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Snow College is hoping to start this season they way they finished last year. The Badgers ended on a four game winning streak to finish with a 5-6 record.
Coach Britt Maugham said the slow start was due to the change in the LDS Church missionary age requirement, which lowered the age students could go on mission from 19 to 18.
In six month stretch, Snow replaced about 90 players for 2013 team including sophomores who graduated the previous season, and players and recruits who chose to go on missions.
Maugham, entering his second season as head coach, said the Badgers instead were forced to rely on freshman to play right away, and said the change had an immediate impact. He expects that some four-year colleges will start feeling the effects of the change this season or next.
In addition, there was higher-than-usual turnover on the coaching staff.
Maugham said the convergence of a new coaching staff and a lot of first-year player logging starters' minutes turned the 2013 season into a struggle.
However, Maugham is optimistic this year's transition will smoother, translating into more victories and perhaps vaulting the Badgers back into the their accustomed spot in the national rankings.
The biggest addition for Snow is former BYU Cougar Alex Kuresa, who is back from a mission. He played receiver during his stint at BYU, but has transitioned into the starting quarterback the position he played at Mountain Crest High School.
"He is a true dual threat quarterback," said coach Maugham. "He can make good plays on his feet, and his a competitor. His football IQ is extremely high."
Kuresa was named the Utah's 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year and was a Salt Lake Tribune all-stater..
The Badgers are returning seven offensive and five defensive starters with a host of other players who played quality minutes last season.
"We have some good experience coming back this season," said Maugham. In addition, the Badgers have signed 21 players, 18 of them from Utah.
Snow's schedule this year features two ranked teams, both Western States Football League opponents: No. 12 Arizona Western and No. 16 Scottsdale. Mesa and New Mexico Military received honorable mentions.
Snow's first game was Saturday night at Mesa.
All times mountain
Saturday at Mesa, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Arizona Western, noon
Sept. 13 Scottsdale, noon
Sept. 20 at Glendale, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Phoenix, noon
Oct. 4 at N.M. Military, TBA
Oct. 11 E. Arizona, noon
Oct. 18 at Pima,