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High school football: Orem Tigers 2019 preview

Note: Orem finished with a 12-2 overall record in 2018 and was first in Region 10 with a 5-0 record. It beat Dixie 60-13 in the 4A championship.

Orem 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

OREM — According to its head coach, Jeremy Hill, Orem has been asking for it for quite a while, and then finally received it during the realignment process this offseason. The moves include bumping up two-time defending 4A champion Orem to the 5A ranks, a move Hill and his players relish.

"This is what we've wanted and where we've wanted to compete," Hill said. "We're excited for the new competition and we've wanted to compete against teams like Timpview, Alta and all the others for a while here and now we have that chance. I love our region and how it's set up."

Considering the Tigers' overall talent, there's little doubt they'll compete just fine in 5A after running roughshod through the 4A ranks. Hill sees it as an opportunity for his team to truly be tested, particularly late in the season in matching up with other Region 7 teams like Alta, Timpview and Lehi, among others.

"We tried to schedule real tough teams at the front of our schedule in past years, and that helped, but we like the opportunity we have now to compete with some of the top teams in the state late in the season," Hill said. "We've built a strong program here and this is a good next step for us to see how we can do in 5A."

Doing as much does have its challenges, namely replacing prolific quarterback Cooper Legas along with receiver Puka Nacua.

"We were blessed to have those two and they're both the type of players that don't come around very often," Hill said. "So it's going to be tough finding replacements for those two, but we like a lot of the guys we have coming back."

Orem Tigers at a glance

Coach: Jeremy Hill is in his fourth year as head coach of the Orem Tigers. He's gone 29-11 over his first three seasons. Hill is a graduate of Orem High School, as well as Utah State University.

Hill's comments on the new UHSAA RPI:

"It's kind of unique and interesting, and we'll see how it works out. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of everyone making the playoffs, and I'm not sure exactly how it's going to work, but I'm sure that's the case with everyone. It's certainly affected the way we schedule, and that's probably the case for everyone."

Orem offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Lance Reynolds

2018 offensive production: 53.8 ppg (1st in 4A)

— Five returning starters

— 2-RB spread

Key offensive returning starter

Kingsley Suamataia

Hill describes Suamataia as one of the top linemen in the entire country and the centerpiece of the team's offensive front.

Returning starters

Kingsley Suamataia (OL)

Cayden Viertel (RB/WR)

Klaysen Christianson (RB)

Jaxon Williams (WR)

Brinton Paulson (TE)

Newcomers to watch

Micah Fe'a (QB)

Pono Kahala-Giron (QB)

Chase Tuatagaloa (QB)

Kame Kahala-Giron (WR)

Calyb Saoau-To'a (OL)

Asa Aiono (OL)

Hill on his quarterbacks:

"We have three guys right now and we're waiting to see if Chase Tuatagaloa can get eligible after transferring, but yeah, three options that are competing and it's quite possible we'll play two guys during the first part of the year. It's a good battle we're having at that position."

Hill on his running backs:

"Running back is a real strong position for us. We like all our guys back there and Noah Sewell will help out, along with Buju Tuisavura, will both help and we're looking for a big year from Klayson Christianson coming off of his injury."

Hill on replacing Puka Nacua at receiver:

"We won't have just one guy as good as Puka, but we'll have more depth and I really like our group. We return our second-leading receiver in Jaxon Williams and feel we'll have a good productive group of receivers this year."

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

Replacing a quarterback like Cooper Legas is no easy task and uncertainty at the position could get the better of the Tigers this coming season. Should the quarterback play suffice early on, or even midway through the year then Orem should again prove capable of putting a lot of points on the board.

Orem defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Jeremy Hill

2018 defensive production: 18.7 ppg (5th in 4A)

— Six returning starters

— 4-2-5

Key defensive returning starters

— Noah Sewell (LB)

Sewell is simply one of the top recruits in the state and widely considered the top linebacker prospect the state of Utah has ever produced.

— Jayden Ah You (LB)

Ah You gives Sewell a nice complement at linebacker.

