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High school football: Cyprus Pirates 2016 preview

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Note: Cyprus finished with a 2-8 overall record in 2015 and tied for fourth in Region 6 with a 1-4 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.

Cyprus 2015 offensive and defensive stats

MAGNA — Jed Smith is not shying away from adversity. In fact, he is embracing it.

When Smith accepted the head coaching job at Cyprus prior to the 2015 season after three years as a wide receivers and secondary coach at Spanish Fork, he knew it wouldn’t be and easy job. However, in his first year he was able to help his team earn two wins, which may not sound like much but was an improvement from the previous year’s winless season.

The process of building up the program and helping it grow is what intrigued Smith and his brother, who is his offensive coordinator, and is something that they are working to do every day.

“I learned really quickly that it was one of the programs that was really hurting more than any others in the state,” Smith said. “Honestly that is what attracted me and my brother to the job as we looked at what we wanted to do. It’s been really fun to come here and try to build it from really below ground level.”

For the Pirates, improvement is coming from various sources, but most notably from a new optimistic attitude and culture and some solid new athletes that in the past were not eligible to play. The latter has stemmed from Smith’s efforts to help kids become eligible through a program that he and his staff have implemented at the school.

The program is something Smith calls “Sports Ethics Squad” and is basically an hour-long program throughout the school year for football players to work on academics, learn about career and college readiness, build character, and more. Through the program, several athletes have been helped to become academically and behaviorally eligible to participate in athletics.

“We feel like we’ve really won the battle (against kids being ineligible),” Smith said. “We’ve got kids who were never playing or participating due to eligibility, and they’re in our program working with us now and we wouldn’t have had them otherwise.”

As far as changing the culture, Smith and his staff have created a fun environment in which kids are excited to participate and be a part of the football team.

It’s just creating a culture where the kids want to be here,” Smith said. “We work hard and we play hard. So we try to do that to create a fun atmosphere where kids can come and work, and a big part of that is being positive with the kids and building them up.”

As for the on-field performance, the Pirates expect to see advances from last season on both sides of the ball.

On offense, the Pirates will have several players who saw reps last year and hope that they can take make improvements this year, most notably quarterback Brooks Marshall and running back Soujah Gasu. Smith hopes that both will have successful seasons, especially now that the offensive line should be improved this year.

Defensively, Omar Campos returns at linebacker to lead the way while Ricky Garo and TJ Palu will help fortify the front seven at linebacker and defensive lineman, respectively.

Additionally, Smith hopes his team will benefit from a more reasonable schedule. In 2015, Cyprus faced a tough preseason schedule with games against 5A schools Granger, Copper Hills and Hunter, and another game against 4A powerhouse Alta.

The Pirates escaped with one win through those four games, but Smith believes that with a schedule more suited to his team’s level of competition, his team should have more confidence entering region play and in turn be more successful.

“This year, it’s not that we are playing horrible teams, it just that we are playing teams that are more in our realm,” Smith said of his preseason schedule that includes Grantsville, Park City, Copper Hills and Pine View. “When we hit region, we expect to have some confidence and the mindset to go out and win, and there is nothing short of winning region that is our goal.”

Cyprus Pirates at a glance

Coach: Jed Smith is entering his second year as head coach at Cyprus with a record of 2-8. He is a graduate of Rocky Mountain High School in Wyoming and Snow College and Utah Valley University.

Offense (4 returning starters; mix of pro style and spread offenses)

Offensive coordinator: Colter Smith

Returning offensive starters

Brooks Marshall, QB

Alex Trevino, OG

Offensive newcomers to watch

Soujah Gasu, RB

Manny Ramirez, OT

Edgar Breton, TE

Sione Vaka, OT

Asher Pollack, WR

Defense (5 returning starters; 4-3 base defense)

Defensive coordinator: DJ Senter

Returning defensive starters

TJ Palu, DL

Omar Campos, LB

Ricky Garo, LB

Defensive newcomers to watch

Alex Langtree, S

Josh Amasio, S

Coaches' preseason Region 6 straw poll: Sixth

Deseret News Region 6 prediction: Sixth

Bottom line: In his first year as head coach, Jed Smith helped Cyprus improve from no wins in 2014 to two wins last year and should be able to help the team boost its win total again. The Pirates may struggle again in a tough Region 6, but they are on an upward slope and will keep improving.

Last 5

2015 — 2-8 (1-4 in Region 6 — Missed playoffs)

2014 — 0-10 (0-6 in Region 6 — Missed playoffs)

2013 — 3-7 (1-5 in Region 6 — Missed playoffs)

2012 — 5-5 (1-4 in Region 6 — Missed playoffs)

2011 — 0-9 (0-5 in Region 6 — Missed playoffs)

Cyprus coaching history

2015-current — Jed Smith (2-8)

2012-2014 — Scott Wooldridge (8-22)

2009-2011 — Brian Jacketta (4-25)

2000-2008 — Sonny Sudbury (45-52)

1995-1999 — Dave Peck (20-30)

1986-1994 — Jerry Simonson (34-53)

1979-1985 — Billy Hunter (33-33)

1975-1978 — Don Conrad (17-20)

1973-1974 — Tom Crittenden (5-11)

1966-1972 — Glen Rupp (28-37)

1961-1965 — Howard Condie (14-28)

1953-1960 — Lex McKee (26-39)

1948-1952 — Roy Mercer (31-12)

1945-1947 — Unknown (13-8)

1944 — Bill Cowley (7-1)

1942-1943 — Unknown (5-8)

1941 — Gus Papanikolas (1-6)

1940 — Ronald Sleator (1-6)

1931-1939 — Russell Magleby (23-37)

1930 — Glen Worthington (3-3)

1927-1929 — Unknown (5-10)

1926 — Mr. Walker (5-2)

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years


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