Kearns football is in better shape this year, partially out of ambition and partially out of necessity.
That's because Kearns football, heading into its seventh season under Bill Cosper, is losing key transfers to Bingham and Woods Cross. To remedy that, the Cougars put in a much better showing throughout summer workouts, which were moved to mornings instead of evenings.
"A lot of it has to do with attitude," Cosper said. "I think these guys (still here) feel slighted, which they should."
Last year's disappointing season, one that Cosper thought would be a breakout year, was followed by the loss of four starters to transfers including three offensive linemen. UHSAA hearings will begin soon, but the team seems to have already moved on.
"Our kids now will stand behind the coaches, stand behind their decisions," said junior linebacker/tight end Colton Grossaint. "I think this team's going to deal a lot better with adversity."
Even with the departures, the Cougars return four or five starters on offense, and seven starters on defense. There's also a belief that this year's team is more cohesive and resilient factors that could help the roster do more with less.
If an attitude shift does produce on-field results, Kearns can afford to be optimistic. Last season, its two region losses both came in heartbreaking fashion: a late, game-sealing fumble against Viewmont, and a called-back touchdown against West in an eventual overtime loss.
LAST YEAR: 4-6, lost in first round to Bingham.KEY RETURNER: James Felila, senior, running back. He became the lead back last year after expected starter Keanu Solovi tore his ACL during June workouts. Felila topped 1,000 yards on the ground, and should be primed for more of the same.PLAYER TO WATCH: Jordan Floyd, senior, quarterback. Set a school record last year with 350 passing yards and four touchdowns in three quarters against Riverton. Enters his first season as a full-time starter.BIGGEST HOLE: Offensive line depth. The transfers of Maurice Toilolo (Woods Cross), Leki Finefeuiaki and Joe Kaufusi (both to Bingham) forces a number of defensive linemen to play both ways.NEED TO KNOW: Cosper said the skill positions are the most deepest he's seen since he arrived at Kearns in 2006, and is confident in his defense as well. If injuries hit his O-line, that may not be enough.SEASON OPENER: Visits Pleasant Grove. Aug. 17 @ 7 p.m.
July 25: Introduction/Riverton
July 26: Hunter/Park City
Jack Wangjwang@sltrib.comTwitter: @thejackwang