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High school football: Woods Cross Wildcats 2019 preview

Note: Woods Cross finished with a 2-8 overall record in 2018 and was sixth in Region 5 with a 0-5 record. It did not qualify for the 5A playoffs.

Woods Cross 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

WOODS CROSS — Heading into the 2018 season, the Woods Cross Wildcats had serious expectations. Picked to finish second and third, respectively, in Region 5 — by a straw poll of all region coaches and the Deseret News — the Wildcats believed themselves capable of winning a region championship.

“Our ultimate goal, all this work we put in is to win a championship,” Woods Cross head coach Andrew Fresques told the Deseret News prior to last season. “That’s our ultimate goal, to win a championship. I don’t see anyone putting in all these hours, all this work just to say, ‘Hey, we want to win a few games or just go to the playoffs,’ we want to win it all.”

Things didn't go as planned, however.

The Wildcats struggled throughout much of the 2018 season and finished 2-8 overall, winless in region play, and it was all the result of a seemingly endless run of injuries.

“That was more (injuries) than I have ever had in 16 years of high school football,” Fresques said.

The injuries, the setbacks, it all ultimately may prove a blessing in disguise.

The Wildcats enter this season with a wealth of experience and a newfound approach.

“I am very excited, because we have a lot of experience,” Fresques said. “It wasn’t just mop-up duty either. Guys were in there in the first quarter of games because of those injuries. For us, we want to be more mentally tough. Injuries are a part of the game, and yeah, that is more than I have ever had, but it’ll happen this year. We will have injuries, hopefully not as many, but it is always next man up and guys have to be ready to go. If you are a 2 or 3 you can’t take it easy. You never know when you have to be a 1 and that is how we are preparing everyone.”

Everything, the returning experience and the new mental approach, has the Wildcats eyeing big things once again.

“I think it bodes well for us,” Fresques said. “It will be a battle, but we could have won any single region game last year and we return a lot. There isn’t a frontrunner (in Region 5), so why not us.”

Woods Cross Wildcats at a glance

Coach: Andrew Fresques is about to being his third year as the head coach of Woods Cross. He has a 9-13 overall record with the Wildcats. Fresques is a graduate of Northridge High School and the University of Utah.

Coach Fresques comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“Yeah, that’ll be a work in progress. We’ll see. Bottom line for me, everyone gets in (to the playoffs). Everyone gets in. A lot of times our mentality has been to just get in a see what happens. I know my first year here we hit our stride towards the end of the season, so we’ll see how it goes, but I like the idea of giving everyone a shot. Then there is no complaining, there is no ‘we didn’t get a shot,’ but we’ll see.”

Woods Cross Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Andrew Fresques

2018 offensive production: 28.8 ppg (10th in 5A)

— 5 returning starters

— Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

— Charles Rasband (OL)

Is one of three offensive linemen who return for the Wildcats. Will help lead a group expected to be one of the strengths for Woods Cross football.

— Luke Hyde (WR)

Was one of the Wildcats top three pass catchers in 2018. He hauled in 25 balls for 373 totals yards and six touchdowns. Was at his best against Northridge, when he had 117 yards and three touchdowns.

Returning offensive starters

Josh Larsen (OL)

Charles Rasband (OL)

Braden Freestone (WR)

Luke Hyde (WR)

Dayven Kinsey (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Carter Weierman (QB)

Roman Sanone (WR)

Sam Fisi (RB)

Hayden Gregersen (WR)

Jonah Johnson (WR)

Cole Wardle (RB)

Coach Fresques’ comments on the Wildcats’ quarterback competition:

“Carter Weirman is the No. 1, but we have a lot of quarterback competition. We were scrimmaging teams during the summer and they’d say, ‘You have six to eight different quarterbacks,’ and I’d go ‘Yeah, we are training up some quarterbacks.’ They are young behind Carter right now, but they are good.”

Coach Fresques’ comments on offensive line:

“We talk about it all the time, and quarterbacks and skill guys get a lot of the credit — their names are in the paper — but games are won in the trenches. I don’t care if you run a spread offense or triple option, games are won in the trenches. Our line is definitely the strength of our team and we are going to lean on them. Some of those guys have started for two years, since they were sophomores, so we are very excited about that. They are a close-knit group, which I like, and as linemen should be.”

Coach Fresques’ comments on the Wildcats’ skill players:

“We have a ton of skill which I love. We have depth at running back, we have some really good ones, so we are going to be running back by committee. At wide receiver, Freestone started last year, Luke Hyde was a freshman and he played a lot. He is electric. A lot of those guys played. Honestly I hope teams will favor one guy because we’ll beat them somewhere else.”

