Note: Corner Canyon finished with a 12-1 overall record in 2014 and first in Region 7 with a 6-0 record. It lost to Roy 39-0 in the 4A semifinals.

Corner Canyon 2014 Stat Recap

DRAPER — For decades, the goal for most high school football teams has been to get to the turf at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It meant a trip to the semifinals and usually a successful season.

When the same passion and hunger that helped get you there vanishes, the excitement of getting to Rice-Eccles Stadium no longer feels like such a success.

That’s exactly what happened to Corner Canyon High School last season.

In the school’s second year of existence, the Chargers went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season and marched into the 4A semifinals with wins over Box Elder and Springville.

Its trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium, however, ended swiftly and emphatically. Roy held Corner Canyon to just 139 yards of total offense in a 39-0 dismantling of the Region 7 champs.

“I think that group last year, coaches and players, was satisfied that we got to Rice-Eccles. We played our worst game of the year in our last game,” said Corner Canyon coach Don Eck. “We’ve talked a lot about not being satisfied with where we finished last year. That will be kind of the theme this year.”

He believes last year’s team was starstruck about not only getting to Rice-Eccles but also the hype of playing fellow unbeaten Roy in the semis.

“With this group we have the talent to get in the same spot and we can’t be satisfied just to get to Rice-Eccles,” said Eck.

The vast majority of that talent is unproven, however, and begins the season with some question marks.

Corner Canyon returns just two full-time starters from last year’s team. Heavily-recruited Keaton Bills is a returning starter on the offensive and defensive line while Perry Sandlin is a returning starter in the secondary. A handful of others saw action in a few varsity games, but nothing extensive.

Eck really likes the potential though.

“I’ve got a young group with not a lot of returning starters, basically a couple guys that have a lot of experience playing at the varsity level, but good talent, good size. Lot stronger team than I’ve had the last two years,” said Eck.

The strength is obvious in the weight room. Corner Canyon’s 1,200 club consists of players who lift a combined 1,200 pounds in four core lifts. Last year there were 12 players who achieved that status, but already this year there are 27.

That strength should pay dividends all year, assuming the mental side of things falls into place.

Eck said last year’s Corner Canyon team developed a reputation by some for playing dirty. He doesn’t believe it was dirty at all, but rather tremendous aggression. Heading into the 2015 season, that’s his biggest question mark.

“They have to learn how to play as hard as that team did last year. If I can get these guys to play hard we’re going to be a really good team because there’s talent on this team,” said Eck.

It starts with Bills. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he already has 20 scholarship offers. Eck believes Bills is good enough to one day make a living playing left tackle, but he’s being recruited as a defensive lineman where he excels as well.

“Great kid, works hard, has a great body, he’s big and strong and athletic,” said Eck.

Quarterback is the other offensive position where Corner Canyon has some experience. Early in a first-round playoff win over Box Elder last Halloween, Chargers starting QB Michael Ebeling broke his collarbone. That thrust junior Kyle Reaveley onto the field.

He did an effective job managing the game in the victory over Box Elder and then the quarterfinal win over Springville, but he ran into a buzz saw in the form of Roy’s stout defense.

The scenario wasn’t ideal, but Reaveley’s experience in those three playoff games should pay dividends.

“Kyle is your consummate worker. He’s always here, he’s always working, he works hard in the weight room, works hard on the field, has all the intangibles you want in a quarterback,” said Eck.

Perhaps the biggest void to fill offensively is at running back. Senior Riley Ogden rushed for 1,810 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, and Eck said a committee of backs will be tasked with filling his shoes.

Cameron Forte could emerge as the feature back at some point, but he’s also a starting linebacker and the coaching staff will try and keep him fresh by utilizing a running back rotation along with Dallin Lee, Jason Adams and Tyler Critchfield.

“I think we’re going to have a group that’s a ball-control group, control the clock, keep our defense on the sideline, eat up time, move the chains,” said Eck. “I don’t know if we’re going to have as many big plays as we had last year, but I’m kind of hoping we can get there with these kids.”

There’s some big play potential at receiver with Nate Cutler and Chase Meyer.

Defensively, Eck said it’s all about the tenacity.

“I hope we can play as hard as our defense played last year. Our defense was freaking tenacious last year,” he said.

Even though Bills is the lone returning starter on the defensive line, newcomers Matt Petersen and Cade Knapus are both very strong and should bolster Corner Canyon’s new defensive front right away.

Eck is also excited about the linebacker tandem of Lee and Forte.

Corner Canyon Chargers at a glance

Coach: Don Eck is entering his third year as head coach at Corner Canyon High School, having amassed a 18-7 record in the first two years. He’s a graduate of Sante Fe High School in California.

Offense (1 returning starters; Multiple formation offense)

Offensive coordinator: Aaron Rodney (1st year as assistant at school)

Returning offensive starters

Keaton Bills (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Kyle Reaveley (QB)

Dallin Lee (RB)

Cameron Forte (RB)

Jason Adams (RB)

Tyler Critchfield (RB)

Matt Petersen (OL)

Kade Knapus (OL)

Nate Cutler (WR)

Chase Meyer (WR)

Braxton Coon (WR)

Defense (2 returning starters, 4-3 defense)

Defensive coordinator: Stan Ellsworth (3rd year as assistant at school)

Returning defensive starters

Keaton Bills (DL)

Perry Sandlin (CB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Dallin Lee (LB)

Cameron Forte (LB)

Matt Petersen (DL)

Cade Knapus (DL)

Chase Meyer (CB)

Coaches preseason Region 7 straw poll: Second

Deseret News Region 7 prediction: Second

Bottom line: Corner Canyon’s inaugural visit to Rice-Eccles Stadium didn’t go quite as planned, but it will likely be the first of many for the Draper school. A split off from Alta High School, Corner Canyon has the same pipeline of kids that Alta did all those years during its regular trips to the semifinals. It has paid immediate dividends in the school’s first two years and will inevitably continue. The next step for Corner Canyon isn’t to just make a deep run in the playoffs, it’s to win some of those games at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The potential is there this year, but only time will tell if the players have that drive to win.

Last 2

2014 — 12-1 (6-0 in Region 7 – 4A Semifinals)

2013 — 6-6 (5-1 in Region 7 – 4A Quarterfinals)

Corner Canyon coaching history

2013-current — Don Eck (18-7)

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2014 — Riley Ogden, RB

2014 — Branden Bowen, OL

2014 — Braxton Martinson, K

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.