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High school football: Tooele Buffaloes 2019 preview

Note: Tooele finished with a 3-8 overall record in 2018 and was tied for fourth in Region 11 with a 2-3 record. It lost to Orem 68-12 in the 4A first round.

Tooele 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

TOOELE — One of the first people new Tooele coach Andru Jones called when he was hired as head coach back in January was former coach Kyle Brady.

Brady was a Tooele alum who played college football at the University of Utah and then came back to coach his alma mater from 2011 to 2016. He helped turn a struggling program around and got the team to the semifinals in 2015 and then the quarterfinals with a 9-2 record in 2016.

Under a different coach the past two years the record dipped back below .500, and Jones wanted to pick Brady’s brain for ideas and suggestions on what worked when he was head coach.

“He had success in his time there and I kind of gravitated to his philosophy when he was there cause he was a Tooele alum and he understood those kids,” said Jones.

Even though Tooele only has nine seniors this season, Jones said the buy-in has been great this summer and everyone is excited about getting the program pointed upward again.

There’s a big learning curve offensively as the team switches from a Wing-T to a spread type of offense, but Jones said the players have gradually been picking things up as he took them to as many 7-on-7 camps as possible this summer.

Jones said that even though his base offensive philosophy is the spread, he caters the offense to the strengths of the team and never forces things, so expect the offense to evolve a bit through the season as the coaching gets more familiar with the personnel.

Defensively he said Tooele will have a very fast, aggressive defense that could cause problems for a lot of offenses in the region.

“The numbers are up and the turnout has been great and we feel like we’re ready to take the next step this season,” said Jones.

Tooele Buffaloes at a glance

Coach: Andru Jones is entering his first year as head coach at Tooele High School. He previous was the head coach at Layton Christian for three years where his teams put together a 16-16 record. He’s a graduate of Northridge High School.

Jones comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“I’m excited for it 'cause it’s different. I’m a coach that likes change. Obviously there’s going to be things they’ll need to tweak down the road. I’m intrigued in seeing how it goes. I’m intrigued that everyone gets a shot. I think you’re going to get better first-round games as a result.

Tooele Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Andru Jones

2018 offensive production: 23.4 ppg (16th in 4A)

-- Three returning starters

-- Multiple offenses

Key offensive returning starters

-- Kulani Iongi (QB)

Passed for 1,494 yards and eight TDs last year, but with a new offense he figures to have a much more productive season.

-- Nukuluve Helu (FB)

Carried the ball 99 times for 941 yards and 16 TDs and he’ll take on an even bigger role this year.

Returning offensive starters

Kulani Iongi (QB)

Nukuluve Helu (RB)

Gavin Ware (WR/RB)

Jared Jackson (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Joseph Wilkins (WR)

Josh Prescott (WR)

Joseph Douglas (TE)

Anthony Cole (RB)

Tabor Shepard (RB)

Cole Murray (OL)

Bridger Chaplin (OL)

Adrien Lovato (OL)

Jones comments on returning QB Kulani Iongi:

“Our biggest thing with Kulani was get him in 7 on 7 and help him with his reads and see his vision and then we can help him and teach him and coach him where we need to go with offense. He had a great offseason with it. When we went to the Weber State tournament he only threw two picks in seven games. He started understanding it real quick. He’s a very intelligent kid. He’s a very big kid, he weighs in about 215. He’s the captain of our rugby team out there so he’s kind of a physical quarterback that we’ll be able to run a little more. He also has a great long ball and we take shots when we can.”

Jones comments on running back Nukuluve Helu:

“Obviously people know we’re going to feature him and give him his carries. He only had 99 carries last year and we’re really going to up it. He’s going to get his carries when we want to get into our run mode. A lot of people know about him and he’s as good as advertised. Great kid, one of the best running backs I’ve ever got to coach.”

Jones comments on returning receiver Gavin Ware:

“He’s a three-sport athlete who’s really athletic. He’s a 400 runner. We can kind of move him everywhere. He’ll play a receiver, he’ll play in the backfield, he’s kind of a do-it-all kind of kid.”

Jones comments on new tight end Joseph Douglas:

“He was a backup quarterback last year and he kind of decided he just wanted to get on the field and we turned him into a tight end. He’ll be one of our best receivers. He’s a 6-foot-3, 215 tight end.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

New head coach Andru Jones calls the offense, and he believes he has great playmakers to work with in drawing up a game plan each week. The key is to let those playmakers do their thing. He said it’s important to keep defenses from loading the box so his playmakers have room to create. Kulani Iongi can do his part as well if he’s able to use his big arm to hit on the intermediate and deep passes to his receivers.

Tooele Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Corley Ward

2018 defensive production: 34.9 ppg (21st in 4A)

-- Four returning starters

-- 4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

-- Gavin Ware (S)

Ranked sixth on the team in tackles last season and big things are expected of him again at the safety position.

-- Nukuluve Helu (LB)

The BYU commit was second on the team at linebacker last season, and the tremendous athlete will anchor the linebacking corps for the Buffaloes.

Returning defensive starters

Nukuluve Helu (LB)

Gavin Ware (S)

Joseph Wilkins (DB)

Finefeuiaki Maumau (DL)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Paea Tone (DL)

Devin Murphy (DE)

Dominique Ascraft (DE)

Joseph Douglas (DL)

Adrien Lovato (LB)

Ty Sutherland (LB)

Josh Prescott (CB)

Kameron Rolle (CB)

Mateaki Helu (S)

Jones comments on strong, young defensive line:

“Our D-line is really, really good. They’re all juniors, so they’ll be back for another year. Finefeuiaki Maumau is phenomenal, he’s going to be a name a lot of people don’t know about but will be a kid to watch down the road."

