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After going winless in region and winning one game last season, there is a lot to build upon for the Parowan football program. That has made the upcoming season something to look forward to.
"The coach-player relationship is a lot smoother," said coach Brigham Nielsen, who begins his second year. "The kids have bought in. I got to know what our strengths and weaknesses are. A lot of it is being confident in what you teach them and them being confident in what they're learning.
"We'll be a lot more clear and efficient than last year."
The offense expects to be more productive after scoring just 75 points and being shut out in three consecutive games last season. Caleb Murphy, a converted offensive lineman, took over after injuries to the top two quarterbacks last year. He has thrived with a full offseason to learn the position.
"He's really stepped up and developed well," Nielsen said. "We obviously have a ways to go, but things are definitely coming together. We'll try finding ways to put our players in position to be successful and where it's hardest for defenses to make plays. We'll be more balanced."
Kirk Harrison will be the slot back, while Cody Hartlmaier will line up at running back. Braden Mineer, Taylor Harris and Jake Smith are top receiving options, while Cannon Brunzvick, Fernando Carrillo, Dallin Benson, Marty Stubbs and Anthony Shaw comprise the offensive line.
Defensively, the Rams know changes are needed. Opponents averaged 36 points per game last season most of it coming on big plays.
"We're going to keep things a bit more simple instead of worrying about schemes," Nielsen said. "The 11 guys who want to tackle will play, no matter who they are. If you look at the greatest teams, the successful ones can block and tackle."
The return of linebacker Justice Walker, who was injured early last year, is expected to fortify the defense with Brunzvick.
"I look for the defensive line as a group to step up and the cornerbacks to be tough on the outside and make plays in the running game," Nielsen said.
Parowan opens the season Aug. 23 at Milford.
"I believe we're going to be a lot more successful this year," he said. "A lot of people are going to be surprised with the outcome of our season."
ASSIGNMENT • Class 2A South
LAST YEAR • 1-8 overall, 0-7 Class 2A South
KEY RETURNER • Caleb Murphy, QB. Converted offensive lineman was team's third option at quarterback after injuries last season. Finished the year well and is grasping more of what it takes to play the position as the full-time starter.
PLAYERS TO WATCH • Justice Walker, RB/LB, and Cody Hartlmaier, RB/DB. Walker was hurt early and didn't get a chance to show his abilities last season. He has come back stronger and hopes to make an immediate impact. Hartlmaier begins his second season of organized football and has bought into the team concept.
BIGGEST HOLE • Blocking and tackling. As their coach says, it will be crucial for the 10 Rams who don't have the ball to be committed to blocking for the one who does. The team also has to tackle better to experience more success.
NEED TO KNOW • Despite a rough stretch, the community and fan/parent base has continued to support the team. Coach Nielsen believes a lot of people will be surprised with the outcome of his team's season.