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The Olympus Titans won the Class 4A Region 7 title outright in 2011 and shared that title in 2012. But both seasons ended in first-round playoff losses.
Coach Aaron Whitehead feels like this will be the year that his team finally breaks through and makes it to Rice-Eccles Stadium. He has four returning starters on offense, seven on defense and a group of young players that has experienced success on junior varsity.
But he also knows the road won't be easy.
"I'm excited for this group, but the competition is so stiff this year," Whitehead said. "Any other year, this might be a group you're really excited about, thinking you might go pretty deep. But the competition level, I don't remember it this stiff in recent years."
Whitehead was complimentary of the other teams in his region, but his squad looks very strong as well.
On offense, senior running back Coleman Meier returns after a strong junior season in both football and track, where he ran the 200 meters in 22.19 seconds to win the region championship. Robbie Borden and Jeff Day return on the offensive line.
But Whitehead is most excited about the defense and the job his defensive coordinator, Brandon Burt, has done with those players.
Connor Haller is a 6-foot-4 free safety who also will play wide receiver.
"He's a ball hawk," Whitehead said. "The kid lays the wood."
Two of the Titans' linebackers return, including Michael Ninivaggi a tall and lanky but extremely athletic player.
"I think our strength this year will be our defense," Whitehead said. "I'm excited about our offense. I'm an offensive-minded guy, but the strength is our defense."
ASSIGNMENT • Region 7
LAST YEAR • 6-5 overall, 4-1 Region 7
KEY RETURNER • Coleman Meier, sr., RB. Meier is extremely fast and agile but also a hard hitter. Coach Whitehead expects colleges to recruit him this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Tosh Wilcox, sr., WR/S. Wilcox is on the wrestling team, too, and Whitehead said he bench presses more than 300 pounds and is one of the fastest players on the team.
BIGGEST HOLE • "This year we're nervous about who the kicker will be," Whitehead said. He has soccer players trying out, but he's unsure how effective they'll be or who will win the job. "There's not a position that keeps me up at night … except for kicker."
NEED TO KNOW • If the Titans manage to win or share the Region 7 title this season, it will be the first time in the school's 60-year history that they've won three straight region titles.