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High school football: Cedar Redmen 2011 preview

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Note: Cedar City finished with a 9-2 overall record in 2010 and a 5-1 record in the combined Region 9, good enough for a share of the league title with Hurricane. It was upset by Judge, 24-21, in the 3A first round.

CEDAR CITY In his 25 years of coaching, Todd Peacock has never had to deal with a circus quite like he did with John Ursua earlier this summer.

Getting a read on whether Ursua actually wanted to put in the time to become a Cedar High football player was tougher to figure out than the NFL labor negotiations.

An all-state quarterback at Westlake High School last year, Ursua promptly transferred to Cedar in time for the basketball season. Despite occassionally missing games and practices, he averaged seven points per game in leading the Redmen to the 3A basketball quarterfinals.

Even though he ran the spread offense at Westlake, and Cedar is an old-fashioned option team, the consensus around the state is that if Ursua can pick up the nuances of the option he could have a monster football season. It was a mystery throughout the summer for Peacock to figure out whether he'd get the opportunity to coach Ursua.

The senior eventually got things figured out with his personal life off the field, and committed himself to the program. Coach Peacock was preparing to hand the job to Kaden Garrett, but he always knew Ursua would be the best option.

Even though Ursua wasn't around during Cedar's four-day mini camp at Southern Utah University this summer, Peacock knew what Ursua could do — he'd seen Ursua's highlight reel.

"I watched his highlight film on YouTube, and every big play he made he's back in shotgun, he goes to pass, he looks around and nobody's there and he takes off and he is just gone," said Peacock, who's entering his 25th season as Cedar's head coach.

Whether Garrett or Ursua is ultimately handed the starting quarterback job, there are plenty of other question marks this season with just one returning starter two-way lineman Kahi Eldredge.

Even though Peacock doesn't usually start too many underclassmen anyway because he believes in rewarding the seniors for their years of sacrifice, he's still a bit concerned about the lack of experience this season.

"I think we've had our best teams when we had experience. Start a lot of juniors one year and the next year it seems they've got it figured out," said Peacock

Fortunately for Peacock, this year's group of seniors is one of the largest he's had in over a decade so he'll have plenty of kids to select from. With games against American Fork, Highland, Skyline and Hurricane in the first four weeks of the season, the newcomers will need to get things figured out fast.

"Those first four weeks we better strap it on and go," said Peacock.

That's a message Eldredge has communicated throughout the summer to his teammates.

"He's kind of the one that's pulled the kids together and said this is what we have to do and this is what it's going to take. I think it's good to have him," said Peacock.

Cedar went into last season expecting big things with five returning starters on each side of the ball, and a group of kids who loved a challenge. It lived up to those expectations with a 9-1 regular season record.

Cedar Redmen at a glance

Coach: Todd Peacock is entering his 21st year as Cedar's head coach and his 25th overall having spent three years at North Sanpete and one at East Carbon. He is 125-96-1 at Cedar at 147-111-1 overall. He's a graduate of Emery High School.


(1 returning starter; Option offense)

Cedar scored 30 or more points in six of 11 games last year, but starting guard Eldredge is the only player back from that explosive offense. There's a little bit of experience at fullback though as Hayden Bishop and Braeden Clement got some playing time last year because of injuries. Bishop in particular had some big carries in a season-ending win over Hurricane after starter Matt Grover went down with an injury. Assuming things don't work out with Ursua, Garrett is more than capable of having success at quarterback. He's deceptively agile and has a good arm for when the coaching staff does decide to throw.


(1 returning starter)

The lasting impression of Cedar's defense last year was giving up 17 points in the fourth quarter to Judge in a shocking first round loss. Realistically, the defense had been a strength all year and that should once again be the case this year. Nose guard Eldredge and defensive end Braiden French will anchor the defensive line while Nick Sorensen and Bishop will be solid linebackers. Coach Peacock said Cedar will once again be smaller than most teams, but acknowledges that his kids always manage to compete very well despite size difference.

Coaches preseason Region 9 straw poll: Fourth

Deseret News Region 9 prediction: Fifth

Bottom line: With the Southern Utah teams all lumped together again in one region — and expected to be very good — there isn't much room for error. With just one returning starter, three very tough preseason games and then Hurricane and Pine View to open league play, Cedar can't afford to be sloppy early. Otherwise it will likely be fighting for its playoff life on the final weekend of the season.

2011 Schedule

Aug. 19 — at American Fork, 7 p.m.

Aug. 26 — HIGHLAND, 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 — SKYLINE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 — at Hurricane, 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 — Bye

Sept. 23 — PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 — DIXIE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 — DESERT HILLS, 7 p.m.

EMAIL: jedward@desnews.com