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.
Woods Cross Wildcats
Woods Cross could make a strong case that it was the third-best football team in Class 4A last season. After all, the Wildcats lost only two games, including a semifinal state tournament game against eventual champion Timpview and a Region 2 contest against East, which lost the title game to the Thunderbirds.
If Woods Cross can fill a few offensive holes, it could be a major factor in the championship race again this season.
"We have high hopes," said Justin Spencer, who is beginning his third year as the Wildcats’ coach. "We return nine starters on defense and made it to the semifinal round last year. We are hoping to compete at that level, see if we can make some adjustments and make a run at it."
The defense could be among the best in Utah this season. It will be led by Deion Saumalu, who has started for four years and has played on the defensive line, linebacker and even some safety. Defensive lineman Mason Newton is another four-year starter.
The big question is offense.
Spencer said Woods Cross will be trying to add some new wrinkles to its spread offense. But the team is inexperienced on that side of the ball, is breaking in a new quarterback and has yet to develop much depth.
Running backs Masi Giles and Braxton Gunther could help the offensive situation.
"We are evolving in our scheme and replacing a lot of key kids who played offensively last year," said Spencer.
Spencer said that playing in one of the state’s most challenging Class 4A leagues is a positive.
"I love that we go through a gauntlet of teams in the season," he said. "It is making us better."
Last year » 11-2 overall (5-1 in Region 6; lost in semifinals)
Key returners » Defensive star Deion Saumalu, a four-year starter, is back, as is Mason Newton, another four-year starter.
Player to watch » Masi Giles, who played defensive end last year, will be seeing more time at running back. Look to junior Braxton Gunther to get some quality carries as well,
Biggest hole » The team is inexperienced on offense, where it will be using a new quarterback and lacks depth.
Need to know » Woods Cross lost only two games in 2013, to Class 4A champion Timpview and runner-up East.
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