Note: Hunter finished with an 8-3 overall record in 2019 and was second in Region 2 with a 5-1 record. It was RPI seed No. 12 in the 6A playoffs, and was eliminated by Kearns 31-14 in second round.
SANDY — After a fairly successful 2019 campaign that saw it go 8-3 and lose to Kearns in the second round of the 6A playoffs, Hunter is reloaded and ready to go for the 2020 season.
“Overall, I thought we made some big improvements from the previous year. We lost to a really good team in Kearns. That playoff game against them, we were up at halftime. So I think we made some good strides last year. I was most proud about how we handled those circumstances when our backs were against the wall and we overcame and made the plays instead of self-destructing,” Hunter head coach Tarell Richards said.
Richards was proud of the way that his team handled adversity last year and looks for that to continue through this year.
“I think the reason why we were able to have some success, just overcoming difficult moments in the game and not allowing, not letting ourselves beat ourselves and competing through it. Overall last year, we were disappointed in the end result of that final game, but as a whole, it was a good year,” Richards said.
On offense, Hunter returns most of its starting lineup from last year — eight starters. While it will have to find a new group of running backs and a new quarterback, the Wolverines are set up nicely on the offensive line and at wide receiver, with leading receiver Nate Suaste, who had 832 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last season, back to lead the group. On defense, Hunter returns five starters, including defensive end Lorenzo Tuaone.
“I feel very good about our seniors. You know, this’ll be the group of seniors that have been with me since the beginning when I got to Hunter and they know what we do. They know it well, they believe in it, they’ve had success with it. I really look forward to that group of seniors being really able to take charge and just be really confident in what they’re doing out on the field,” Richards said.
Hunter Wolverines at a glance
Coach Richards’ thoughts on how his players dealt with the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:
“It’s completely changed our game. Everything we do, the way we do it, how we do it. ... At least for us at my school, it’s completely rewritten everything that we do and everything that we know. To say it’s been a challenge would be an understatement. Once we finally get the kids in between those lines and play the game that we’ve always played, it’s been fine. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out, but we’re doing what we can with what we got in the situation and we’re doing our best with the kids. The most important thing is it’s a way to get them out of their house again. After being shut down for so long, they’re just excited to be out there with their friends. It’s fluid, things change every day. We’re doing our best to stay within the expectations and the guidelines of our school district, but we’re still trying to understand that we have a season to prepare for, and we’ve got to compete on Friday nights. Nobody’s going to care once you get out there on Friday, they’re going to want to see results and they’re going to want to see good football played. So we’re doing our best with it.”
Hunter Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Tarell Richards
2019 offense: 30.4 ppg (8th in 6A)
- 8 returning starters
- Spread offense
Returning offensive starters
- Huni Tauteoli (OL)
- Jayson Chase (OL)
- Peseti Lapuaho (OL)
- Sautapu Faatuau Lole (OL)
- Taylor Savage (WR)
- Nate Suaste (WR)
- Josh Harding (WR)
- Lorenzo Tua’one (TE)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Koni Tahi (RB)
- Lorenzo Tua’one (RB)
- Mone Tauteoli (RB)
Coach Richards’ keys for offensive success in 2020:
“What we’ve always preached with the kids, No. 1 is you gotta protect the football. Turnover margin is usually the No. 1 indicator of winners and losers in this game, no matter what level. So we protect the football. We’ve got to play with great tempo and we can’t have any self-inflicted negatives. Those are the three things we go into each week. That is the pinnacle of our game plan. If we can do those three things really, really well, it does not matter what happens. You have a chance to win and be successful on offense.”
Hunter Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Ron Tupea/Keith Lapoti Jr.
2019 defense: 21.7 ppg (11th in 6A)
- 5 returning starters
- 4-2-5 defense
Returning defensive starters
- Lorenzo Tua’one (DE)
- Latu Sotele (LB)
- Lucious Asiasiga (Edge)
- Tavian Anderson (DB)
- Clayten Spotten (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Huni Tauteoli (DL)
Coach Richards’ keys for defensive success in 2020:
“We kind of have a few staples that drive everything we do with the kids on that side of the ball. The main thing is we gotta tackle well, we’ve gotta be a great tackling team. We have to make sure that we’re getting lined up right pre-snap every single time. We’ve got to make sure we have great communication. We’ve got to play with great effort and get all 11 guys to the ball.”
Deseret News outlook for 2020
After a successful season last year, Hunter is set up for success again in 2020. A large part of their offensive success will boil down to how well the new quarterback and running backs do, but will be aided by an experienced offensive line and wide receivers. On defense, Hunter returns key players in key skill positions and will be well-positioned for success.
Felt’s Facts for Hunter
- All-time record: 191-131 (30 years)
- Region championships: 8 (1991 co, 1996 co, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2009 co, 2012, 2014 co)
- Playoff appearances: 29
- All-time playoff record: 22-28
- State championships: 1 (2003)
- State championship record: 1-0
- Most played rivalry: 25 meetings with Kearns dating back to 1990. Hunter leads 17-9.
Last 5 Seasons
- 2019 — 8-3 (5-1 in Region 2 – 6A Second round)
- 2018 — 4-6 (3-1 in Region 2 – 6A First round)
- 2017 — 4-6 (3-1 in Region 2 - 6A First round)
- 2016 — 6-7 (3-3 in Region 2 – 5A First round)
- 2015 — 6-5 (5-1 in Region 2 – 5A First round)
Hunter coaching history
- 2018-current — Tarell Richards (12-9)
- 2012-2017 — Scott Henderson (35-32)
- 2011 — Les Hamilton (3-7)
- 2008-2010 — Dustin Pearce (19-15)
- 1999-2007 — Wes Wilcken (67-32) *1 State Title
- 1994-1998 — John Lambourne (40-15)
- 1990-1993 — Mike Fraser (18-13)
Hunter All-State at-a-glance
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
- 2003 — Ray Feinga, OL
- 1998 — David Fiefia, RB
Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years
- 2019 — Lorenzo Tua’one, DE
- 2016 — Lorenzo Fauatea, DT
- 2014 — Joseph Tiatia, RB
- 2010 — Ului Lapuaho, OL