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Taylorsville works toward a turnaround

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Lihai Makoni

Lihai Makoni

TAYLORSVILLE — Coach Scott Henderson may have said it best: "There is nowhere to go but up."

Taylorsville's football program hit rock bottom last year as it went through a winless 0-10 season. But ever since the last game of the season, the players and coaches have been working hard to get things turned around.

"Right after that final whistle, the kids have been putting in the work," said Henderson. "It is a whole new attitude. The kids are starting to understand football, get a passion for it. They are starting to understand what it is going to take."

While the players were hard at work, so was Henderson, putting together a new coaching staff. Last year, the team's offensive coordinator left just days before the opening game. It put the offense in disarray as everything it had been working on was scrapped and the team went back to the old offense. This year, former Granite head coach Bryan Good has taken the reigns of the offense.

"The second I heard that it was confirmed that Granite's football team was ending I got on the horn working things out to get him here," Henderson said. "He runs a good, solid offense and has incorporated some of the things we did before so the kids are really taking off with it. I think the offense is going to be a real positive."

Henderson didn't stop with just a new offensive coordinator. He continued the rebuilding process with new coaches at nearly every position. Matt Rickards, John Matica, Wayne Watts, Dave Wright and Carlos Ramirez are all in either their first or second year with the team.

"We are all excited and are all on the same page," Henderson continued. "We are all working hard and being positive for the kids. We are setting high standards and expect the kids to match them. We are not settling for anything."

The new coaches brought with them changes, and the players seem to be responding to those changes.

"We want to change Taylorsville around," said senior Jared Burke. "We are trying to change the whole attitude that we will no longer be just a baseball school. We've had a good offseason. We hit the weights really hard and have been running almost everyday. You can just see that we have a better morale around here."

"There is just a whole new look to the season," said quarterback Matt Anderson. "There is a lot more discipline, and the coaches are a lot more involved."

Along with new coaches, new morale and a new attitude, the team has an advantage this season— experience. Young players filled in at almost every position last season. That playing time last year will help the team this season as 18 starters are returning. Add to that some Granite players that should have all their paperwork done in time for the first game, and there are a lot more options for the team this year.

"I think we will be a lot more competitive," Henderson added. "We have players that know what it takes now, and we have a new mentality that losing is simply not acceptable."

Does the new-look Taylorsville program mean that the Warriors are going to go on and win a state title? Probably not, but will the team be better than last season? Certainly.

Taylorsville Warriors 2006 football season preview

Coach:Scott Henderson is working at making the Warriors' football program into something that will attract the students again. He has a great staff to help him, including Bryan Good, who was the head coach at Granite before the program was shut down.

Key players: Matt Anderson knows that the offense is depending on him at the quarterback position. Jared Burke, Blake Sio, Dan Ethington and newcomer Lihai Makoni will work hard in the trenches. Nytro Ahwong has looked good in workouts at running back. Zach Parry is tough as the fullback/linebacker type player, and Jason Willit should be a threat at wide receiver.

Strengths: The Warriors return 18 players who started last season, including 10 on defense. Add to the team some players and a coach from Granite, and experience is something that should bolster the team this season.

Question marks: Can the team overcome a losing mentality? The coaching staff is working hard to reverse the entire attitude of the program and get rid of the down times.

Last season: A winless 0-10 record last year must still be weighing on the minds of so many returning players. Playing in a brutal region did not make it any easier.

Projected Region 2 finish: Sixth.

Postseason possibilities: The Warriors must crawl before they can walk. Making the team competitive and winning a couple of games is a realistic goal for this team. Trying to break into the top four and grabbing a playoff spot in their region is still an unbelievable long shot.

2006 schedule

Aug. 18 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.

Aug. 25 — BINGHAM, 7 p.m.

Sept. 1 — MURRAY, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 — at Jordan, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 — SKYLINE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — at Alta, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — HILLCREST, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.

E-mail: mblack@desnews.com