Prep football preview: Provo Bulldogs
Published: August 5, 2014 04:34PM
Updated: August 19, 2014 09:16AM

EDITOR’S NOTE • This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.

Provo Bulldogs

The cupboard certainly wasn’t as bare as maybe the record indicated when Tony McGeary took over as the head coach at Provo.

The program that has won just one game in the past two seasons returns speed, size and a fair amount of experience in 2014.

McGeary will look to build up the rest and thinks a .500 season is a possibility.

“I’m optimistic,” said McGeary, who coached Lone Peak to the 2011 state title. “I haven’t put an emphasis on winning. But if we can develop some toughness, the wins will come.

“I’m personally shooting to be .500 or better.”

Toughness will be the key. The Bulldogs struggled on defense and allowed more than 40 points per game in 2013.

“We’re going to put the ‘P’ back in Provo … and that stands for Physical,” McGeary said.

The addition of safety Kyle Unga, a senior transfer from Trinity, Texas, and defensive lineman Connor O’Neil will help. Junior Mike Maio returns at linebacker and sophomore lineman Chandler Mitchell will be counted on as well in defensive coordinator Saia Pope.

Still, the Bulldogs have some rebuilding to do. McGeary said the program has nearly doubled the total number of players, and the varsity roster is near 50 — about a 20-percent increase over a season ago.

In numbers, they hope, comes excitement. And, eventually, results.

Last year • 1-9 (0-6 Region 8)

Key returner • Junior quarterback Viliami Iongi showed well in 7-on-7 tournaments in the spring and has taken quickly to the new offense.

Players to watch • On offense, it’ll be returning wideouts Chase Heiner and Brayden Hinckley. On defense, it’s newcomer Connor O’Neil, the basketball team’s starting center, on the line, and safety Kyle Unga, a transfer from Trinity, Texas.

Biggest hole • Physicality on defense. Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for the Bulldogs, but keeping teams out of the end zone sure has been.

Need to know • Provo hasn’t played a first-round playoff game since 2009, and hasn’t won a postseason game since 2006.