Prep football preview: Taylorsville Warriors
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.
Sometimes God acts in strange ways.
Just ask Taylorsville football coach Rod Wells, who isn't shy in saying he thinks the deity played a role in the Warriors' breakout 2013 season when they won just the second region title in the school's history.
When Wells took the head job of the then-moribund program two years ago, he did not know anyone in the area. He said that his staff consisted mostly of anybody who might want to coach.
Then, his church home teachers introduced him to a man named Pala Vaitu'u, who was coaching at Jordan when the Beetdiggers won their 5A football title. Vaitu'u brought along his brother Junior, as well as a new attitude at Taylorsville.
"Our biggest thing was our offseason additions," Wells said as his team begins preparations to defend its Region 2 title. "We hired some new coaches who are people with the same philosophy about how you teach, coach and treat kids."
Wells took over the weight training while Pala Vaitu'u worked on speed. Junior Vaitu'u took over as the offensive coordinator.
"That turned out to be a tremendous experience for the kids," said Wells. "We have a positive environment. There is no swearing, using cuss words or yelling at a kid. We make our points, but don't demean or degrade kids. We've got more response that way."
Going into the 2014 season, Wells admits to being a bit nervous. He said his team is really young and, in seven-on-seven games in the offseason, tended to get a little overconfident and lose to teams with less talent.
Last year • 6-4 overall, Region 2 champions, lost to Alta in first round of state tournament.
Key returner • Wells calls quarterback To'a MauMau the team's best athlete. He played running back last year, but is needed at signal-caller this season.
Player to watch • Matthew Sterzer will anchor the defense from the zone safety position and play some fullback.
Biggest hole • Inexperience on the offensive line. Only one starter returns from last year.
Need to know • Interest in Taylorsville football is apparently on the rise. When Wells took over two years ago, depth was an issue, with 40 athletes on the team. This year, around 110 athletes are trying out, giving the Warriors more depth at every position than they have had in the past.
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