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.
Tooele might not yet be ready to compete for a region title, but the Buffaloes’ No. 1 goal this season has been clearly defined.
A season ago, they made the playoffs, but had to travel to Snow Canyon as a fifth seed. This year, the top priority is to stay home for the postseason opener.
"I think that’s realistic," coach Kyle Brady said. "We’re a good team and we’re going to have to be able to win some close games."
They will do it on the ground, on the legs of senior Ryan Brady, Kyle’s brother. He takes over for the graduated Adam Pace, who amassed 1,000 yards on the ground last season.
Ryan Brady will be running behind an offensive line that returns four starters — Zach Langi, Tyler Daley, TaeJohn Koffell and Jayden Caires.
"We have some good depth coming back," Kyle Brady said. "We have seven to eight starters back on each side of the ball, and we have five or six running backs who we will rely on."
On defense, senior Zac Cruz returns from injury and will team with senior Nick Schwartzman at linebacker, and All-State lineman Maka Kioa (10 sacks) is back as an anchor up front.
Given all that talent, expect the Buffs to charge their way up the region ranks.
Last year » 3-7 (2-4 Class 3AA North)
Key returner » Defensive line is the Buffs’ strength, and senior Maka Kioa is a big reason why. The senior recorded 10 sacks last year and can expect a steady dose of double-teams all season.
Player to watch » Senior Ryan Brady will move into the role as featured running back, stepping in for departed 1,000-yard rusher Adam Pace.
Biggest hole » Filling the void left by Pace, who shared the team lead with nine touchdowns during his senior season.
Need to know » Tooele’s playoff appearance last year ended a six-year postseason drought for the Buffs.
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