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High school football: Richfield Wildcats 2017 preview

Note: Richfield finished with a 1-9 overall record in 2016 and sixth in 3A South with a 0-5 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.

Richfield 2016 Offensive and Defensive Stats

RICHFIELD — One season ago, the Richfield Wildcats won just one game, defeating winless Carbon, 27-0, in their final game of the season. Most of Richfield’s key players, like quarterback Emmet Hafen — entering his junior season — and fullback Kale Morrison — entering his senior season — have another offseason under their belts, and are ready to make an impact in the 2017 season.

For Richfield, the goal for 2017 is simple: put themselves in positions to win games.

“We’re hoping to be competitive in every game,” Richfield head coach Eric Thorson said.

Richfield will have to step up their production, both on offense — which scored 15.7 points per game in 2016 —and on defense — which allowed 35.2 points per game — to be competitive in the new 3A South Division, which includes Juan Diego, Juab, Summit, Manti and North Sanpete.

Thorson and the Wildcats are excited to prove their worth against the top teams in 3A this season.

“I don’t want to call anybody out because then they’ll put a poster for them to give them reason to look forward to us too, but I would say all of them. Obviously, Manti and Juab are big on the list and Juan Diego’s always been at the top since they’ve moved to 3A, so those are some we’re really looking forward to,” Thorson said.

Richfield Wildcats at a glance

Coach: Eric Thorson is entering his fourth year as head coach of the Wildcats. Over three seasons with Thorson at the helm, the Wildcats have accumulated a 10-21 record. Thorson is an alum of Davis High School and Utah State University.

Richfield Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Eric Thorson

2016 offensive production: 15.7 ppg (10th in 3A)

-- 8 returning starters

-- Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

-- Emmet Hafen (QB)

As a sophomore, Hafen threw for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns but threw six interceptions. His completion percentage was 47.6%, and none of his starters at wide receiver return this season. Hafen also rushed for 576 yards and three TDs.

-- Kale Morrison (FB)

Morrison rushed for 144 yards on 33 carries his junior year, resulting in one touchdown. With Evan Jerome, who carried the ball 48 times in 2016, graduated, Morrison will shoulder more of the load this season.

Returning offensive starters

Emmit Hafen (QB)

Daniel Harmon (G)

Kade Jensen (OT)

Kale Morrison (FB)

Ethan Torok (G)

Tason Lacorti (TE)

Ian Bate (TB)

CJ Johnson (G)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Jordan Anderson

Wyatt Norman

Thorson’s comments on Emmet Hafen

“We have a junior who is a returning starter from last year, Emmet Hafen, and he’s a good leader and he has a year of experience behind him now. We have some pretty high expectations.”

Thorson’s comments on running backs:

“I think it (the carries) will be shared between a few runners. Kale (Morrison) will definitely be a part, but Emmet (Hafen) will be running quite a bit and Tason Lacorti is also quite a big runner that will be running quite a bit, and then a third one will be Jordan Anderson, who is also a junior.”

Thorson’s Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:

“It’ll be team play, more weapons and a lot of speed.”

Richfield Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Craig Cunningham

2016 defensive production: 35.2 ppg (11th in 3A)

-- 8 returning starters

-- 4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

-- Jed Poulsen (FS)

Last season, Poulsen was second on the team in total tackles, with 73 on the 2016 campaign. Poulsen also led the Wildcats in interceptions, with two picks.

-- Cayden Acord (DE)

Acord tallied 22 tackles and an interception last season.

Defensive returning starters

Tyler Brinkerhoff (DT)

Ethan Lamber (DT)

Jed Poulsen (FS)

CJ Johnson (LB)

Wyatt Norman (C)

Caden Acord (DE)

Emmitt Hafen (SS)

Tason Lacorti (DE)

Thorson’s comments on Jed Poulsen:

“He’s a great leader. He’s one of our captains, he’s deceptively athletic, he’s also a great tackler. He’s just a great kid to have on the field.”

