RIVERTON — Riverton tailback Dillon Draper is proud of the things his team accomplished during a 7-4 season last fall, a season that ultimately ended in a first-round playoff loss to Davis.
But the talented senior believes his Silverwolves can accomplish more this fall.
Armed with a stellar junior class that will likely see the field at a number of positions, Riverton hopes to continue to get better and better this year.
"Expectations are high," said Draper, a three-year starter who rushed for 753 yards a season ago. "Last year, we had a pretty good season, but I feel like we can go further than we did last year. Hopefully we can come together as a team."
Improving as a program from year to year has been coach Mike Miller's main emphasis throughout his tenure at Riverton High, and he's looking forward to the challenge of trying to get better this year.
"Every season takes on a different personality. It just does," he said. "I think that's the cool thing about this sport. If you had a bad season one year, you can have a great year the next year, or vice versa. With that said, this team's been a fun team to coach. They work hard, they're very coachable kids and they've gotten better."
They've especially gotten better in the backfield. This fall, Miller will have a deep stable of running backs to utilize in his Wing-T offense, something that should pay big dividends.
"It's a good luxury to have," said Miller. "Hopefully they all stay healthy and everyone can play. It's made it a little more competitive than it's been in the past. You will see six or more different running backs play for us every game this year.
"They're all good kids, and all of them deserve a chance to play."
Riverton High, which has the highest enrollment in the state, will be considerably smaller when a new school in Herriman opens next year, leading some to speculate that Riverton's football team be pushing extra hard to have success this year before its potential player pool shrinks next year.
In reality, however, Miller and Co. aren't thinking that way at all. In fact, Miller says he's looking forward to having the new high school come into the fold but that it won't effect what happens on the field this fall.
"I welcome the split because I'll know who my Riverton kids are and who will still be at Riverton," he said. "Those that are sitting on the fences around here will be gone. But we're just looking forward to trying to get better this year."
Riverton Silverwolves 2009 prep football preview
Coach: Mike Miller has gone 76-46 in 11 seasons as a head football coach.
Key players: Star tailback Dillon Draper anchors what promises to be a deep stable of talented running backs. Tua Laei and Connor Evans are among the other running backs who should also make an impact this fall. Offensively, also expect big things from receiver Jentz Painter and center Trey Sandness. On the other side of the ball, look for Skyler Fullmer (MLB), Cole Osborne (OLB), Ben Lindsey (MLB) and Landon Fisher (DL) to shine. Fisher, a junior who will start at tight end, should enjoy a stellar season on both sides of the ball.
Strengths: Miller says this group is collectively faster than any group that he's ever coached, and all of that speed should make Riverton tough to beat this fall. Over several seasons, the Silverwolves have had a lot of stability inside their program, and that should contribute to on-the-field success throughout this season.
Concerns: Previous postseason success is the one thing missing from Riverton's resume. The program is solid, stable and successful, but to take the next big step forward and really become one of 5A's elite teams, the Silverwolves know they'll have to get it done in the playoffs.
Last year: 7-4, lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Predicted Region 3 finish: Second.
Postseason possibilities: Riverton is certainly capable of winning a playoff game this fall — the Silverwolves just have to go out and get the job done.
Aug. 21 — LEHI, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at American Fork, 7 p.m.
Sep. 5 — vs. TBA, Calif. at Pleasant Grove, 10:30 a.m.
Sep. 11 — at Kearns, 7 p.m.
Sep. 18 — COPPER HILLS, 7 p.m.
Sep. 24 — at West Jordan, 7 p.m.
Sep. 30 — ALTA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — TAYLORSVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — at Bingham, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 — Bye.