The last winning season for the Beaver football program was in 2002. The Beavers came close to a winning mark last year with a 5-6 record and advancing to the 2A quarterfinals, but don't think for a second that coach Steve Hutchings is content with settling for mediocrity.
"We were about .500 last year, but obviously that's not going to be good enough for our program going forward, so we're hoping to keep at it," said Hutchings.
There are numerous reasons to believe this is the year Beaver gets back to being a winning program. With roughly half its offensive and defensive starters returning this year the learning curve isn't quite so steep. The same goes for style of play. This is the second year Beaver has utilized a mix of the option and Wing-T offense, and it's also the second year coach Randy Hunter has spearheaded the defense.
As beneficial as that extra year of experience running the offense and defense is, inexperience could spoil everything.
"The whole success will depend on how those younger kids fill in spots. There's some good kids, but will the lack of experience hurt us or will their eagerness to play help us," said Hutchings.
A lack of experience definitely isn't an issue with the offensive line. Josh Robinson, Mike Gillins and Ryker Woolsey are all returning starters and coach Hutchings expects big things from the trio, which also contributes on the defensive line.
"If you want experience only at one spot, that's where you want it. You can teach the other guys to come around but if you don't have lineman your skill players can't do anything," said Hutchings.
With the season just a few weeks away, there's definitely uncertainty about those skill position players. The Wing-T offense can't function properly without a good quarterback and fullback, and there are major question marks at both spots.
Beaver's first-choice at quarterback is sophomore Ty Yardley, a responsibility he may not be ready for. If not, first-choice running back Robbie Gurr will shift over to quarterback. Slade Edwards is the projected starter at fullback, but he missed all of last season with a knee injury and a groin injury has limited his ability to contribute this summer.
While there is some uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball, the defense should be solid particularly with experience on the line and at linebacker.
Now it's just about dealing with the pressure. During his team's week-long participation in the Millard camp in mid-July, Hutchings said the pressure of scrimmages led to some uncharacteristic mistakes. Those were just scrimmages, so you can imagine the potential mistakes that await Beaver once the season gets going if the players don't settle down.
"How fast we overcome that inexperience is the key," said Hutchings.
Beaver Beavers at a glance
Coach: Steve Hutchings is in his 5th year at Beaver with a 13-28 record.
Key Players: Josh Robinson, Mike Gillins and Ryker Woolsey anchor an offensive line that should be excellent. Robbie Gurr should benefit from that experience at running back. A two-year starter, Gurr is a small but powerful ball carrier. Kyson Smith will anchor the linebacking core and the senior will be a three-year starter.
Strengths: The trenches will definitely be the Beavers strong point this year with three starters back on the offensive and defensive lines. It should be a big boost on the offensive side of the ball as the young skill-position players round into form. Confidence should be a strength as well. Following an 0-10 record in 2007 Beaver made a solid showing last year with a 5-6 record and is hoping to build on that momentum.
Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback is a concern where a sophomore is likely to start, and the secondary lacks experience as well. There's some concern about Slade Edwards at fullback as well. The Wing-T offense needs a good fullback to thrive, but Edwards missed all of last year with a knee injury and there's no telling how effective he'll be.
Last year: 5-6, lost to Juab in the 2A quarterfinals.
Predicted 2A West finish: Fifth.
Postseason possibilities: If Beaver gets its quarterback position solved it should challenge for a top four seed in the South region, which means a quarterfinal appearance is within reach. Anything beyond the quarterfinals might be exceeding expectations.
Aug. 21 — at North Summit, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — GUNNISON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 — at Milford, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — at Kanab, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — SOUTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — PAROWAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 — at Millard, 7 p.m.