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High school football: Granger Lancers 2019 preview

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Note: Granger finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2018 and was fourth in Region 2 with a 1-3 record. It lost to Weber 35-14 in the 6A first round.

Granger’s 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

WEST VALLEY CITY — Times are changing at Granger High School.

The Lancers hired a new head coach, Pala Vaitu’u, to take over the football program.

“So far, I’m loving admin and their support, I’m loving the facilities, and then I love the type of kids that we got here. That was one of the biggest draws that got me here is the type of kids we’ve got here,” Vaitu’usaid.

Vaitu’u and his staff will be changing the offense, going from a double-wing offense to a spread offense.

“Here at Granger, one of the biggest challenges is teaching them the spread, because they were a double-wing team for the last four years, so they were basically 95% run, and now we’ll be going into spread where we are more 50-50,” Vaitu’u said. 

Granger is inexperienced, but its coach likes the buy-in the players have shown so far.

 “It’s been beautiful. They’ve all bought in, they’re all in, they’re ready to work, they all show up. They’re changing the culture here, and they’re funny. They’re happy kids,” Vaitu’u said.

Granger Lancers at a glance

Coach: Pala Vaitu’u is entering his first year as head coach of Granger.

Vaitu’u’s comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“I’m a traditional guy, where you kind of like to earn your way into the playoffs, so that’s kind of how I feel. Whatever rules come up, you adapt to them. Because that is a set rule, I’m happy. It gets everyone a chance to get into the playoffs, kind of get that feel for the playoffs.”

Granger offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Ulualo Vaitu’u

2018 offensive production: 23.3 ppg (14th in 6A)

— 2 returning starters

— Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

— Michael Magallanes (OL)

Magallanes will be anchoring the offensive line this year.

— Ammon Tavai (RB)

Tavai will be key for Granger this season. He rushed for 833 yards and nine touchdowns last season. 

Returning offensive starters

Michael Magallanes (OL)

Ammon Tavai (RB)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Macc Fualaau (QB)

Tonga Falemaka (WR)

Dion Fue (WR)

Vaitu’u’s comments on quarterback Macc Fualaau:

“He was a linebacker last year, never played quarterback in his life ever before, so it’s been a big, big transition for him to be a quarterback, but he’s coming along. Every day he improves, he gets better. With those new rules, we just need him to be ready by week 10 in playoffs. We have that time to build him.”

Vaitu’u’s comments on running back Ammon Tavai:

“We’re going to be leaning on him a lot this year. He’s a special talent. The first guy will never tackle him — he always makes the first guy miss. A lot of the times, the second guys will miss him, also. He’s that type of talent we have in the backfield.”

Vaitu’u’s comments on wide receivers:

“We have Tonga Falemaka, who we’re making all-time wide receiver, he’ll be our ‘X’ receiver. He’s good. We have Salvador Colorado, who he’s a soccer player, he’s never played football, probably one of the fastest guys on our team. He’ll be playing slot. Again, he’s the same thing as our quarterback, we have time to teach him. Dion Fue, who’s a freshman, he’ll be playing the other slot also.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

Vaitu’u’s keys to offensive success is a balanced offense.

Granger defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Uona Kavaenga

2018 defensive production: 36.4 ppg (19th in 4A)

— 2 returning starters

— 3-4 defense

Key defensive returning starters

— Tevita Finau (SS) 

Had 20 tackles a season ago.

— Tonga Falemaka (DB)

Had seven tackles last year.

Returning defensive starters

Tevita Finau (SS)

Tonga Falemaka (DB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Dion Fue (S)

Desmond Fue (LB)

Tiger Laita (CB)

Vaitu’u’s comments on defensive line:

“Defensive line looking pretty good with Fetaiaki Manuatu, he’s going to be a senior.”

Vaitu’u’s comments on secondary:

“At corner, we’ve got Tiger Laita and Landon Bates; they’re coming along well. Our safeties will be Andrew Fleischel, he’s a basketball player, this will be his first time playing football. He’s going to be our safety with the freshman Dion (Fue), so our secondary is looking good, and they’re young, so that whole secondary will come back next year.”

Vaitu’u’s comments on football newcomers:

“Just working on their individual skill, working on their position-specific skill. These kids, they work. They’re here in the morning and then they come back for practice, and even in between, they’re working on their skill on their own or with other guys. They’re constantly working, so that’s what I like about this team. They put a lot of hours in on their own, outside of what we have scheduled, to get better at their specific position.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

The key for defensive success for Granger will be if it can get the new players up to speed — fast. 

Coaches preseason Region 2 straw poll: Sixth

Deseret News Region 2 prediction: Sixth

Key region game: vs. Kearns, Oct. 4 (Week 8)

Bottom line:

This season could be a challenge for Granger. The Lancers don’t have many returning starters and some players are playing football for the first time. It will be an uphill battle for Granger as they build towards the future,

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — at Highland, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — HUNTER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — CYPRUS, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at West Jordan, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 — at West, 7 p.m.

.......

Felts Facts for Granger High School

All-time record: 267-330-5 (61 years)

Region championships: 9 (1967, 1976 co, 1977 co, 1985, 1987 co, 1988, 1989 co, 1995, 1999 co)

Playoff appearances: 28

Current playoff appearance streak: 2

All-time playoff record: 13-28

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-0

Most played rivalry: 47 meetings with Cyprus dating back to 1958. Granger leads 27-20-1.

Felt’s Factoids: Granger combined with Highland to set a state record for the most points in the shortest time: 33 points in just 55 seconds of game time (five touchdowns and three PATs in the last 0:55 of the third quarter) in 1996. … Lancer Fahu Tahi held the career rushing yard record, 5,663, set from 1996-98 until Jordan’s Austin Kafentzis broke it. ... A pair of Lancers hold state records: Sam Chapman recovered 10 fumbles by opponents in 1982 and Chad Bennett blocked 10 kicks (six punts and four PATs) during the 1995 season.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 3-7 (1-3 in Region 2 — 6A first round)
  • 2017 — 2-8 (2-2 in Region 2 — 6A first round)
  • 2016 — 6-5 (3-3 in Region 2 — missed playoffs)
  • 2015 — 4-6 (2-4 in Region 2 — missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 1-9 (0-5 in Region 2 — missed playoffs)

...

Granger coaching history

  • 2019 — Pala Vaitu’u (0-0)
  • 2014-2018 — Mike Morgan (16-35)
  • 2012-2013 — Cecil Thomas (7-4)
  • 2011 — Alex Gehrke (6-4)
  • 2009-2010 — Doyle Holt (4-16)
  • 2007-2008 — Johnny Matich (4-16)
  • 2004-2006 — Richard Grosh (8-25)
  • 2000-2003 — Dan Eckert (11-30)
  • 1990-1999 — Ray Groth (55-71)
  • 1982-1989 — Mike Fraser (57-21)
  • 1980-1981 — Gordon Hanks (8-12)
  • 1974-1979 — Unknown (30-31)
  • 1973 — Perry Gillette (1-9)
  • 1967-1972 — Ken Griener (32-21)
  • 1964-1966 — Jay Rasmussen (12-12)
  • 1962-1963 — Carl Ebert (2-16)
  • 1958-1961 — Don Rydalch (12-21)

….

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2017 — Mosese Sonasi, TB
  • 2013 — Kenyon Frison, OL

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