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.
Since it opened in 1990, Hunter has been one of the stronger football programs on the west side of Salt Lake County. The Wolverines did capture the state title in 2003 and usually challenge for a region championship and often send players on to college.
That shouldn’t change this year.
"We’ve got a good shot with a lot of returning starters back," said Hunter coach Scott Henderson as the team prepares to battle for a Region 2 title. "We had a good sophomore group. Those kids should step in and replace the kids that we lost. We always have high hopes. On paper, we look pretty good."
Something new this year will be the fact that ninth-graders are attending Hunter. Henderson said he and his staff are working hard to incorporate the younger players into the program.
He said he expects Region 2 to be improved from a year ago, when Taylorsville claimed the title with a win over the Wolverines. Henderson said Hillcrest and Granger each have new coaches and he expects both to be improved.
As is almost always the case, Hunter has some college prospects. Noah Togiai, a tight end and outside linebacker, has committed to the Utah basketball team in 2015, though he could also play football for the Utes. And lineman Tevita Tauteloi is mulling three options.
Hunter likes to play power football out of an I formation, though junior quarterback McKay Mielinger broke all of the Wolverines’ passing records last year as a sophomore.
"Our biggest concern is that we can’t get complacent," Henderson said. "In the last two years, we got to the playoffs, and then kind of like fizzled. We need to stay hungry every week. I am preaching to them to play every down like it’s your last, regardless of the score."
Last year » 6-5 overall (4-1 in Region 2; lost in first round of state tournament)
Key returners » Tight end and outside linebacker Noah Togiai, at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, is one of the state’s top athletes. Lineman Tevita Tauteloi will anchor both defense and offense.
Player to watch » Junior quarterback McKay Mielinger broke nearly every Hunter passing record last year.
Biggest hole » Some key players are underclassmen, and the team had a tendency to become complacent a year ago.
Need to know » Noah Togiai has committed to play basketball for the University of Utah, but could also be a football prospect for the Utes.
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