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High school football: Taylorsville Warriors 2009 preview

TAYLORSVILLE — Taylorsville's football program has struggled and struggled and struggled in recent seasons.

Over the past five years, the Warriors have gone just 6-43 at the varsity level, with a three-win season in 2007 sandwiched in between three one-win seasons and a winless one.

But new coach Jonny Matich is trying to put all of those nightmares in the school's past.

Matich has revamped Taylorsville's program since coming over from Granger High between last year and this year, and he's trying to make the Warriors competitive again.

"This school has an interesting dynamic where it's not a football school, and my No. 1 goal is to turn it into a football school and get football to be a passionate thing in the city," said Matich. "It's gonna take a lot of work. We've got 2,000 students here, and I have about 60 kids on this team, which is not very many for a school this size.

"So getting numbers out is a big thing, and I think that will come in time with competitiveness. We have not been competing in the past, and that's my hope — to compete."

Taylorsville won't find out exactly where it stands until it steps on the football field against Clearfield next Friday, but Matich feels extremely good about what his guys have accomplished up to this point.

"I feel like we've made a ton of progress," he said. "I've never coached such a hungry bunch of kids. They want to learn, they want to work hard, they want to win and they wanna be better.

"There's a high sense of excitement in the school, and from what people tell me, it hasn't been that way. When I was here three years ago (as an assistant coach), it wasn't that way."

Matich's star running back, for one, has noticed the changes that his coach has made.

"It's pretty much a whole 'nother world," said senior running back Nate Azera. "It's a lot more organized and disciplined. There's a lot more heart that goes into everything."

The way Matich sees things, the foundation is there for Taylorsville to become respectable again, something he hopes to accomplish this season and beyond.

"I've got administrative support, I've got great faculty support (and) I've got coaches in the building," he said. "All the pieces are in place, and now it's my job to put everything together. The pieces are there, and I've got to find the right fits."

For his part, Areza agrees that Taylorsville football has the ability to become much more than it's been.

"There's lots and lots of potential. It's just been hiding," he said.

Taylorsville Warriors 2009 prep football preview

Coach: Jonny Matich went 4-16 in two years with Granger High before moving to Taylorsville.

Key players: Senior Nate Azera has been starting at the varsity level for three years, and his presence as a running back in Matich's Wing-T offense will be huge. Besides him, Jayce Hansen, Nate Stuart and Devin Keeling figure to fill Taylorsville's three running back positions. Matt Cude, Keenan Brown and Jeff Barclay all played last year and will anchor Taylorsville's offensive line. Defensively, senior Siliva Tapusoa will anchor Taylorsville's 4-3 defense. Cude is a returning starter along the defensive line, while Dillon Edelen (SS), Andrew Togiai (FS), Ryan Stone (CB) and Hansen (CB) are all returning starters in the secondary.

Strengths: Having a new coach in place should certainly help Taylorsville this season and beyond. It does seem that Matich has several things going for him, and he'll look to build a foundation for future success.

Weaknesses: Quite simply, the program that Matich came into wasn't a healthy one. Taylorsville has struggled mightily on the field, and it could take some time to turn the program around.

Last year: 1-9, did not make the playoffs.

Predicted Region 3 finish: Sixth.

Postseason possibilities: Making it to the 5A tournament this year would be a major accomplishment for the Warriors.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.

Sep. 4 — at Murray, 7 p.m.

Sep. 11 — at Cyprus, 7 p.m.

Sep. 18 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.

Sep. 24 — at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.

Sep. 30 — WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 — BINGHAM, 7 p.m.

e-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com