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High school football: Copper Hills 2019 preview

Here’s an in-depth look at the Copper Hills Grizzlies football team heading into the 2019 season.

Note: Copper Hills finished with a 1-8 overall record in 2018 and was sixth in Region 3 with a 0-5 record. It did not qualify for the 5A playoffs.

Copper Hills 2018 offensive and defensive stats

WEST JORDAN — If you want to hear how it really is without being sugar coated — not always the case when it comes to hype surrounding things like recruiting classes and preseason football projections — then Corey Dodds is your man.

The Copper Hills football coach is optimistic that his players have improved over the past two seasons since he joined the program, and numbers are up. But he’s also refreshingly realistic. He’d love to get the Grizzlies into a position where they can compete for a championship, but he’s in a rebuilding process that takes time.

While his expectations for his players to work their butts off and give their all are high, his goals for a season in which a lot of new players will be integrated into the rotation are more grounded.

“You can’t say playoffs because everyone’s guaranteed a spot,” the former University of Utah player said, referring to the UHSAA’s new RPI system. “To say (win) region would be a bit too optimistic with Herriman, East and Bingham in there. I would like to defend our home turf the best possible.”

A winning record in front of the home crowd would be a terrific step forward.

That home schedule includes matchups against Hillcrest, Cottonwood, Juan Diego, Jordan and Bingham.

“I’d like to see this team be in victory’s reach,” Dodds said. “That’s a realistic goal. We still might lose those, but if we can be in position I’d be happy.”

Though Dodds’ team, like everyone else, will be assured of a postseason berth in the new high school system, that’s not how he’d like his team to qualify for something it’s missed out on for years and has only achieved three times in 24 seasons.

“In my program it helps because now we can get another game. It helps us,” he said. “But it’s not how I’d like to get in the playoffs. I’d like to earn it rather than be given it.”

And he’s hopeful the Grizzlies are on their way to becoming a program that would get in either way after some tough seasons, that they’ve learned some valuable lessons in the blowouts and disappointments.

“Guys that got thumped on are now taking leadership roles,” he said.

Copper Hills Grizzlies at a glance

Coach: Corey Dodds

Coach Dodds on new UHSAA RPI:

“It’s a mixed bag. I’m glad they’re trying to find ways to spread it out a little bit. I’m not sure how I feel about it in that it’s almost like everyone gets a trophy. ... It’s our first year so I don’t want to really nitpick at everything.”

Team offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: James Owens

2018 offensive production: 11.9 ppg (22nd in 6A)

— 4 returning starters

— Shotgun spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

— Jay Archibald (T)

The Grizzlies’ offense will depend in part on the performance of their offensive line, and nobody is better equipped to provide protection than this experienced senior.

— Cody Lazenby (QB)

Though he doesn’t have a lot of seasoning, this talented sophomore has good size (6-3, 200) and a good arm, making him a good fit for the spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

Kaden Bybee (OL)

Jay Archibald (OL)

Cody Lazenby (QB)

Tommy Peake (WR)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Danny Gonzalez (RB)

Kailer Laufiso (WR)

Coach Dodds on junior lineman Kaden Bybee:

“He’s coming of age this season. Strength-wise, he’s by far my strongest kid. I think he has potential to be a D1 player.”

Coach Dodds on junior QB Cody Lazenby:

“Good arm, just young.”

Coach Dodds on receivers:

“We have different style of play at receiver. One (Kailer Laufiso) is tall and lanky, good downfield speed, and then Tommy (Peake) is just a freak with his routes — a good route runner, can get off of the press, knows how to create space, can still get vertical. He can find open holes.”

Keys for offensive success in 2018:

Dodds is among the many coaches who believe the success of an offense begins up front, and the Grizzlies have some nice players along the offensive line. Combined with some talent in the skill positions, Copper Hills should see more points on the scoreboard than a year ago when it averaged just under 12 points a game.

Team defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Corey Dodds

2018 defensive production: 39.1 ppg (21st in 6A)

— 3 returning starters

— Multiple defenses

Key defensive returning starters

— Kaden Bybee (DT)

This could be a breakout season for the junior, who has put a lot of time into building his strength.

— Soloa Pei (LB)

Pei and the Grizzlies’ linebackers will have chances to make a big difference this year, especially on blitzes.

Returning defensive starters

Kaden Bybee (DT)

Dakota Buckner (LB)

Soloa Pei (LB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Kailer Laufiso (DB)

Coach Dodds on defensive strength:

“The strength of our defense is our cornerbacks covering while blitzing with linebackers. We want to get after the QB.”

Keys for defensive success in 2018:

As Dodds mentioned, putting pressure on the opposing quarterback will take less pressure off Copper Hills’ defense. Almost anything would be an improvement from a year ago when the Grizzlies allowed almost 40 points every game.

Bottom line

The Grizzlies have only won two games in the past seasons, but that’s two more than the previous two years. Dodds pushes his players to excel, but there is a learning curve when you’re starting a program from scratch. If everything falls into place, Copper Hills might not win a region title or become a playoff contender but the school could see more competitive games. That’s the hope, at least.

Coaches preseason Region 3 straw poll: 6th

Deseret News Region 3 prediction: 6th

Key region game: vs. Riverton, Sept. 27 (Week 7)

2019 schedule

Aug. 16 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — HILLCREST, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — COTTONWOOD, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — at Providence Hall, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — at East, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — at Herriman, 7p.m.

Oct. 17 — BINGHAM, 7p.m.

…..

Felt’s Facts for Copper Hills High School

All-time record: 47-190 (24 years)

Region championships: 0

Playoff appearances: 3

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 0-3

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-0

Most played rivalry: 23 meetings with West Jordan dating back to 1995. West Jordan leads 23-1, and that one victory came in 2013.

Felt’s Factoid: Dallin Barnes holds the single-game return yardage record (289 yards), set in 2002.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 1-8 (0-5 in Region 3 - Missed playoffs)
  • 2017 — 1-8 (0-5 in Region 3 – Missed playoffs)
  • 2016 — 0-10 (0-6 in Region 3 - Missed playoffs)
  • 2015 — 0-10 (0-6 in Region 3 - Missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 3-7 (0-5 in Region 3 - Missed playoffs)

...

Copper Hills coaching history

  • 2017-current — Corey Dodds (2-16)
  • 2015-2016 — Tavita Sagapolu (0-20)
  • 2013-2014 — John Teuscher (4-16)
  • 2009-2012 — Kai Kapele (6-33)
  • 2005-2008 — Art Erickson (13-27)
  • 2000-2004 — Mike Smith (15-39)
  • 1995-1999 — Ron Halbertson, Jr. (7-39)

.....

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

(None)

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