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High school football: Canyon View Falcons 2009 preview

CEDAR CITY — Under coach Alex Huxford, the Canyon View program continues to inch upward.

In his first year as head coach last season, the Falcons won three football games — which was a marked improvement from zero wins the year before.

A year later, he's hoping to continue the upward trend. It might be difficult with virtually no varsity experience, but Huxford believes he and his coaching staff have changed the culture of losing at Canyon View, and the future looks promising.

"I'm really excited about the future. We have good young kids. We have a good freshman group and a pretty good sophomore group, so the future looks good," said Huxford. "If we can just continually get better and get our kids to buy into our offseason program, which has really improved, then hopefully we can get where we need to be."

That destination is the playoffs, a place Canyon View has never been since the school opened in 1997. Huxford isn't concerning himself too much with playoff aspirations right now, though. He believes with good practice habits and attention to detail along the way the wins will gradually take care of themselves.

To get there this year the primary focus is defense.

"My philosophy is we've got to be able to stop people. We need our best athletes on the field defensively, and then we'll make it work offensively," said Huxford.

With only three combined starters back, realistically it's a work in progress on both sides of the ball. Defensively, though, Huxford is excited to build things around three key juniors. Linemen Mike Allen and Benjamin Doolin, along with linebacker Cameron Causey, make up a trio of players who played significant minutes as sophomores last year.

The underclassmen will be the core of a defense that could be pretty good in 2009.

Offensively, Huxford doesn't know what to think. Canyon View lost all but one starter to graduation, and this year's senior class really struggled at the junior varsity level last year.

Those struggles might be deceiving. Quarterback Will Cantrell broke his collarbone in the second week of the junior varsity season last year, and he's poised for a healthy and promising season this year.

He'll be joined in the backfield by two other inexperienced players who could've made a difference at the JV and varsity level last year. Weston Pearson didn't even play football last year, whereas Robert Lawrence played tight end and receiver before breaking his leg midway through the season. This year they're expected to share carries at running back.

Huxford is nervous about the guys in the trenches. Canyon View came out of team camp this summer with eight offensive lineman, but only two of them proved to the coaching staff that they deserve to be in the starting lineup.

"A lot of those positions are up for grabs," said Huxford.

Two that aren't belong to Jacob Gibbs and Dillan Warby. Gibbs was a starter last year and Warby is moving to offensive line after spending last year at running back.

Canyon View will find out right away how it measures up in 3A this year when it hosts highly-regarded Park City in the first week of the season.

Canyon View Falcons at a glance

Coach: Alex Huxford is in his 2nd year at Canyon View with a 3-6 record.

Key Players: Defensively it's all about Mike Allen, Ben Doolin and Cameron Causey. They're the core of the defense and will be for the next two years. Quarterback Will Cantrell will need to have a big season in the spread offense as well. Jacob Gibbs needs to take on a big leadership role as the only returning starter on the offensive line.

Strengths: Defensively this team could be pretty good with some quality players on the line and at linebacker. The Falcons should also be more comfortable running the spread offense this year in Huxford's second year as head coach. The coaching staff has shifted players around into new positions this year, a clear sign they have a better understanding of the personnel.

Concerns: There's virtually no varsity experience coming back this year, and last year's junior varsity team wasn't that good either. With a slow offensive line, newcomers at running back and a starting quarterback who missed all but two games with an injury last year, Canyon View's coaching staff has every reason to worry about this season.

Last year: 3-6, missed the playoffs.

Predicted Region 9 (3A) finish: Fourth.

Postseason possibilities: In an extremely tough region and with a very inexperienced team, a playoff berth seems unlikely this year.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — PARK CITY, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at Richfield, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — at Desert Oasis, Nev., 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — BOULDER CITY, NEV., 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Dixie, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 — at Pine View, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 — HURRICANE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 — at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.