Assistant with aspirations of being a coach generally will take anything that’s available.
Cottonwood, however, presented a difficult decision for Kearns assistant Bart Bowen. Although the Colts were in a championship game only nine years ago against Timpview, it has endured some hard times over the past few years.
Cottonwood only won one game, against winless Copper Hills, last year.
The Colts only won two games in 2015 — against Copper Hills and Clearfield — both without wins that year.
“When it came open a second time, the administration called and asked if I’d be interested,” Bowen said. “I had some reservations, but I said I would come and see if they even wanted me.”
What he found was a challenge, but one he wanted to take.
“I was blown away with the facilities, and the administration was very onboard with changing the culture,” said Bowen, who thinks his group of first-stringers can stay competitive with other teams’ starters. But depth will be an issue with stronger teams.
And what did he think needed changing culturally?
“Discipline was a huge thing,” he said. “They need to go to class, go to football practice.”
Coach • Bart Bowen, first year
Last season • 1-9, 1-5 in Region 3
State title game appearances • 2004, 2008
Aug. 18 • Olympus, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 • at Clearfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 • at Kearns, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 • at Hillcrest, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 • Wasatch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 • Alta, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 • at Jordan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 • at Corner Canyon, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 (Thurs.) • Brighton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 (Wed.) • at Timpview, 7 p.m.
Behind center • He played as a freshman, was hurt during his sophomore year then started as a junior. Now senior Gabe Hagerman (6 foot 3, 215 pounds) will guide the Colts offense once more. “He’s got a great arm and can throw downfield with good accuracy,” Bowen said. For the running game, hopes are high that junior Ammon Sofele (5-9, 185) can avoid a repeat of his sophomore year, when he broke his ankle early in the season against Bingham. Senior Elijah Marichal (5-11, 190) mostly saw time below the varsity level, but he can take on rushing chores along with fullback Ethan Manu (6-0, 230).
Ball hawks • Dwain Worrell (5-8, 160) showed his ability at cornerback in summer activities just before his senior year. “In camp, we kind of forgot he was there,” Bowen said, “because no one would throw his way.” Worrell will be at cornerback once again and will play both ways by adding receiving duties this season. Similarly, senior Jonathon Grundy (6-1, 185) will start at free safety as well as wideout after seeing some action last year. And offensively, the Colts will look for slot receiver Connor Hyde (5-8, 145) to get open during his senior season.
In the trenches • Going both ways also is on the agenda for junior Sammy Duran (5-11, 250) after starting as a sophomore. He will fill spaces at offensive guard and defensive tackle. Senior Petey Mahuru (5-10, 250) is a solid guard, but his coach calls him a “true center” on offense and he might see time defensively. Offensive tackle was a need spot for the Colts, who will fill it with senior Dom Williams (6-3, 240) and junior Logan Oliphant (6-3, 190). Oliphant “could play skill positions, but we needed a lineman, and he was happy to help out,” Bowen said.
Hit men • Oliphant and Manu also will get looks on the defensive line, but Manu might move out to inside linebacker to take advantage of his quickness and tackling skills. Ready to play at a middle linebacker spot right is senior Marcus MacKay (6-0, 225) after missing the previous two years due to injuries. “He’s hitting everyone,” Bowen said. “He’s trying to make up for it.” Hagerman and Marichael also like to lay the pads at linebacker, and Grundy will come up from his free safety spot to make an impact.
Key returners • Gabe Hagerman, Sr. (QB/OLB); Dwain Worrell, Sr. (CB/WR); Sammy Duran, Jr. (OG/DT); Petey Mahuru, Sr. (C/OG)
Key losses • Omar Mberwa, RB; Damien Sio, RB/LB; Anthony Ronquillo, WR; Stetson Higham, WR/LB
The next wave • Dom Williams, Sr. (OT); Elijah Marichal, Sr. (RB/LB); Marcus MacKay, Sr. (ILB); Jonathon Grundy, Sr. (FS/WR)