Prep football: Corner Canyon quickly stockpiles talent

Published August 17, 2013 6:07 pm
The new high school hopes to establish rivalries against nearby powers Alta, Juan Diego.
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Draper • The new Corner Canyon High is the new kid on the block in the neighborhood, trying to establish itself with traditional powers Alta and Juan Diego.

Corner Canyon and coach Don Eck open their season Friday at Juan Diego before playing the school's inaugural home game Aug. 30 against Springville. The Chargers will compete in Class 4A's Region 7 this season.

While the cupboard still might be bare in terms of equipment and facilities — Eck said his garage served as the team's equipment room this summer — it is not bare in terms of the number of players, and opposing coaches already are taking notice.

"It's always tough to get it started, but I've heard that he's got like 155 kids out," Timpanogos coach Ed Larson said. "That's just unbelievable. They may not be as talented as you like them yet — they're young — but they'll have a bunch of kids to plug in. … The future's pretty good."

Others weren't as tempered in their opinions. Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead listed Corner Canyon as a serious threat to his team's attempt at a third consecutive region title.

"A lot of people are saying it's just a first-year school, but Don Eck is a tremendous coach and he's got great talent going in through there," Whitehead said.

It might be a lot to expect Eck and his team to challenge for a region title in 2013. The former University of Utah offensive lineman has just one year of high school coaching experience, which came as an assistant at Woods Cross in 1984. It's his first job as head coach at any level.

But over the last three decades he has held coaching jobs at four colleges — Utah, Arizona, James Madison and Weber State — as well as NFL Europe and the United Football League. His longest stint in one place was at Utah, where he served as the team's offensive line coach from 1994 to 2002. He served as the offensive line coach for the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives from 2009 to 2012.

If Corner Canyon's future is as bright as Larson and Whitehead believe, the Chargers partly can thank Alta.

"We got a lot of Alta kids," Eck said. "We got a few from Summit, a few from Juan Diego and few from Jordan. But the majority of them are from Alta."

Eck also hired a few Alta assistant coaches and said parts of his offense use similar terminology to Alta's offense to make the transition easier for the players.

Because of that and the proximity to Alta and Juan Diego, Eck envisions a future that features a three-way rivalry between the neighbors.

"Right now we're all in different classifications, but I'm hoping one day we can all three be together," Eck said. "Shoot, we got two natural rivals right here in Draper."

While the Chargers' first game will be against Juan Diego, they won't play Alta for at least the next two seasons.

"There'd be a lot of interest and a lot of people at the games, no matter if it's their place or our place," Eck said. "I think it would be a great thing, so hopefully that can happen in the next couple years."

But the coach realizes the feeling may not be the same at Alta.

"We're moving forward. It really doesn't affect us much at all," said Alta coach Bob Stephens, who pointed out that Corner Canyon's opening only will affect his team's depth. "We'll play with the guys we have. The ones we have are excited to be here and remain competitive. ... Our quality is going to stay the same."

Both coaches understand that the decision to build the school had to do with overcrowding and academics, not football.

"It's not like we went out and stole them," Eck said. "If I was at Alta, I'd be upset. I'd have some hard feeling just because they built a brand new school and took some of my kids. It's not anybody's fault really, that's just the way it is."



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