Nobody expected anything out of the Cyprus football team entering the season, and why should they? The Pirates had lost 16 straight games entering the season, and they had recorded four total wins in the previous three seasons.
With a new coach and a fresh start in 2012, Cyprus won five games and finished with a winning record for just the second time since 2002.
"We actually have coaches now who know what they're doing," sophomore running back A.J. Semeatu said. "It makes a big difference when you have people teaching you how to do things the right way."
The 180-degree turnaround was sparked by an upstart offense that was one of the school's best in years. The bulk of the offensive production came from a power backfield duo. Semeatu and his brother, Albert Semeatu, teamed up to give opposing defenses fits. The two brothers combined to rush for 12 touchdowns and more than 850 yards.
"I know how he plays, and he knows how I play," A.J. said. "We just have a natural vibe."
Albert, a junior, led the team in rushing yards and was second on the team in receptions. He also played defensive back.
A.J. was possibly even more of a factor for the Pirates.
"A.J. only comes off the field, well, I guess he never comes off the field," Cyprus coach Scott Wooldridge said. "When the offense isn't on the field, he is playing linebacker. On special teams, he is the long snapper. He is our iron horse."
The Semeatu brothers not only got the offense going, they led their team out of the cellar, but it wasn't just them. Quarterback Dennis Kamakana also emerged as a valuable game manager. All three will be back next season.
The Pirates took the initial steps necessary to change the culture of the program. A complete change will not happen all at once, but with guys like Albert and A.J. Semeatu and Kamakana returning, Cyprus can prove next year that 2012 wasn't just a fluke.
"This season was a good starting point for us," Kamakana said. "We brought back excitement to the program and we set the foundation to do even better next year."
Cougars look sharp
The Kearns football team didn't appear very formidable early in the season. It lost four of its first five games. The Cougars flipped the switch after that and won four of their final five regular-season games to claim second place in Region 2. Running back James Felila led Class 5A in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in the regular season.
Stansbury eyes first state title
The Stallions were dominant as they dashed to an undefeated regular season. Of Stansbury's 10 wins, seven were by at least 19 points. Quarterback Chase Christiansen enters the playoffs with 15 rushing touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns.