty, but small. He'll probably be helped carrying the load by Villi Fitisemanu and others.
The Wildcats' offensive line will be anchored by junior Lee Peterson, who started at center as a sophomore.
Fernandes said his team will be a lot faster this season because of its participation in a speed program. There were 17 Woods Cross players who took part in the program and all of them dropped their 40 times.
Woods Cross Wildcats 2008 prep football preview
COACH: Fred Fernandes is in his second year as the Wildcats' head coach. He went 3-6 in his first year, and is confident he'll lead the team to success that's similar to what he experienced at Northridge. He led the Knights to three straight state titles.
KEY PLAYERS: Senior (WR) Jake Cusick is the team's game-breaker. He'll catch passes from his younger brother, (QB) David Cusick. Players such as (WR) Chase Cappellucci, (WR) Micheal Clark, (RB) Willie Wolfgramm and (RB) Villi Fitisemanu should also contribute. (OL) Lee Peterson and (FS/TE) Tyler Hall are key players.
QUESTION MARK: There's no doubt that the sophomore and junior classes are talented. But are they ready to win games under the lights?
LAST YEAR: 3-6, lost in first round of playoffs
PREDICTED REGION 1 FINISH: Sixth
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: The Wildcats will be in the mix for a playoff spot if they stay healthy. If they have some bounces go their way, they could improve their playoff positioning. But to expect this team to advance past the first round is probably a stretch.
Aug. 22 BEN LOMOND, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 WEST, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 ROY, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Bountiful, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Bonneville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.
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