Judging solely on wins, there hasn’t been a decent Tooele football since 2006 when they finished 7-4, and the Buffaloes haven’t won a state title since 2002.
But head coach Kyle Brady is looking to change that this year, and it all begins Friday as the Buffs take on Cyprus in the home-opener, a game they lost by 30 last year.
“Years past we haven’t really been sticking to the game,” said junior running back Nate Reynolds. “Last year I feel like we came together as a team and stuck in the game for people. We’d keep pushing ourselves and we’d push each other. I think that’s what’s going to help us a lot this year.”
Reynolds is one of two running backs in Tooele’s run-heavy Wing-T offense who will see very significant playing time. The other is Brady’s younger brother, junior running back Ryan Brady. Fullback Cole Fonger might have seen a lot of time, but the senior broke his ankle during a scrimmage earlier this summer.
Although there will be some younger guys seeing time in the backfield, Kyle Brady is pleased with Reynolds and Ryan Brady because of their interchangeability.
“Ryan and Nate are going to get the bulk of the carries,” Kyle Brady said. “Nate’s more of a power guy, Ryan’s more of a quick hitter. They’re both good athletes and can play both the running back positions, so that’s a good asset to us. We can move them around a bit and hopefully cause some deception.”
Another of the Brady brotherhood, senior Jake Brady will man the quarterbacking duties. Kyle Brady said the 6-foot, 180-pound athlete has devoted a lot of time watching film during the offseason and has further stepped into his role as an on-the-field general.
“He’s grown a lot in the last year as a quarterback,” Kyle Brady said. “He’s definitely throwing the ball a lot better than he was last year. He’s got a year under his belt to get some things settled down and make sure that he understands the reads. He watches a lot of film in the offseason and has got himself in a position where he seems to be a good quarterback force.”
“He controls the huddle really well and hopefully he makes the right reads and everything like that,” he added.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Buffaloes will play a 4-3 with what Kyle Brady called one of his deepest defensive lines.
Three of Tooele’s four defensive linemen are returning starters from last year’s varsity squad, including 5-foot-10, 210-pound all-state defensive tackle Maka Kioa.
“Our biggest guy on defense (Kioa) is just a beast off the blocks,” Kyle Brady said. “He just has a real light motor, runs around real well, uses his hands real well. He’s just tough to block.”
Reynolds plays on both sides of the ball, also as a defensive end, and agreed that Kioa is one of the anchors in a tightly knit front four. But Reynolds also thinks a big reason why Kyle Brady says the linemen are the team’s defensive strength is because of their chemistry on and off the field.
“The D-line, we call ourselves the ‘D-Siders’ because we’re so close and know everything that we need to know about each other, that we can help each other out,” he said. “That’s why I think our defensive line is so strong.”
But as of now, the Buffaloes have their share of critics they’ll need to silence: Tooele lost to Snow Canyon 38-9 in the first round last year and finished the season with a meager three wins.
This year with expected challenges one after another against Juan Diego, Stansbury and Desert Hills in September and October, the Buffs will have to make a name for themselves in the first four games of the season before anyone will believe they can hang with the historical powers in the state — even though they’ll have home field advantage.
“What we want to try to build is a team that has the opportunity to score every time we get the football,” Kyle Brady said. “We want to be pretty aggressive in what we do. We just expect guys to go hard every single play.”