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.
West Jordan Jaguars
The West Jordan Jaguars struggled in 2013, but coach Danny DuPaix believes he has the answer to making meaningful progress in 2014. It starts and ends with the ground game.
"Keep it simple — run the ball, stop the run," he said.
With that in mind, his players dedicated themselves to the weight room in the offseason.
"Our focus in the offseason was to get stronger, bigger, and work on our offensive and defensive lines," DuPaix said. "We’ve put a ton of time in on that."
Success will not happen for the Jaguars overnight, but incremental progress matters.
"My expectation is that we make great strides in those areas," he said. "We need to be more competitive in our region and we need to win more games that way. I think that’s the key, where as last year, I think that was a bit of a deficiency for us."
So far, year two in West Jordan’s rebuilding process has gotten off to a good start.
"We’re a little more ready this year than we were at this point last year," he said. "The kids feel comfortable with the offense and very comfortable with the defense."
It could just be a matter of time before the Jaguars right the ship and it helps that Roger DuPaix — Danny’s father, and the all-time winningest coach in UHSAA history — is by his side.
"Having ‘coach’ around, is in a lot of ways, having two head coaches — one who has that experience and one who gets to make the final decision and tell people what to do. It really is good to have him around. I love having my dad around, regardless, but to have him around as a mentor to me, has just been huge."
Last year » 1-9
Key returner » At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, John Penisini is being given a look by Big Ten schools and the Utes. A strong senior season on the defensive line will help his recruitment.
Player to watch » Naisa Mahe (6-2, 290) will man the nose guard position. The junior is the strongest player on the team,
Biggest hole » The Jaguars face a big rebuild at the skill positions, as they lost All-Region performers at quarterback, tight end and wide receiver.
Need to know » West Jordan will play one of the toughest schedules in the state. Along with its Region 3 slate, it will also take on Herriman, Riverton, Olympus and Cottonwood.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.