Editor's note: North Sevier finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2009 and a 2-3 record in 2A East. It lost to Parowan, 36-6, in the 2A first round.
Back in 2A last year, following a brief two-year hiatus in 1A, North Sevier could never quite get over the hump. It lost three games by two points and was blown out in four others — including a first-round playoff loss to Parowan.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, they can't simply chalk it up to a learning experience. There were 25 seniors on last year's team, which in many respects makes 2010 a rebuilding year.
Coach Ryan Higgs doesn't necessarily see it that way. He's hoping his young team can surprise some people this year and compete in the difficult 2A East region.
"I know the kids are excited to not only show the North Sevier area what they can do but show the other football teams and the other 2A teams what we can do," said Higgs.
He believes having so many detractors will serve as motivation throughout the season. The brutal way last season ended will be motivation as well.
Even though North Sevier only returns two starters on offense and three on defense, every kid a year ago — down to the last freshman on the bench — remembers how 2009 ended. Two months after the Wolves beat Parowan 28-14 in the season-opener, they were manhandled on their home field by Parowan in a 36-6 first-round playoff loss.
It was an embarrassing way for the 25 seniors to go out.
"The kids have a sore spot on that one from last year," said Higgs. "The kids have a little redemption on their minds."
North Sevier won't have to wait long, as it hosts Parowan the opening week of the season. The bigger challenge, regardless of the Week 1 outcome, is finding a way to be competitive every game. It was simply too inconsistent last year.
The challenge for Higgs and his coaching staff is to push the right buttons. When North Sevier won the 1A state title in 2008, that group of seniors was very self-motivated and always had a winning mentality. That wasn't necessarily the case last year, and to an extent this year. Higgs believes with the proper motivation his players can develop that confidence.
"I think we'll be right in the hunt of the things if the kids come focused and ready and keep doing what they've been doing up until this point," said Higgs.
North Sevier's defense has been a pleasant surprise throughout the summer, and returning starting quarterback Joey Edwards gives the team a solid foundation to build on offensively.
North Sevier Wolves at a glance:
Coach: Ryan Higgs is entering his fourth year as head coach of his high school alma mater. He's amassed a 16-17 record along the way, including a 1A state title 2008.
(2 returning starters; Fly offense)
One offensive lineman and a quarterback are the only returning starters for North Sevier. Several others saw varsity playing time, but it will be up to offensive lineman Dakota Sorensen and QB Joey Edwards to have big seasons. Edwards is just a junior, but he reads the field well and throws the ball really well, according to his coaches. There's some talent joining him in the backfield. Chase Argyle is poised for a big season at running back after injuring himself last season. Juniors Reed Udy and Dillon Mecham are expected to contribute as well.
(3 returning starters)
Throughout the summer, North Sevier's defense was a pleasant surprise. Considering that North Sevier's defense gave up 34-plus points on four different occasions last year, that's an area that needs to improve right away for it to be competitive. Defensive end Michael Hales is one of the top returning players from last year's squad, as he recorded 19 tackles. Chase Argyle didn't play much last year, but he'll start at linebacker and be a key player on the defensive side as well.
Coaches' preseason 2A East straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News 2A East prediction: Sixth
Bottom line: From an expectation point of view, the 2010 season could go either way for North Sevier. With so few returning starters, nobody would be surprised if the Wolves tanked it and only won a game or two. Then again, the team has looked good this summer and is playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. North Sevier's first three games are at home, so momentum is there for the taking early this season.
Aug. 20 – PAROWAN, 7 p.m.
Aug. 27 – SOUTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 – KANAB, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 – at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 – at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 – SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 – GRAND, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 – at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 – at North Summit, 7 p.m.