Prep football preview: Millard Eagles
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.
Millard coach Marshall Sheriff didn't have to worry motivating his team over the summer. After losing in the first round of the 2A tournament to South Sevier in double-overtime, the Eagles have been practicing and working with a chip on their shoulder.
"Honestly, we're a little embarrassed, it's the first time we haven't been in the quarters in 19 years. We felt like we were a better team than that," Sheriff said. "I don't have to do any rah-rah to get them to have a successful season."
Quarterback Skyler Cranney will return under center, and Sheriff said that the left-hander will use his legs to lead Millard. Running the option, Cranney can elude defenders as well as air it out.
"When he makes the right read, he does a great job for us," Sheriff said. "We're counting on his rushing, but passing enough to keep people out of the box."
Fullback Jeda Ruvalcaba will not only be passing blocking for Cranney, but captaining the defense. A thick 190-pounder with good speed and a nose for making hard hits as strong safety, Sheriff sees a breakout year for the senior.
"He's been working really hard in the weight room, doing what we've asked of him," Sheriff said.
Expect junior Derrick Brunson and sophomore Austin Wardle to have their names called at the running back position. Sheriff is excited to incorporate the underclassmen into his offense.
"Good speed on both Derrick and Austin. They should help keep defenses off balance," Sheriff said.
Millard opens the season at rival Juab on Aug. 22.
Last year • 5-5 (lost in first round)
Key returner • Southpaw quarterback Skyler Cranney is returning to run the option for Millard. The senior has excellent speed and is able to make good decisions with the pass.
Player to watch • Jeda Ruvalcaba will be leading the defense as strong safety/linebacker. Good hitter, Ruvalcaba will also play fullback to block for Cranney.
Biggest hole • Offensive line. With no returning seniors on the line, Millard will be using juniors and sophomores to provide pass blocking.
Need to know • Sheriff said that 2A North is a tough, deep region with no "gimmie games" on the schedule. Expect the team that stays healthy to lead the region.