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.
When Gunnison’s Hunter Whitney steps under center, the junior won’t be worried about how his O-line will be defending him — they were there all last season. Where most 2A football programs struggle with maintaining players, the Bulldogs are returning Jaden Lyons, McCoy Roberts Morgan “Chippy” Harris and Braden Burrell.
“We’re real happy about our line,” defensive coordinator Trent Halliday said. “These guys work hard to provide protection, and have an excellent work ethic.”
Halliday is expecting a breakout season from Whitney. While he didn’t start last year, he took enough snaps to be ready for varsity. Halliday compliments his leadership, toughness and being a true pass first, run second leader.
“Hunter is smart, tough and a good leader,” Halliday said. “The kids really got behind him with his attitude and example.
Defensively, corner Austin Francis and linebacker McCade Cobbs are expected to make big plays in the backfield. With new defensive schemes being implemented, Halliday trusts Francis and Cobbs to execute and lead the Bulldogs.
“They work really well with each other — hitting hard and flying throughout the field,” Halliday said.
Losing in the quarterfinals of the 2A tournament, Halliday said the team is ready to give some payback with some games they should have won and they’re working hard in the preseason to be ready.
“We’re looking forward to getting revenge on some games that slipped away, • Halliday said. “Everyone is looking forward to this season.”
Gunnison travels to South South on Aug. 22 to open the season.
Last year • 4-7
Key returners • Jaden Lyons, McCoy Roberts, Morgan Harris and Braden Burrell are all returning from last year’s offensive line. Strength and chemistry will help protect QB Hunter Whitney.
Player to watch • McCade Cobbs will be leading the defense at middle linebacker and starting at running back.
Biggest hole • Depth and health. Keeping players injury-free is a top priority.
Need to know • Last year’s defensive coordinator, Trent Halliday, is applying for the head coaching position.