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High school football: Pine View Panthers 2009 preview

WASHINGTON — Regardless of what classification it's lumped into, Pine View finds a way to be competitive. The Panthers have advanced to the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium in four of the past five years, moving along to the championship game three times.

Even though the program is 0-3 in those title games, each year coach Ray Hosner is confident about taking the next step as a program.

"I think our kids have learned to compete, they look at it as what do we need to do to win," said Hosner, now in his ninth year at Pine View.

Hosner is learning that every year and team is unique. During the James Lark and Nick Marinko days the Panthers loved to air it out, routinely scoring over 40 points a game. A year ago the circumstances were drastically different. With a quarterback who was more adept at playing tailback and a big offensive line best suited to play smash-mouth football, Pine View evolved into a rushing football team last year.

In fact, in a 19-14 semifinal loss to Cottonwood, quarterback Justin Ence carried the ball 28 times.

In 2009 the circumstances will be different again. Pine View's line is loaded with underclassmen and therefore undersized. With depth at quarterback and plenty of quality receivers, the Panthers should again be a throwing team — yet different than they were during the Lark and Marinko era.

"Obviously we're not going to do the things we did last year because we're a different team than we were last year," said Hosner. "Now we've just got to improvise a little bit and take the kids we do have and let them do what they do well. The screen game, draws, play-action stuff, just makes us a total different team than we were last year where with Justin we were going to pound the ball with our line."

The exact direction Pine View evolves in 2009 depends on the coaching staff's selection at quarterback. Just a few weeks from the first game of the season, seniors Chance Jones and Braxton Peterson and junior Alec Meacham are still battling for the starting quarterback position.

Meacham is more of a pocket passer whereas Peterson is more of a runner like Ence. Jones, however, is the unknown quantity. In a perfect world Jones would likely be the No. 1 guy, but he's been away from the team most of the summer because of his baseball commitments.

"If he doesn't come in and dominate right away we'll probably move him to wide receiver, somewhere we he can actually help and get some reps," said Hosner.

Regardless of who gets the nod, he'll be protected by a line that features one returning starter in K.J. Boyer. The rest of the line will be young, which represents a theme for the Pine View program as a whole.

"We've always been real senior-heavy as far as a program, but this year we have a lot of younger kids," said Hosner, citing the impact of Desert Hills' opening last year. "We're probably only going to graduate five kids who will start for us and we only have 15 seniors."

Pine View's starting offensive line will likely feature one senior, one junior, two sophomores and one freshman.

With uncertainties on offense and a very difficult preseason schedule, Pine View's defense led by linebackers Wil Bangerter and Isaac Katoa will be counted on for big things.

Pine View Panthers 2009 prep football preview

Coach: Ray Hosner is in his ninth year at Pine View with a 78-19 record.

Key Players: K.J. Boyer has been starting since his freshman year and this year he'll anchor an inexperienced offensive and defensive line. Wil Bangerter and Isaac Katoa are solid linebackers. Offensively, Mike McLaws, Connor Murdock and Kaden Hosner are solid receiving threats who will also make contributions in the secondary.

Strengths: Following a surprising year of primarily running the football, Pine View is talented at receiver and running back and could become a passing team again. Defensively, the team played very well at SUU's summer camp and is confident heading into the season. A preseason schedule against some tough teams should help the team physically in late October and early November.

Concerns: With just six returning starters and only five projected senior starters, there are plenty of question marks for the Panthers. The biggest concern is in the trenches where the program will be undersized after several years of being quite big. That could be an issue in the playoffs against bigger programs like Cottonwood and Timpview.

Last year: 10-2, lost to Cottonwood in the 4A semifinals.

Predicted Region 9 (4A) finish: First.

Postseason possibilities: Despite some questions marks, Pine View is still probably the best team in St. George and the potential is there again for the program to enjoy home-field advantage all the way to Rice-Eccles Stadium again.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — DOUGLAS, ALASKA, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — SIERRA VISTA, NEV., 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — COTTONWOOD, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — DESERT HILLS, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — at Cedar, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Hurricane, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 — CANYON VIEW, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — Bye

Oct. 14 — at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — DIXIE, 7 p.m.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com