Jones comments on corner back Kameron Rolle:

“He’s only a junior. He’s a kid that we can put on an opponent’s best receiver. He’s very athletic. He was a move-in late last year and he wasn’t able to play. He’s a move-in from Denver. He’s a great little athlete.”

Jones comments on big expectations from freshman Mateaki Helu:

“He’s going to be as good or better than his older brother. He’s dynamic. He’ll come with the boom, he’s a fresh who’s 6-foot, 190. He’s not a little freshman. In our first 7 on 7 this summer he had our first pick. The kid is one of the best athletes. He’s already been offered.”

Jones comments on defensive swagger:

“Coach Corley Ward has done an unbelievable job with our D and changing the physicality of it, getting to the ball, trying to get turnovers, jumping around, whooping and hollering. They have a little bit of a swag to them and it gets a lot of people upset. We’ve had some upset practices because our starting O-line goes against our starting D-line and it gets ugly. It’s fun to see that change in our defense throughout the summer.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

As athletic and talented as Jones said his defense is, at the end of the day it’s still a young group. The entire defensive line will be underclassmen, while the secondary will feature multiple underclassmen as well. It may take the defense a bit of time to adjust to the speed of varsity play but once it does this group could be very good.

Coaches preseason Region 10 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 10 prediction: Fourth

Key Region Game: at Stansbury, Sept. 13 (Week 5)

Bottom line

There’s a genuine excitement heading into the 2019 season and for good reason. This is a talented team with speed and physicality that should be able to compete with any team in Region 10. The next step, which is always the hardest, is putting all of those intangibles together to win football games. This group isn’t used to winning and it may take some time for it to figure out how to win games in the fourth quarter. A Week 1 game at an experienced Green Canyon team will be a great first test for the Buffaloes.

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — at Green Canyon, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — GRANTSVILLE, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — MINICO, IDAHO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — at Ben Lomond, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — at Stansbury, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — OGDEN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — CEDAR VALLEY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — at Uintah, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — PARK CITY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Mountain View, 7 p.m.


Felt’s Facts for Tooele High School

All-time record: 410-475-20 (103 years)

Region championships: 20 (1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1962, 1985, 1988 co, 2001, 2002, 2016 co)

Playoff appearances: 39

Current playoff appearance streak: 6 (2013-2018)

All-time playoff record: 32-34

State championships: 5 (1928, 1929, 1933, 1937, 2002)

State championship record: 4-3

Most played rivalry: 69 meetings with Cyprus going back to 1926, with Tooele leading 36-30-3.

Felt’s Factoids: Tooele is tied with two other teams for the most shutouts in one season with 10 (1929). ... Buffaloes Bill Lamb and Doug Wolters each returned two punts for touchdowns — four total TDs — against Jordan in a 1962 game. The following week, Lamb returned two more punts for scores, this time against Bingham. … Kyle Brady snared 31 interceptions from 2000-2002, the second-most career interceptions in state history.


Last 5

  • 2018 — 3-8 (2-3 in Region 11 – 4A First round)
  • 2017 — 5-6 (3-2 in Region 11 - 4A First round)
  • 2016 — 9-2 (6-1 in 3AA North – 3A Quarterfinals)
  • 2015 — 8-4 (5-1 in 3AA North – 3A Semifinals)
  • 2014 — 7-4 (4-2 in 3AA North – 3AA First round)


Tooele coaching history

  • 2019 — Andru Jones (0-0)
  • 2017-2018 — Jeff Lewis (8-14)
  • 2011-2016 — Kyle Brady (28-36)
  • 2008-2010 — Ray Groth (7-22)
  • 2005-2007 — Sam Elliott (16-16)
  • 2004 — Doug Harding (3-8)
  • 2000-2003 — Tyler Anderson (28-17)
  • 1993-1999 — Rick Harrison (17-51)
  • 1988-1992 — Lee Leslie (25-26)
  • 1987 — Unknown (2-7)
  • 1983-1986 — Larry Harison (16-20)
  • 1981-1982 — DeLayne Richart (2-16)
  • 1977-1980 — Sonny Sudbury (7-28)
  • 1972-1976 — Dick Raben (13-30)
  • 1968-1971 — Dave Bray (15-23-1)
  • 1967 — Newell Sorensen (6-3)
  • 1954 -1966 — Dean Stringham (58-53-3)
  • 1950-1953 — Harold "Butch" Gutke (26-8-2)
  • 1949 — Johnny Putnik (7-2)
  • 1946-1948 — Bob Orr (7-12-2)
  • 1942-1945 — Unknown (9-18-3)
  • 1941 — Bill Cowley (2-8)
  • 1940 — Unknown (2-6)
  • 1937-1939 — Dan Gillespie (16-11-2)
  • 1932-1936 — Unknown (28-9-3)
  • 1928-1931 — Sterling Harris (30-5)
  • 1919-1927 — Unknown (25-20-3)
  • 1918 — Mr. Andrew
  • 1917 — J. W. West (4-1-1)
  • 1915-1916 — Unknown (3-5)


Deseret News Mr. Football recipients

  • 2002 — Kyle Brady, DB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Nukuluve Helu, FB
  • 2016 — Slate Groskreutz, OT
  • 2016 — Jaren Wilson, OG
  • 2016 — Lincoln Powers, ATH
  • 2015 — Ryan Brady, RB
  • 2015 — Donnevin Glaser, OL

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