Pigskin Teams Looking to Rise
Aug 24, 2016 01:55PM ● Published by Greg James
Copper Hills did not win a game last season, but their experience could help them improve this year. — Copper Hills High School
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One year ago both West Jordan and Copper Hills high schools were unveiling new football coaches. This season they have experience and have the groundwork laid to begin to compete.
Tavita Sagapolu (Copper Hills) and Mike Meifu (West Jordan) have each been able to firmly embed their coaching philosophies into their respective teams. This season could begin the transformations they are looking for.
The Grizzlies hired Sagapolu in July of 2015, well after many teams had begun their off-season workout schedules. It left little time for their new coach to lay the foundation for his new team. He was forced to jump straight into teaching the players a new offense and defense.
This year, he was able to incorporate an entire off-season conditioning and weightlifting program. Sagupolu expects that will help condition the Grizzly players to prepare them for their season. Last season they finished winless. They have only qualified for the playoffs three times in the school's history.
The team has benefited from new academic strategies and has tried to recruit from the largest student body in the state. Sagapolu started mandatory study sessions to encourage students who were struggling to stay eligible.
The Grizzlies spread offense will return five starters –they only scored 97 points the entire season. A new quarterback is going to need to settle in quickly, so they put points on the board quickly. Christian Hoffe and Leolei Roberts are competing for the starting quarterback position.
Its base 3-4 defense will need to improve. They allowed over 44 points per game last season, last in Class 5A. The Grizzlies return five starters from that defense and hope the experience will help them improve this season.
The City Journals sports staff picks the Grizzlies to finish seventh in Region 3.
The Jaguars had a small taste of playoff football last season. They finished the regular season with a 5-5 record and placed fourth in Region 3, the first time the team had finished with a .500 winning percentage since 2009. They hope to return to the playoffs again this season and avenge their 53-6 loss to Lone Peak in the first round.
Meifu employed an open spread-style offense last season led by Dylan Krans at quarterback. The returning senior will be a key in the team's offensive success this season. In 2015 Krans threw for nearly 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Jaguars return eight starters on offense. They averaged 26.5 points per game last season.
The Jaguar defense has their work cut out for them in a tough Region 3. Last season they allowed 29.8 points per game in region contests. They return five starters. Region 3 has some of the highest-scoring teams in the state. A key to the Jaguars improving will hinge on stopping their opponents. Defensive lineman Alden Tofa is expected to anchor the defense. He has been heavily recruited by Division 1 colleges.
The Jaguars need to secure important victories to accomplish the team goal of a region title. Must-win games include Sept. 16 at home against Cottonwood, Sept. 30 at home against Jordan and Oct. 7 at Brighton.
The City Journals sports staff picks the Jaguars to place third in Region 3.