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High school football: Cyprus Pirates 2019 preview

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Note: Cyprus finished with a 7-3 overall record in 2018 and was third in Region 2 with a 2-2 record. It lost to Fremont 35-7 in the 6A first round.

Cyprus 2018 offensive and defensive stats

MAGNA — Cyprus has a new head coach in charge. Tyler Garcia will enter his first season as head coach of Cyprus this year.

“Some of the challenges of being a first-year head coach is getting to know your players. You don’t have the luxury of knowing what’s coming up. I have to spend a lot of time figuring out who they are, where they fit in grades and all of that kind of stuff,” Garcia said.

Garcia graduated from Cyprus High School, where he also played football, so he is no stranger to the school. It is a homecoming of sorts for him, and with that, comes extra pressure.

“This has always been my home and one of my goals in life when I graduated from here was to come back and be the head coach. I didn’t think that opportunity was going to present itself, it did, so it’s kind of surreal. Exciting, but also a little scary. There’s a pressure. Growing up here, people know who you are and there’s a certain level of expectation they have, so living up to that,” Garcia said.

One of the toughest parts of being a new head coach is forming relationships and bonds with the athletes before the seasons starts and getting them to trust you, and Garcia is working on that every day.

“It’s been mixed. I think it’s hard when you have a coaching staff that perceptually isn’t ready to leave, meaning that the kids aren’t ready for them to leave, they vested a lot into them, the senior class has been very loyal to them. It’s been mixed. They’re excited for the challenges, but you can tell they miss the old coaching staff,” Garcia said.

Team at a glance

Coach: Tyler Garcia enters his first year at the helm of Cyprus. He is a graduate of Cyprus High School.

Garcia’s comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“I think it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, if the people that are heavily supporting it see the result that they’re wanting to see. I think it creates a whole other set of challenges and I really think that it can be an evolving process — it shouldn’t be a one-and-done, this is how we’re going to do it. I think it needs to be something that evolves, taking into consideration region play as well.”

Team offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Jordan Wager

2018 offensive production: 32.8 ppg (3rd in 6A)

— 5 returning starters

— Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

Parker Meldrum (QB)

Meldrum had a good year last season, throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and a 13-to-5 touchdown to interception ratio. Meldrum has his top two targets in Da’Vousie Zissi and Jordan Orozco returning, so Meldrum could be set up to take a step up from last season.

Jaxson Garcia (OL)

Garcia is the lone offensive line starter returning, but he's a key offensive lineman to have. A 2018 Deseret News first team all-stater, there will be no one better for the new offensive linemen to learn from.

Returning offensive starters

Jaxson Garcia (OL)

Parker Meldrum (QB)

Da’Vousie Zissi (WR)

Jh’Dhan Lester (RB)

Isaia Faatau (WR)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Adrian Banuelos (WR)

Garcia’s comments on Parker Meldrum:

“I’m excited for him, I’m excited to see what he can do with our offensive system that we’re putting in. I certainly am glad that he’s on my sideline now because calling defense against him was challenging at times. It’s been fun watching him grow and become a three-year starter from the other side of the fence, and now I’m on this side of the fence. He’s a great kid. My only expectation for him is that he continues to work hard and he gives his best effort, which I have no doubt that he will.”

Garcia’s comments on wide receivers:

“Jordan Orozco is returning and he’s starting to get the hang of our new offensive system. Da’Vousie (Zissi) is fitting well into the system and Isaia Faatau is fitting well into it. It’s looking pretty good. I’m like what I see and only time will tell how good we can get. We just have to get better each day and see where we end up.”

Garcia’s comments on running backs:

“We have a returning running back, Jh’Dhan Lester, and he’s a pretty good athlete. He’s also a junior, so he’ll have two years in this system, and then we have some great underclassmen below him that are really hard workers. Overall, we’re going to be inexperienced and work hard and see where our hard work gets us.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

Garcia said that his keys to offensive success are discipline, execution and effort. Quarterback Meldrum and returning top receivers Zissi and Orozco should be able to connect often. The big question mark for Cyprus is the offensive line, with only one offensive line starter from last year returning.

Team defensive Ssnapshot

Defensive coordinator: Tyler Garcia

2018 defensive production: 25.1 ppg (11th in 6A)

— 3 returning starters

— 4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

Robby Balboa (LB)

Last season, Balboa was top three on the team in terms of tackles, with 41. He also added a sack. This year, Balboa will be moving to linebacker.

Albert Reyes (LB)

Reyes will be another player returning at linebacker. Reyes totaled 19 tackles last season.

Returning defensive starters

Robby Balboa (LB)

Albert Reyes (LB)

Johnny Su’a (DB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Da’Vousie Zissi

Isaia Faatau

Logan Timpson

Dakota Garreaud

Garcia’s comments on Robby Balboa:

“We moved him positions. Time will tell, he’s a better fit at the linebacker position than he is at defensive back, which he played last year. From him, I expect a lot of discipline and a lot of hard work. I’m not looking for him to be the playmaker, I’m just looking for him to do his job.”

Garcia’s comments on the 4-3 defense:

“We run a 4-3, modular type of defense, so we adjust, obviously, to the formations that we see. I think the benefits to that is we try to minimize the holes in the defense. Traditionally, if you stick with a 4-3 against any formation, you create mismatches and disadvantages and we’re trying to be modular to where we may look the same but our responsibilities be a little bit different to minimize those gaps that the offense might try to exploit.”

Garcia’s comments on newcomers getting acclimated to the defensive system:

“They really just have to work hard. Defense is really, more so than anything, about effort. Knowing where you need to be and getting there with your best effort. If these guys will play team defense and get 11 players to the ball every time, good things will happen for them.”

Keys for defensive success in 2018:

Garcia said, like offense, that his keys to defensive success are discipline, execution and effort. The linebacker core looks strong, but the Cyprus defense as a whole is inexperienced. The success of the Pirates’ defense hinges on if new defensive players can get up to speed.

Coaches preseason Region 2 straw poll: Fourth

Deseret News Region 2 prediction: Fifth

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

Bottom line: While Cyprus returns starters at key positions on offense (Meldrum, = Zissi and Orozco), the offensive line is a big question mark. On defense, the Pirates have to replace some key talent and are relativity inexperienced. The season will depend on how good the newcomers will be.

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — at Murray, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — RIDGELINE, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — WEST, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — TAYLORSVILLE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Granger, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17 — at Kearns, 7 p.m.


Felt’s Facts for Cyprus High School

All-time record: 342-468-25 (92 years)

Region championships: 8 (1944, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1971, 1977 co, 1990, 2000)

Playoff appearances: 92

Current playoff appearance streak: 2

All-time playoff record: 12-28

State championships: 1 (1944)

State championship record: 1-3

Most played rivalry: 76 meetings with Murray dating back to 1926. Murray leads 41-32-4.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Although they haven’t played Bingham since 1992, the Pirates can claim one thing over the powerhouse Miners, a 24-21-8 series advantage.


Last five

2018 — 7-3 (2-2 in Region 2 — 6A first round)

2017 — 4-6 (1-3 in Region 2 — 6A first round)

2016 — 1-8 (0-5 in Region 6 — missed playoffs)

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

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


Cyprus coaching history

2019 — Tyler Garcia (0-0)

2015-2018 — Jed Smith (14-25)

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

2018 — Jaxon Garcia, OL

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