Football teams preparing to start seasons
Jul 28, 2017 12:21PM ● Published by Greg James
Jaguar players strut their stuff at the July 4 West Jordan parade. (Greg James/City Journals)
Gallery: Jaguar players [1 Image] Click any image to expand.
High school football in West Jordan has felt the gauntlet of emotions the past few years. The Jaguars experienced a resurgence and Copper Hills had hope but felt disappointment in its results.
The Grizzlies finished last season without a victory, and when the season ended its head coach Tavita Sagapolu stepped down after his second season.
“The kids are definitely shell-shocked, but they have responded well,” new Grizzly head coach Cory Dodds said.
Dodds takes over a program that has not won a game in two years and has not qualified for the playoffs since 2004. He was a member of the 2003 University of Utah team that finished 10-2 and won the Mountain West Conference. He played under Urban Myer, the current Ohio State head coach.
The collegiate experience Dodds brings to the Grizzly defense will be important. The Grizzlies allowed 450 points in 10 games last season. Sage Udy is a key returner for the defense; he accumulated two sacks last season.
On offense, Ethan Wiley and Leolei Roberts carried the ball 51 times between them last season.
Despite the disappointment, the Grizzlies still see an increase in enthusiasm and interest in the team. Its connection with the community youth program encourages its best players to continue their careers at Copper Hills. Transfers are things the staff said it wants to avoid in the future.
The Utah High School Activities Association realigned its high school regions beginning this fall. West Jordan and Copper Hills have been placed in Region 3 with East, Herriman, Riverton and Taylorsville. The competition will be intense to qualify for the state playoffs.
The Jaguars have made strides forward under head coach Mike Meifu. They qualified for the state tournament for the second year in a row last season. Their 8-2 regular season record demonstrated the team’s vast improvement.
They lost in the first round to Syracuse 38-35 on a last-second field goal by the Titans. It was a back-and-forth game that the Jaguars fell just short of winning. Meifu said the next step in the program is a postseason victory.
“The kids have set a higher standard for themselves and are having fun at the same time,” Meifu said.
Graduation at several critical positions has left important holes to fill on offense and defense. The quarterback and center combination and defensive line have holes to fill going into this year. Gone are quarterback Dylan Krans, center Fitu Kaivelata and lineman Alden Tofa.
The Jaguars will rely on returners Eastin Watts and Jacob Yada on defense to help lock down its opponents.
“The defense is assignment-sound, and we rely on getting pressure on the quarterback with our line,” Meifu said last season.
Region 3 will be difficult, City Journal’s sports staff predicts East will end up as region champion; Herriman second; West Jordan will continue to progress and grab the third spot; Taylorsville fourth; Riverton fifth; and despite improvements, Copper Hills will finish sixth.