Keys for Offensive Success in 2019:

The Wildcats are well-situated to have a great year on the offensive side of the ball, with a chance to improve upon their 2018 showing, which was 10th best in 5A. The offensive line will be a strength, with three returning starters, and there are skill position players aplenty as well. How quarterback Carter Weierman pans out, as well as the running back by committee approach, will go a long way in determining just how successful Woods Cross is.

Woods Cross Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Kitt Rawlings

2018 defensive production: 35.3 ppg (22nd in 5A)

— 4 returning starters

— 4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

— Michael Mokofisi (DL)

Had 57 tackles as one of the preeminent linemen on defense for Woods Cross. Had his best game against Box Elder, when he recorded 10 tackles.

— Carson Miller (LB)

Recorded 82 tackles and three sacks last season. The tackles were the second most totaled by any Wildcats, trailing only Askete Alofipo and his 87. Miller’s three sacks also tied him for second most on the team.

Returning defensive starters

Carson Miller (LB)

Sam Stone (DB)

Michael Mokofisi (DL)

Matt Eason (LB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Thomas Hills (CB)

Evan Blanchard (LB)

Sam Stone (CB)

Josh Davis (LB)

Angel Salas (DL)

Coach Fresques’ comments on Wildcats’ defensive line:

“We have some depth (at defensive line), but we don’t have a ton of numbers or the biggest kids in the world. We will have a lot of our big guys play both O-line and D-line, but we have some underclassmen who’ll play, some sophomores and juniors.”

Coach Fresques’ comments on the back end of the Woods Cross defense:

“Honestly, I really think they are equal. I feel great about our back end, our DBs and our linebackers. We have a couple returning starters there and on our D-line too. We are excited about all three of those groups, the back end, the linebackers and up front.”

Keys for Defensive Success in 2019:

The Wildcats return starters at every level of the defense, which only bodes well for the improvement of the group. Woods Cross did not boast an elite defense in 2018, but appears well-situated to take a significant step forward. Development along the defensive line will go a long way in making that step forward happen.

Bottom line

The Wildcats had a rough 2018 campaign, in large part due to injuries. Those injuries may prove a blessing in disguise, however, as Woods Cross is deep and experienced heading into the season. Barring another barrage of injuries, the Wildcats should challenge for the region title and possibly more.

Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Fifth

Key Region Game: at Viewmont, Oct. 11 (Week 9)

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — at Westlake, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — at Northridge, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — TIMPANOGOS, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — BOUNTIFUL, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — FARMINGTON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Bonneville, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — GREEN CANYON, 7 p.m.

….

Felts Facts for Woods Cross High School

All-time record: 173-247 (42 years)

Region championships: 3 (1988 co, 2012 co, 2014)

Playoff appearances: 18

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 16-18

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-0

Most played rivalry: 41 meetings with Bountiful dating back to 1979. Bountiful leads 31-10.

Felt’s Factoid: When Kitt Rawlings rushed for 423 yards in a game in 1989, no one knew if that was a state record or not — prompting research that led to compiling a history and records of Utah prep football. Incidentally, Rawlings missed the record by 11 yards and now ranks fifth.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 2-8 (0-5 in Region 5 – Missed playoffs)
  • 2017 — 7-5 (2-2 in Region 5 – 5A Quarterfinals)
  • 2016 — 6-5 (3-2 in Region 5 – 4A Quarterfinals)
  • 2015 — 3-8 (1-4 in Region 5 – Missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 11-2 (6-0 in Region 6 – 4A Semifinals)

...

Woods Cross coaching history

  • 2017-current — Andrew Fresques (9-13)
  • 2012-2016 — Justin Spencer (40-20)
  • 2011 — Nick Longshore (4-6)
  • 2007-2010 — Fred Fernandes (18-20)
  • 2005-2006 — Russ Jones (5-14)
  • 2000-2004 — Alema Te'o (7-42)
  • 1986-1999 — John Hanning (61-81)
  • 1981-1985 — Larry Eldracher (18-29)
  • 1977-1980 — Joseph Hawkins (13-22)

.....

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Jordan Johnson, TE
  • 2017 — Nick Howe, CB
  • 2015 — Braxton Gunther, DB
  • 2014 — Tomasi Giles, DL
  • 2014 — Mason Newton, LB
  • 2014 — Braxton Gunther, DB
  • 2013 — Nick Peterson, OL
  • 2013 — Deion Saumalu, LB
  • 2013 — Xequille Harry, DB
  • 2012 — Felipo Mokofisi, DL
  • 2012 — Sean Barton, DB
  • 2011 — Sean Barton, DB

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