At Dixie State camp this summer, they called them "The Smurfs."
Against teams from Vegas, Riverton's players were in the shadows of giants, or at least much bigger players. But the Silverwolves took the name calling. It was humorous, even - especially when they kept on winning.
"They called us everything: munchkins, Travelocity gnomes, told us to walk down the yellow brick road," says Albert Tai, a 5-foot-10 senior inside linebacker. "But they didn't even score on us until the last day of camp."
If they'll be belittled for not being the biggest team, they'll take the trash talking. But Riverton plans on continuing their grind-it-out brand of football. While some teams have branched into spread systems and pass-heavy offenses, the Silverwolves would rather use the traditional Wing T to keep running down opponents' throats.
Oh, and they like to hit, too. Coach Mike Miller says some of his best athletes will be on the defensive side of the ball, and returning some key players who missed the playoffs to injury will help the team solidify its stopping power.
"We're an effort-based program," Miller says. "In our schemes, we can use a lot of the athletes we have that might not be as big. I'd rather have a guy that's fast than a bigger guy who can't move."
On offense, the team is still settling who its starters are in the backfield. But Riverton plans to use a large rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, particularly the starters who are playing both ways.
The program didn't graduate many seniors last season, so the Silverwolves will hope to contend for a region title with Bingham and Lone Peak in one of the state's toughest regions. Even if they give up a few pounds here and there.
"We've got speed and quickness," senior running back and defensive back Stratton Brown says. "We might be munchkins, but we'll hit you harder than anyone else."
LAST YEAR: 5-6, lost in first round to West.KEY RETURNER: Albert Tai, senior, linebacker/running back. After making 109 tackles and four sacks last year, Tai brings leadership and consistency to the Silverwolves' run defense.PLAYER TO WATCH: Dallin Munger, junior, fullback/linebacker. This bruiser made his presence felt last year on defense, but could be an even bigger threat running the ball and blocking.BIGGEST HOLE: The offensive and defensive lines are composed of tough, gritty players, but they won't be as tall or as heavy as several of the teams in their region. Depth could also be a concern in the trenches.NEED TO KNOW: This team loves putting the ball on the ground, and with a big senior class, they could be better than last year. But a rotation of undersized players at several positions means they could struggle against bigger teams such as Bingham.SEASON OPENER: Hosts Hillcrest. Aug. 17 @ 7 p.m.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon