Note: Judge Memorial finished with a 5-6 overall record in 2012 and was third in Region 10 with a 3-2 record. It lost to Morgan 30-0 in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Judge Memorial football team struggled in 2012. The Bulldogs lost more games than they won and allowed nearly as many points as they scored, finishing right in the middle of a lackluster Region 10.
But it is August again.
The slate is clean and Judge head coach James Cordova said his team is on a whole new path.
The primary difference?
Cordova said an additional full year of work has made a world of difference for his 2013 group.
“With each developmental stage, you gain weight; you gain size,” he said. “Last year we had one lineman over 200 pounds; this year, we’ll start everybody over 200 pounds.”
On top of the added muscle mass is a wealth of on-field know-how.
“We only had six seniors on the team. We have 17 kids with starting experience back,” Cordova said. “Instead of playing their junior and sophomore seasons on a JV field, they played them on a varsity field, and experience is a huge teacher. These kids all have a season of varsity football behind them.”
The kid at the forefront of the Bulldog effort is Kaden Ellis, a senior quarterback who amassed more than 800 yards in both the passing and rushing categories, totaling 19 touchdowns last season. He is a dynamic athlete and an indispensable leader.
“He started out more as an exemplary leader,” Cordova said, “and now he’s learned to use his own voice (and) take charge.”
Ellis spent the offseason attending camps and gaining attention from schools around the West as well as Harvard and Yale.
“He’s got some great choices ahead of him,” Cordova said, adding that this year, “he’s in a nice little competition with Michael Perry for the starting job.”
Perry, who is also a senior, recorded 44 rushing yards on just seven carries and had only 10 passing attempts all of last season. Whichever player is on the field, they will have a solid group of upperclassmen lined up to protect them.
“We have basically all of our offensive line coming back except for our right tackle,” Cordova said, “and we’re excited about that because high school is won and lost on the offensive line.”
The Bulldogs move into the new 3A North region this season, within which they will travel from Union to Grantsville. While it generates a lot of talk for his team, Cordova said, the realignment will only change how early the squad will have to get on the road.
“We like bus trips,” he said.
Mostly, though, the coach would like to get to his most anticipated contest of the season: “Pine View,” he said. “It’s the first game.
“At this point in the season, you just want to get started. It’s a very exciting year. We have a lot of good, young talent and then we also have a solid class of seniors.”
Judge Bulldogs at a glance
Coach: James Cordova is entering his 11th season as Judge’s head coach, where he has led the Bulldogs to a 59-56 record. He is also a graduate of Judge Memorial.
(9 returning starters, triple option)
Kaden Ellis returns to lead an experienced Bulldogs team from behind center with an offensive line that is almost entirely intact, replacing just the right tackle. Ellis recorded nearly 1,700 total yards of offense and 19 touchdowns to lead the team in 2012. Brothers Mark and Max Barnett along with Michael Kearns are all back to run the ball for a team that averaged a little more than 22 points per game last season.
Defense (8 returning starters) Due to a number of injuries a year ago, Judge Memorial rotated players throughout multiple positions, which forced a depth the team will benefit from this season. Senior defensive back Sean McMininee along with Braden Pelly, the Barnett brothers, and Kearns will make an impact on both sides of the ball, helping the Bulldogs, who allowed 21.6 points per game, to be more efficient this season in scoring defense.
Coaches preseason 3A North straw poll: Second
Deseret News 3AA North prediction: Third
Bottom line: The Bulldogs return a ton of experience — but so are most of the other teams in the 3A North region. Head coach James Cordova said team leadership needs to take over and carry the team. With a smart, talented, senior-heavy roster, Judge is certainly capable.
Judge Memorial coaching history
2004-current — James Cordova (52-48)
2003 — Dave Livingston (3-8)
1997-2002 — Tim Clark (14-42)
1985-1996 — John Colosimo (50-81)
1978-1984 — Frank L'Etoile (60-19)
1966-1977 — Gil Cordova (93-39-1)
1955-1965 — Frank Klekas (72-23-1)
1952-1954 — George Melinkovich (15-8)
1949-1951 — Tom Mares (12-7-1)
1946-1948 — Bill Moran (11-8-1)
1943-1945 — unknown (10-9)
1942 — Paul Patten (2-5)
1941 — Wally Morse (0-4)
1938-1940 — unknown (0-11)
1936-1937 — Ken Larson (5-5-1)
1932-1935 — unknown (2-4)
1931 — Mr. Decker (0-5)
1929-1930 — Ben Lingenfelter (1-9-1)
1928 — Ralph Bodine (3-4-1)
1924-1927 — unknown (7-9-2)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2010 — Ben Cook, DL
2010 — Daniel Shiramizu, SP
2008 — A.J. Carman, DL
2008 — Keenyn Walker, SP
2007 — Tyson Moll, LB
2007 — Keenyn Walker, DB
2007 — Lewis Walker, SP
2006 — Jaxon Myaer, QB
2006 — Cort Dennison, TE
2006 — Robbie Webber, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.