Twenty-nine days remain on the calendar until the start of football season, and the Tooele County teams have spent the summer preparing for the grind.
The 3A classification was split into two classes for the 2013 football season, with Grantsville playing in 3A with the smaller schools, and Stansbury and Tooele playing in 3AA with the larger schools.
This split has given the Grantsville Cowboys an all-new confidence this summer.
“We always go into the summer confident, but now it’s an all-time high,” said Grantsville coach Tony Cloward. “It’s more readily attainable (to win a state championship). The kids know that; they’re not dummies. They know who they have to beat. We’re stoked to finally play schools our size.”
Cloward said winning a state championship is still a difficult task, but the Cowboys entered summer training with a new attitude — an attitude where they believe they can win the whole thing. With 14 returning starters from the 2012 team, the Cowboys believe this is their year.
“We’re a veteran team,” Cloward said. “We have returning starters on defense and six on offense. Defensively we should be very dominant. Our offense started to gel. We have to replace all five of our offensive linemen, but it was our offense that was crisp at the end of the SUU camp.”
The Grantsville Cowboys participated in a summer training camp at Southern Utah University with other Utah high schools. Cloward said things went as well as he could have hoped at the SUU camp with his offense scoring on every defense it went up against.
“We had a great camp,” he said. “We were the team of the camp, to be so bold.”
Right now, Grantsville hopes to use this last month of training to work on conditioning and shore up weaknesses.
“We have a good pulse of what we have, but waiting the next few weeks is one of those necessary evils,” Cloward said. “We wish we could play this week, but this month is going to be key. We still have some things to work on, and we still need to get in better shape. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been for this season.”
The Stansbury Stallions went into the summer training business as usual. They’re trying not to focus on the past and the heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals to the Dixie Flyers. They just want to take things one game at a time.
“They just use the loss as we’ve got to work harder,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen. “It’s a brand new season. We just take it one game at a time as we always do. They felt they should’ve played at Rice-Eccles, and we stubbed our toe getting there.”
Christiansen said even with the split region, the Stallions play a lot of the same opponents from last year with the addition of Juan Diego and Hurricane, with the Tigers being a non-region game.
“We’ve got a good schedule this year to get us ready for the playoffs,” Christiansen said. “We didn’t really get a lot of tests toward the end of last season, and that hurt us in the playoffs. It makes it tough when you have to play the powerhouses from St. George. We have (4A) Mountain View at the end to get us ready for the playoffs.”
He said he and the Stallions don’t want the summer to get over quite yet. He said there are still improvements to be made, but he knows the kids are excited to battle a superior opponent to start the year.
“Our kids are getting excited to go down to Desert Hills to open the season and play against a state championship contender,” he said.
The Tooele Buffaloes spent the summer training up younger kids. The Buffs will rely heavily on juniors to lead the way this year, but they’re not going in without experience.
Head coach Kyle Brady said a lot of the juniors who are on this year’s team have varsity experience from when they were sophomores, and they’ll continue to build on that experience this season.
“We’ve been having a lot of kids come out,” Brady said. “One-hundred kids came out to the summer camp. We’ve had a few kids I think are going to get some good varsity time for us that are younger kids. Our junior class is heavily loaded up. We only have maybe 10 seniors on the whole roster.”
Brady said his players have been attending the college football camps during the summer to help improve their skills, and Tooele even attended the HSPD Camp that is put on by the National Football League and the National Guard. He said the Buffs gained a lot of experience from that camp and were able to learn from other teams on what they can do.
“It was good to hear from other coaches on how we can improve,” he said. “The more tools you have, the more ways you have to do it, the better.”
Brady said his players are ready to get out there and play some of the new teams they haven’t competed against before.
“They’re pretty excited with the new region and everything,” he said. “We still have some of the old rivals like Stansbury and Grantsville, but we also get to play some new teams.”
All three teams open the season Aug. 23. Grantsville hosts Cedar, Stansbury plays at Desert Hills, and Tooele plays around the corner at Cyprus.