The Mountain Crest Mustangs were so close to winning it all.
But just a few short months after dropping a heartbreaking double-overtime state championship game to Timpview, Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton and his team put the pain behind them.
"That seems like three years ago," he said. "The kids are pretty resilient. â¦ They move on pretty quickly, and they also use that as a motivator. You have to make the play and not let the other team make the last play."
If the Mustangs are to return to title contention, they'll have to do it without three of their biggest playmakers from a year ago. Gone are quarterback Jamison Webb, running back Eddie Hall and receiver Moroni Pututau.
Wootton still is waiting for someone to step up and take Webb's spot. The Mustangs' fall camp has seen a three-way quarterback battle, with Luke Smith, Brock Peterson and Tanner Schwab all vying for the job.
"The competition is good," Wootton said. "The kid with the toughest mindset and the kid with the most belief and confidence is the one that takes the spot."
Mountain Crest will rely more on Gaje Ferguson, a fullback who rushed for six scores last season.
Defensively, Wootton expects a big year from linebacker Nick Watterson, who scooped up a fumble recovery in the championship game.
Mountain Crest Mustangs
ASSIGNMENT • Region 5
LAST YEAR • 11-3 overall, 5-0 Region 5
KEY RETURNER • Fullback Gaje Ferguson rushed for six scores a year ago.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Luke Smith, whether he lines up at QB or receiver, the speedster looks to have a big year for the Mustangs.
BIGGEST HOLE • The Mustangs have a three-man competition to replace last year's starting quarterback Jamison Webb.
NEED TO KNOW • Mountain Crest came within minutes of winning the state title last year, but Wootton says his team has put the pain behind it.