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Despite tragedy, Titan carries on

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While the Olympus football team is at "Camp Titan" at Snow College for its two-a-day practices, there will be plenty of players with thoughts of quitting, or how bad they have it, or why me? But those thoughts will certainly not enter the head of senior-lineman Richard Snow. He will take every practice, every drill and every wind-sprint in stride. He'll participate with a smile, knowing that it is his decision to be there and to enjoy it to the fullest.

Last season Snow had things put in perspective for him. His father, John Spencer Snow, suffered a massive stroke that, according to Richard, probably should have killed him, but instead left almost all of his left side paralyzed. A major event in anyone's life, but Snow simply carried on with his business.

"Richard is such an amazing kid," said Olympus coach Mark Smith. "I didn't even find out about it for a couple of weeks. He just kept coming to practice and working his tail off just like he does every day. He has always been one of our most consistent linemen, and you would never even have known that something else was going on in his life."

It is quite a testament to his will that Snow continued last season in such a fashion, but the senior said that it simply is his approach to things. It is an approach that he said was taught to him by his parents.

"Both of my parents always taught me to work hard," he said. "I just figured that if I was going to be there doing it, I might as well go my hardest."

It took some time before everyone learned of Snow's new home life. Just the way he wanted it.

"There were a couple of friends that really supported me, but overall I just wanted everyone to treat me the same. I didn't want any special treatment or anything, just to carry on my life like normal," Snow said.

While normal for most teenagers involves a lot of spending free time with friends, or goofing around, hanging out, Snow's time is much more involved with his family. He said that after school and football, he usually heads home to see what he can do to help. It is not something he feels warrants attention, but what he said anyone in his situation would do.

"I don't think my life is all that different from anyone else," he said. "I may spend more time with my family than my friends, but other than that, I think things are just normal . . . It's hard to see my dad go from 12-hour workdays to really just trying to make his life better, but I am happy that he is around."

There are plenty of people who are glad that Snow is still around on the football field. The senior is the lone returning starter on the lines. His presence at guard should help bolster a young line that has a lot of work to do. opening holes for returning back Zack Taylor and protecting quarterback Spence Young. For the Titans to be successful, Snow will have to help the line grow into a cohesive unit, but he still relishes the chance to do that.

"Football is just a fun game," Snow said. "I love getting the chance to go out there and compete, to hit people. I think we can have a great year if we reach our potential. We are one of the smaller teams, but we won't back down to anyone, and I am excited to see how well we can do."


(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes.)

1. EAST: The Leopards return the classifications leading rusher in Jake Cook. The senior led in both yards and yards-per-carry, so look for the 5-foot-11, 185 pounder to get even more carries this year. The holes could be gaping for Cook as Sione Maka (6-foot, 280 pounds) and Matt Tuai (6-foot, 295 pounds) lead a line that will rank as one of the best in the state. With dual threats Sean Swenson and Tanner Bowman in the receiving corps and in the secondary it will not only be hard for opponents to zero in on stopping Cook running the ball, but should have their hands full in trying to throw against East as well. 2005 RECORD: 9-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost in semifinals.

2. COTTONWOOD: The question now is just how far has the Colts' program come after losing college prospects Alex Cate (Oklahoma State) and Stanley Havili (USC)? Was it simply a few good players or has the program grown into a perennial contender? With a player such as 6-foot-3, 320 pound Simi Fili to sit in the middle of the defensive line, teams will find running a tough go. Fili is one of the state's top collegiate prospects and makes everyone around him better. Donovan Malmrose could be the next big offensive producer for the Colts, and center Jon Tuiatanu should help give the new quarterback time to throw. 2005 RECORD: 9-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost in semi-finals.

3. HIGHLAND: First-year coach Brody Benson has some high expectations to live up to after stepping in for Ray Groth. The Rams finished second last season and always are expected to compete not only for a region title, but for a state title as well. If the players can buy-in to Benson, there is still plenty of talent left in the cupboard. Tim Bickmore and Mike Barton get it done on both sides of the ball in the trenches. Braden Brown has great hands for a tight end to go with his size at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and he hopes to show the ability to get to a quarterback at his defensive end position. Liam McNally and Ionata Lauti combine a one-two punch in the backfield while Jake Webber wants balls thrown his way at receiver. 2005 RECORD: 11-3. PLAYOFFS: State runner-up.

4. OLYMPUS: If there is one player the Titans can ill-afford to lose it is quarterback Spence Young. He missed the first four games last season and the team began 0-4. He returned and the team went 5-3 the rest of the way including an upset-win over Provo in the first round of the playoffs. Zack Taylor returns after posting a thousand-yard season and joins Young in the backfield. Scott Smith is an exciting athlete that does it all. He catches passes, plays in the secondary and returns kicks. Mark Goldhardt and Chaz Barton are returning in the secondary. Olympus' strengths will certainly be in the skill positions, but the lines will be a question mark where the only returning starter is Richard Snow. 2005 RECORD: 5-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost in quarterfinals.

5. MURRAY: The Spartans are loaded in the skill positions, but for Murray to be successful some linemen are going to have to step up and get better as the season progresses. James Aiono, Josh Fitiseaunu, Kasey Lords, Mitch Meier, Clayton King and Kaderius Allums all have the experience and skills to take Murray back to the playoffs and do some damage once there. "We should improve as the year goes on and our line learns to play with each other and matures as a unit," said coach Keeko Georgelas of his team's prospects. 2005 RECORD: 4-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first-round.

6. CYPRUS:Jake Jenkins took over for the Pirates at quarterback in the third game last season, so the junior comes in with plenty of varsity experience. Dontrel Williams is a new addition to the team, and his speed should bolster the attack. Marcus Nelson is a capable back while Kevin Holsten can open some holes and carry the ball at fullback. Ethan Jones is back at tight end and linebacker and is a player to keep an eye on. Tre Smith is a dangerous receiver and defensive back, and Dominque Bey is an anchor on the line. The problem Cyprus may run into is a lack of depth. Many players will have to go both ways, and any injuries could be devastating. 2005 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Did not participate.

7. GRANGER: The Lancers return four players on offense and three on defense, which is more than a lot of teams in the region. Coach Richard Grosh is pushing for a more disciplined and team-oriented feel this season, and with some young, but talented players expected to make an impact, Granger could surprise some teams. Alex Green is a middle linebacker while all-region Isaiah Tapusou is back as an all-around threat. Pace Finai started as a sophomore and returns. Chris Vaughn, Joe Pututau, Jordan Lapuaho and Josh Holt should all be tough linemen. Nic Siahengalu can play all over the field and is a threat anytime he has the ball. 2005 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.

8. WEST: Coach Randy Schreiter has a huge advantage over last season. One, he is more familiar with the West school, facilities and players. Two, he has plenty of the same players he was getting familiar with last year back competing for him this season. Scott Floisand took his lumps as the starting quarterback, but that experience could only make him better for his junior year. Garrett Nicholson joins Floisand in the backfield, and Nick Merrell and Marshall Armstrong will be targets at receiver. Charles Latu and Siasoa Nateatea are experienced and talented on the lines. If the Panthers can stay healthy, they can move out of the cellar. 2005 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not participate.

E-mail: mblack@desnews.com