PROVO — Timpview has proven to be one tough football team this season. While a prolific offense has taken center stage, its defensive play has been stellar and proven tough to score against.
The Timpview defenders haven’t allowed any team to score more than 20 points since the end of August and stalemated a very good and potent East High team last week in the semifinals. After being smacked around by the Leopard’s line play last season in the semifinals, the Thunderbirds were intent on turning the tables throughout the offseason.
The Thunderbird front threw back a powerful East line time and again — holding it to just 14 points and no second-half points.
“We didn’t say much about that game, but it was a game we wanted bad because of last year,” said quarterback Jake Lloyd. “They sort of embarrassed us last year and we wanted to show them that we could stand up to them and be just as physical and I think we did that.”
Like most things, the development of a tough and stalwart defense starts in practice. Coach Cary Whittingham administers tough and intense practice sessions with the team, benefiting for their nature.
“We really go at it hard and I think that’s a big reason why we’ve been so successful this year,” said receiver Dax Raymond. “I think we practice harder than anyone in the state and it’s not always fun, but it’s prepared us to go up against anyone and it sure helped us against East this time around.”
On Monday, Whittingham was again dressed in only shorts and a T-shirt in near-freezing conditions. He admittedly wears such apparel simply due to superstition, but his players see it as a message to them to buck up and be tough. “He’s the toughest guy I know,” Raymond said.
His strength has been transferred to his defensive players — many of whom are starting for the first time this season. Players such as defensive end Pita Taumoepenu, defensive tackle Noah Cobb, defensive back Tyler Solorzano and linebacker Emmet Tela — who leads the team in tackles — are just some of the names.
“A lot of my guys on defense haven’t really even played until this season,” Whittingham said. “They’ve done so well learning and then doing what we’ve told them to do and I’ve been real pleased with our defensive performance throughout the year.”
Whittingham of course has a great resource in coaching defense — his brother Kyle Whittingham is the head coach for Utah. Cary Whittingham relies on Kyle Whittingham’s advice frequently and does whatever he can to pattern his defense after a Utah defense that was developed by Kyle.
“I attend as many of their games as I can and I’m always asking Kyle his advice and he’s able to help out when he can and he’s been a big help,” Cary Whittingham said. “I’m continually striving to have the type of defense he has up there at Utah that is able to do what they do. He’s obviously been a big help to me and his staff has been as well.”
Overall, Whittingham likes the mindset of his team and feels his players have moved forward after a tough game against East.
“I don’t think any of us really realized how big of a game that was for us until it was done,” Whittingham said. “Now that it’s over and done with I think our players have moved on and I like our mindset, our attitude and I think we’ll have the right focus this week going against a very good Mountain Crest team.”