Matt Rickards said the subject of physicality produces a grin on the faces of his players.
It's the culture the first-year coach at Kearns High School wants to instill in his players and program.
"We want other teams to remember that they played us when they wake up in the morning," he said.
The Cougars will have their chance and be tested in one of the most physical regions in the state, Region 6. After competing in Class 5A, Kearns now draws the likes of East, Highland, Bountiful and other Region 6 programs in 4A known for their skill level and tenacity on the field.
And Rickards likes that.
"All we think about is winning today," he said. "Making sure we do the best we can today, making sure our practice is the best practice in the state, if not the nation."
Rickards, an assistant at Kearns for six seasons, took the reins from former coach Bill Cosper, who recently moved back to his home state of Texas.
Taking the keys to the offense this year will be sophomore quarterback Bailey Floyd, a 6-foot-1 "do-it-all" signal-caller, as Rickards described. Floyd, the younger brother of former starting quarterback Jordan Floyd, is an athlete with a good arm and quickness, but as Rickards said, the expectations must be tempered for such a young player.
Helping Floyd will be running backs Daniel Tapusoa and Amone Finau, two seniors who have experience at the position.
"We've got talented running backs," Rickards said. "We're blessed at our school."
Defense is where the Cougars will look to lean in key games. They return seven starters from a year ago, including Colton Grossaint and Danny Kierstead, two linebackers who will anchor a talented group.
Rickards used the term discipline when asked what it will take for his Cougars to contend in Region 6 this season.
"Taking care of the small things," he said. "That's something we've got to get into these kids, to be more disciplined and accountable."
ASSIGNMENT • Region 6
LAST YEAR • 5-6 overall, 4-1 Region 2
KEY RETURNER • Colton Grossaint, sr., LB/TE. Coach Rickards said Grossaint is "an absolute stud. He's a tackling machine." He'll spearhead a talented defensive side for the Cougars.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Bailey Floyd, so., QB. Rickards said there will be grown pains, but Floyd has all the intangibles to be a successful quarterback. At 6-foot-1 and growing, Floyd can make things happen with his feet and his arm.
BIGGEST HOLE • Offensive line: Rickards said the Cougars lost "the hogs up front." In order to protect Floyd and create running room for Finau and Tapusoa, the new starters will need to step up.
NEED TO KNOW • After his first six seasons as an assistant at Kearns, Matt Rickards said the Cougars' season will be dictated by how hard the team preps in practice and in anticipation for each game. "No one is ever standing around. We're getting reps and short periods of time to instill in these kids a sense of urgency."