Thorson’s comments on Cayden Acord:

“Cayden is a strong athlete, he’s very committed to football, he’s tough-minded, he’s kind of our tough leader, he’s a vocal leader and he’s excited for his senior season. He just gets the kids fired up.”

Thorson’s comments on returning defensive starters

“There’s a lot of maturity (so) they’re not afraid of the speed of the varsity game. They’re hungry for success, I’d say toward the end of last season, they started to work good as a unit and a lot of them are back this season, so we’re excited for what they’ll do as far as being stingy to offenses.”

Thorson’s Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:

“The keys right now, one is a tougher defensive line, a more mature defensive line. We’ll have a lot of size this year that we didn’t have last year. Two, an experienced unit that is worked together and was beginning to have success towards the end of the season last year.”

Coaches preseason 3A South straw poll: Sixth

Deseret News 3A South prediction: Sixth

Bottom line: Richfield, with eight returning starters on both offense and defense, will be improved from their one-win season a year ago. The returning maturity and experience of key players will be helpful as the Wildcats look to make the playoffs.

2017 Schedule

Aug. 18 — EMERY, 7 p.m.

Aug. 25 — SOUTH SEVIER, 4 p.m.

Sept. 1 — at Kanab, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 — at Juab, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 — NORTH SANPETE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — at Summit Academy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — at Manti, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 — BYE

Felt’s Facts for Richfield High School

All-time record: 332-396-12 (87 years)

Region championships: 17 (1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1984 co, 1985, 1988 co)

Playoff appearances: 38

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 30-37-1

State championships: 1 (1984)

State championship record: 1-5

Most played rivalry: 56 meetings with North Sanpete dating back to 1923. Richfield leads 30-25-2.

Felt’s Factoid(s): The 1931 Wildcats are one of just six teams to average more than 50 points a game. … Richfield held Manti to minus-90 yards in a 1971 game, the second fewest rushing allowed in a game.

Last 5

2016 — 1-9 (0-5 in 3A South – Missed playoffs)

2015 — 2-8 (0-5 in 3A South – Missed playoffs)

2014 — 7-4 (2-3 in 3A South – Missed playoffs)

2013 — 7-4 (2-3 in 3A South – 3A Quarterfinals)

2012 — 6-5 (5-2 in 2A South – 2A Quarterfinals)

Richfield coaching history

2014-current — Erik Thorson (10-21)

2008-2013 — Corey Morrison (37-28)

2005-2007 — Seth Giddings (12-18)

2000-2004 — Dave Clark (11-38)

1995-1999 — Corey Morrison (3-40)

1989-1994 — Randy Madsen (24-31)

1983-1988 — Paul Messersmith (50-17)

1982 — Larry Estep (4-5)

1979-1981 — Paul Tidwell (20-12)

1973-1978 — Nyle Norris (37-29)

1969-1972 — Gary Roylance (29-13-1)

1967-1968 — Ronald Pierce (1-16)

1966 — Ken Sampson (1-7)

1965 — Unknown (1-6-1)

1963-1964 — Andy Anderson (8-7-1)

1957-1962 — Art Nielson (12-34-3)

1955-1956 — Darwin Woodbury (2-12)

1943-1954 — Clive Roberts (1-7)

1937-1942 — Unknown (13-16-1)

1931-1936 — Joe Buys (28-14-1)

1925-1930 — Paul Packard (17-16)

1922-1924 — Unknown (6-7-3)

1921 — Harry Casey (5-1-1)

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2015 — Jensen Magleby, WR

2013 — Brodie Ellis, RB

2013 — Shay Morrison, DL

2013 — Riley Cunningham, DB

2012 — Shay Morrison, TE/DE

2011 — Braden Hampton, RB/DB

2011 — Justus Clark, OL/DL

2010 — Robert Torgerson, DL

2008 — J.D. Michaelsen, WR/DE

2007 — Tyler Tuttle, FB/LB

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