Hillcrest hasn't experienced a winning football season since 2003, and the Huskies' return to Class 5A a year ago proved difficult, as the Midvale team managed just one win.
With a senior-heavy team returning, first-year coach Travis Mehlhoff said his biggest challenge may be turning that culture around.
"A lot of it is the culture and tradition there," said Mehlhoff, who was assistant head coach at Lehi last year. "There needs to be a changing of the mindset. We have a lot of really good kids who are doing what we have asked of them since February. Their commitment to the weight room as been huge. That translates to mental toughness and the ability to finish. That translates to what we ask for them on the field."
Mehloff said the Huskies' performance at 7-on-7 competitions at camps at BYU and Utah might have helped Hillcrest's confidence. They tied for first in the linemen challenge at BYU and took third in similar competition at Utah.
"We're asking a lot of our kids to go on belief when they haven't experienced a lot of success," said the coach. "Our main offseason focus is trying to get them to believe and to have little successes on a daily basis."
Last year • 1-9 overall
Key returners • Quarterback Tanner Thompson, the Region 2 offensive MVP a year ago, will run Mehlhoff's attack, which is balanced between run and pass.
Players to watch • Linemen Cade Roemmich and Mitch Mortimer, are part of a group that fared well in summer camp competitions. Tight end Andrew Olsen is expected to have a big role in the offense.
Biggest concern • The Huskies haven't experienced a winning season since 2003 and need to learn how to win.
Need to know • Hillcrest's stadium, situated in a bowl-like setting, is one of the nicest in Utah. The addition of artificial turf last year makes it one of the best places in the state to watch a game.