Prep football: Rickards ready for shot in No. 1 chair at Kearns

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Same school colors and mascot. Same region and classification.

Same power rushing based offense and some of the same coaching staff.

There may not be a dramatic difference in the Kearns football program this season, but there will be some changes as former assistant coach Matt Rickards implements his style now that he has been promoted to take over for Bill Cosper.

"It's not necessarily about just winning games," Rickards said. "Our focus is going to help them become more involved in the community with service projects and with our youth program. We want to focus more on paying attention to all the little things and to do it with discipline. We are going to change our weight training program and focus on getting stronger in the weight room and on our conditioning."

Rickards, a Hunter High School graduate, played football at Weber State. He's been preparing for an opportunity to run his own program since wrapping up his playing career. As Kearns' offensive coordinator for the past four years, he's had a birds-eye view of a program that went 5-6 last season. The Cougars were the second seed from Region 2 but suffered a 38-0 beating by Davis in the first round.

Qualifying for the playoffs hasn't been the problem for Kearns. The Cougars have made the playoffs in five of the past six years but have lost in the first round each year.

The Cougars need their offense to be productive to experience playoff success. They averaged 28 points per game last season and featured the top rusher in Class 5A, running back James Felila, who racked up 1,935 yards and 22 touchdowns.

They also had a passing attack that earned the respect of opposing defenses. Quarterback Jordan Floyd passed for nearly 2,000 yards and threw 11 touchdown passes, while tight end Colton Grossaint was one of the most effective offensive weapons with more than 900 yards receiving.

Rickards must find replacements for Felila and Floyd, who were seniors last year. But considering his familiarity with the players in the program, he's in an ideal situation to find the best talent to fill those shoes and ensure the transition to a new coach will be as painless as possible.

"I've always wanted to be a head coach," he said. "I've been working toward getting an opportunity, and it just happened to be with a program that I was already with. I'm a west-side guy who wants to see these kids raise their expectations on the field and in the community, and I want to help them accomplish that."