Returning starters

Noah Sewell (LB)

Jayden Ah You (LB)

Buju Tuisavura (DB)

Jakob Robinson (DB)

Joe Smith (DB)

Tauhi Tupola (DL)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Paxton Skipps (LB)

Zion Saleapaga (DL)

James Tenney (DL)

Hill on his linebackers:

"We have three college linebackers is how I feel about it. Everyone knows about Noah (Sewell) and Jayden (Ah You), but Paxton Skipps is a kid who is going to turn some heads early on. I love our linebackers, obviously."

Hill on his defensive line:

"Not as much experience on the defensive line, but we really like our new guys coming up and feel it will end up being a strong position for us."

Hill on his defensive backs:

"Buju (Tuisavura) did a great job at safety for us last year along with Joe Smith, and then Jakob Robinson is a three-year starter for us. It's a strong position."

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

Orem will pose what could well be considering the best linebacking corps in the state, and if the defensive line steps up to take up blocks then the defense should thrive and prove to be extremely stingy.

Bottom line:

Orem won't be able to put it on cruise control this year, and the losses of Cooper Legas and Puka Nacua are big ones. Still, the Tigers look formidable and should rise to become one of the top teams in 5A and legitimately compete for a state championship.

Coaches preseason Region 7 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 7 prediction: Second

Key region game: Oct. 4 vs. Timpview

2019 Schedule

Aug. 15 — at Corner Canyon, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — at Bishop Gorman, Nev., 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — SKYLINE, Idaho, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — at Alta, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — SKYRIDGE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — TIMPANOGOS, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — at Mountain Ridge, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Lehi, 7 p.m.

….

Felt’s Facts for Orem High School

All-time record: 518-304-21 (90 years)

Region championships: 28 (1935 co, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 co, 1974, 1985 co, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996 co, 2000 co, 2004-co, 2012, 2013 co, 2017, 2018)

Playoff appearances: 54

Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2016-2018)

All-time playoff record: 56-47

State championships: 7 (1962, 1968, 1994, 2017, 2018)

State championship record: 7-7

Most played rivalry: 60 meetings with Provo dating back to 1930. Orem leads 32-27-1. Last met in 2012.

Felt’s Factoids: Tiger Jared Harper is the only Utah prep player with a 99-yard run in a state playoff game (1996 quarterfinal). … Tucker Camp (509 passing yards on Oct. 15, 2014) is one of just eight Utah QBs to throw for over 500 yards in a game.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 12-2 (5-0 in Region 10 – 4A Champions)
  • 2017 — 12-2 (5-0 in Region 10 – 4A Champions)
  • 2016 — 5-7 (4-3 in Region 7 – 4A First round)
  • 2015 — 4-6 (1-5 in Region 7 – Missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 3-3 (3-3 in Region 7 – 4A First round)

….

Orem coaching history

  • 2016-current — Jeremy Hill (29-11)
  • 2015 — Bob Steele (4-6)
  • 2011-2014 — Tyler Anderson (21-24)
  • 2002-2010 — Bob Steele (48-52)
  • 2000-2001 — Alex Jacobson (15-8)
  • 1989-1999 — Paul Clark (74-39)
  • 1985-1988 — Thomas Rabb (31-11)
  • 1980-1984 — Steve Downey (27-22)
  • 1977-1979 — (unknown) (21-11)
  • 1971-1976 — Tom Molen (33-23-2)
  • 1969-1970 — Charlie Dine (17-5-2)
  • 1954-1968 — Udell Westover (105-31-5)
  • 1949-1953 — Glenn Zimmerman (27-13-1)
  • 1929-1948 — Don “Sanky” Dixon (56-48-11)

.....

Deseret News Mr. Football recipients

  • 2018 — Puka Nacua, WR

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Cooper Legas, QB
  • 2017 — Puka Nacua, WR

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Fred Prescott, OG
  • 2018 — Hunter Hill, OT
  • 2018 — Rylen Su’a-Filo, DT
  • 2018 — Sione Mounga, DE
  • 2018 — Noah Sewell, LB
  • 2018 — Ethan Slade, S
  • 2017 — Ethan Slade, S
  • 2017 — Cayne Sauao-To’a, DT
  • 2017 — Austin Kirkby, DE
  • 2017 — Ryan To’a, C
  • 2017 — Cole Watts, OL
  • 2017 — Enoch Fiso, TE
  • 2017 — Cooper Legas, QB
  • 2013 — Nolan Gray, WR
  • 2012 — Nolan Gray, WR
  • 2011 — Cole Payne, WR

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