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High school football: Springville's close-knit community boosts the football program


SPRINGVILLE — Springville football head coach Wily Child has only been at his current post since 2012, but his ties to and influence within the program extend back way beyond that. Child grew up in the Springville community, played for the football program and then went on to work as an assistant coach for football and head coach for baseball for nearly 20 years before he was giving the head coaching reigns.

In that time, Child has drawn upon the close-knit community's strength and program's history while largely exemplifying what Springville is.

"There's just a lot of people real loyal to what we do here and that's been a huge help to me. Hopefully I've done my part to help out as well," Child said. "It's a real close community and a place I've grown to love and really appreciate."

Child is quick to point out the work of those around him when asked about any success he's brought about. Perhaps most notable among the coaches he has on staff is his former coach, Doug Bills, who works as his offensive coordinator.

"You have coaches here who the kids love playing for and coaches who are real committed to what we do here," Child said. "I'm just fortunate to have all the help around me and great kids who have real worked hard and dedicated themselves."

All the combined forces helping out have worked to put Springville into the 4A state championship game this Friday, but the process in getting there has taken some time along with some peaks and valleys.

Child took over the program after the resignation of former Utah Ute great Scott Mitchell, who enjoyed a lot of success during his tenure. Despite the prior success, Child's team struggled quite a bit his first season, winning just two games in 2012 and missing the postseason by a wide margin.

"That first year was a little tough. No question about that, but I believed we'd get going from there just because of all the great things we have going for us down here," Child said.

Those great things include a lot of homegrown loyalty that is developed at a young age.

"We've always had great freshmen and sophomore teams that teach the same system we use," Child said. "Kids know what we expect from a young age and it just goes from there."

Springville quarterback Jantsen Thorpe has developed his game well through the years, benefitting from everything the program and community has to offer.

"Everyone here has been playing together for a long time and we have a lot of pride in that," Thorpe said. "We've all worked for where we're at for a long time together and I think that really helps us."

Springville has been on the upswing since that tough 2012 year, slowly but surely advancing further and further in each subsequent season under Child.

"It's sort of been building and building until this year, which has been a pretty special one so far," Child said. "Like I said, it's a credit to everything we've had going for us here for quite some time. It's a one school community and that's really been a great thing, combining with great coaches and great kids."

Springville's special year has been implemented by a lot of work and dedication, as most special teams are.

"We've always worked hard, but I feel this offseason that guys really did more than ever before," Thorpe said. "We had confidence coming back and knew that if we really dedicated ourselves that we'd have a chance to do something great."

Pulling down a 4A state championship over a heavy favorite like East would certainly qualify as "great," and the Red Devils will have that chance this Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"I can't wait. I've been preparing for an opportunity like this for a while — we all have," Thorpe said. "I know we'll have a lot of people behind us and we're going to give it our all and hopefully come through."


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney