Note: Riverton finished with a 6-5 overall record in 2012 and was third in Region 4 with a 3-2 record. It lost to Alta 27-14 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
RIVERTON — The Riverton High football team is not made up of heavyweights. Rather, the players on head coach Mike Miller’s team gravitate more to the longer, leaner, faster side.
“We just have tall, thin, hard-working kids,” the coach said, surveying his team. “We’re not real big, but we’ve got very good team speed.”
Miller said that team makeup is more and more typical of his rosters, catering to the tempo he prefers.
“I’ve always believed in speed over size,” he said, “and it’s why we run the type of offense we run.”
The Silverwolves run the wing-T, an offense that involves run and pass fakes.
“If I tried to line up and go smash-mouth with my size of kids, it wouldn’t be that successful,” Miller said. “We have to use deception and speed in our offense to be successful. And it carries over to our defense, which is pretty aggressive.”
In addition to speed, Miller says this year’s squad is at an advantage because so many players want to be leaders, and have figured out how to do so cohesively.
“It’s really hard this year to point out just a few leaders,” he said. “With this group, what age group or class you’re in doesn’t matter. All of them feel comfortable enough to speak up and try to be leaders. I think, for the most part, they enjoy each other’s friendship and like to spread the wealth.”
Miller said there are a couple of exceptional kids who rise to the top of the pack, and Connor Henderson is one of them.
“He’s just an extremely competitive young man,” the coach said of his senior, who fills a dual role of quarterback and one of the team’s top defensive backs. “He’s a very good athlete because he’s so competitive.”
Henderson will direct his team behind the protection of linemen McKay Clarke, a two-year starter Miller described as the “best leader on the offensive line”, along with Preston Crapo, Wyatt Pickering and Presley Timothy.
“He’s a stud,” Miller said of the 6-foot Timothy. “He’s a kid that’s just worked hard and plays hard. If he had a 6-foot-5 body, he would play in the NFL.”
“LeGrand is one of the great surprises of the program,” Miller said of the player who had 375 total yards along with 61 tackles and two sacks last season.
“When we got him, he was just a real little guy and he’s hit a big growth spurt,” said the coach. “He’s now about 6-1, but because he was a small guy early on, he had to learn his work ethic. Now that he’s gotten big, all that is helping him out. But he’s really tough and really football smart — has a good feel for the game.”
Brady Slack and Yuri Yassin are both talented special teams players but too athletic for Miller to keep off the field, so both will step into the receiver rotation with Trent Denos and tight ends Ethan Cutler, Tevita Loamanu and Tanner Anderson.
“We got a great group of kids who are really unified and play together well,” the coach said. “We don’t have a lot of egos; they like to play together. I feel like we’re well-rounded and they know it, so they’re not counting on one kid to do everything.”
Riverton Silverwolves at a glance
Coach: Mike Miller is entering his 10th season as Riverton’s head coach, where he has led the Silverwolves to a 54-44 record. He was accumulated a 102-64 record in 16 years as a head coach. Miller is a graduate of Kearns High.
(7 returning starters; wing-T)
Connor Henderson returns to run the speedy Silverwolves’ offense, which averaged 23.2 points per game a season ago. The offense is loaded with athletic players who each provide the team with ability in multiple positions, like LeGrand Toiaivao, who was a great surprise for the team, totaling 374 yards on offense last season.
(6 returning starters)
Riverton runs an aggressive defense to take advantage of the length and athleticism on the roster. The Silverwolves ranked seventh in 5A in points allowed in 2012, giving up 22.4 ppg, a number they will work to improve upon with kids like Trent Denos and Keaton Kimball working in the secondary.
Coaches preseason Region 4 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 4 prediction: Fourth2 comments on this story
Bottom line: As usual, the Silverwolves will rely on team speed and an up-tempo game. It is a strategy that, along with the fact that numerous players return, has earned Riverton a No. 16 preseason ranking without even playing a down. As long as the team stays healthy and unified behind its senior leadership, the group should be successful in the new Region 4.
Riverton coaching history
2004-present — Mike Miller (54-44)
1999-2003 — Rick Bojak (13-38)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2010 — Landon Fisher TE
2010 — Skyler Fullmer LB
2008 — Zach Spencer, RB
2002 — Todd Jensen, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.