Note: Taylorsville finished with an 0-10 overall record in 2009 and an 0-5 record in Region 3. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
TAYLORSVILLE — The Taylorsville Warriors knew how difficult it was going to be to turn around their languishing football program when coach Jonny Matich arrived on the scene before last year, and that point was simply reinforced over and over again as the Warriors struggled to a winless record in 2009.
But don't think that Matich and Co. are ready to throw in the towel yet.
Understanding that they're in it for the long haul, Matich's guys have worked incredibly hard from the end of last year to the start of this year, and they hope to show signs of life on the football field this fall.
"It's something you gotta be patient with. I have to remind myself I'm building this team up and it's getting better each day," said Matich. "I feel like we've progressed. Our record didn't say it last year. That's all the fans see — that we went 0-10. But I thought we progressed a lot.
"We came out and punched people in the mouth — we played hard. … After every game the kids were congratulated by the other coaches and were told, 'This is the hardest we've seen Taylorsville fight.'"
That's not to say, however, that Matich believes that merely fighting and competing is going to be good enough — far from it.
"You can fight as hard as you want, but you better win," he said. "That's something I really preach to them is, 'Good for you, feel good about yourself for getting better.' But our ultimate goal is to win."
For Matich, that starts when his kids take the field against Clearfield in the season opener.
"Our first progression is to win. We've got to win August 20th," he said. "We've gotta get that monkey off our back. We've gotta win that game. There is no progression other than to win that game.
"From there, we can build and from there we can win close games and from there we can make comebacks and can rally and from there we can do some things. But we gotta get that first win under our belt, and we've got that opportunity next weekend."
That Matich will try to win that huge season-opener with a lot of inexperienced players — only two returning starters are back on offense and only two are back on defense — doesn't scare him.
"I don't get that nervous with young guys going out on the field," said Matich, who then cracked: "After a season like last year, I don't get nervous about much."
The second-year Taylorsville head coach says he was extremely impressed with how hard his kids have worked since January 6th, and he can't wait to see what happens next weekend.
"Everything we've done is for Clearfield, from every lift, from every rep, from every drill," said Matich. "We have had Clearfield on our mind in everything we do. Since January 6th we've known they were going to be our first game, and that's the most important thing in the world.
"And then our second game is the most important thing in the world and then our third game is the most important thing in the world."
Taylorsville Warriors at a glance
Coach: Jonny Matich is in his second year as the head coach of Taylorsville after spending his first two years as a head coach at Granger High. He is the younger brother of East coach Brandon Matich.
(2 returning starters. Wing-T offense)
Senior Brentt Phillips, who played with Matich at Granger before sitting out last season because of transfer rules, should play a big role on offense for the Warriors this fall. He is slated to play at fullback. Connor Stidham, Dalton Kondor and Jayce Hansen should all contribute as running backs, Dylan Wilson is slated to play quarterback and Omar Perez and Tyler Briggs are key guys along the O-line. Briggs and Hansen are returning starters on offense. Hansen is currently a question mark, as he's trying to come back from a torn ACL.
(2 returning starters. 4-3 defense)
Phillips is expected to help lead the defense from his linebacker position, with several guys hopefully stepping up alongside him. Nipa Funaki (DE), Gabe Tomala (CB), Briggs (DT) and Nick Pappis (LB) all fall into that category. Both Funaki and Briggs are returning starters on defense.
Coaches preseason Region 3 straw poll: Sixth
Deseret News Region 3 prediction: Sixth
Bottom line: It will almost assuredly be another struggle for the Warriors this fall. Matich is doing a fine job of trying to turn around a lot of aspects within the program, but it's going to simply take time to see the fruits of his labors. Taylorsville will have a chance to win region games, though, when it faces Copper Hills and Herriman.
Aug. 20 — at Clearfield, 7 p.m.
Aug. 27 — vs. Brighton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 — MURRAY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 — HERRIMAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 — at Kearns, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 — COPPER HILLS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at West Jordan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Bingham, 7 p.m.