COMMENTARY – I remember a football program in Region 9 that was really struggling.
Since moving up from 2A to the 3A level in the early 1990s, this program had not done well, managing a 30-49 record (38 percent). Many fans and boosters murmured, saying the team should never have been bumped up to 3A. The other schools in the region were bigger and faster and stronger.
This school hired a relatively inexperienced new football coach in hopes that his enthusiasm and youth would turn things around. It didn’t work, at least not at first.
After three years with the new staff, this team was even worse than before, going 8-20 (29 percent). They were 2-8 in region play and their next closest region rival had beaten them soundly eight straight times.
Players felt out-manned. Coaches were frustrated. Fans were disinterested. And parents and administrators were petitioning the state to move the team back to 2A or at least find an easier region for them.
That team, as you may have guessed, is the Hurricane Tigers. Yes, the same Tigers who have been to the playoffs five straight times. The same team that won the state 3A title in 2011 with a perfect 13-0 record. The same team that has now beaten its closest geographic rival (Pine View) four straight years.
So what happened?
Well, despite the protestations, Hurricane didn’t change classifications or even regions. The Tigers were helped a bit when Dixie, Pine View and Snow Canyon went up to 4A for four years, but it should be pointed out that Hurricane went 7-4 against those three teams during that stretch and won its state title after the three had returned to 3A in 2011.
Special requests were not granted for the Tigers so they could become competitive.
Instead, they just manned up. Hurricane’s coaches and players ignored any whining or “woe is me,” talk and started working harder.
A previously quiet weight room began booming loud music at 6 a.m. while players began to sculpt their bodies into the powerhouses that would be needed to compete.
Coach Chris Homer will readily admit that he looked at other schools, particularly rival Pine View, and saw what needed to be done.
“I looked at their program in general, but more specifically their work in the weight room,” he said. “They had a level of commitment there that we didn’t and that’s why they were always a top program.”
Like just about everything in life, hard work led directly to success. Hurricane is 57-8 (88 percent) the past five seasons. The team, the players and the support system quit complaining about the hand they were dealt and made it work.
But this column isn’t actually about Hurricane. It’s about Canyon View.
The Falcons have struggled mightily the past few seasons. They haven’t won a region game in more than half a decade. They haven’t beaten rival Cedar since 2005. And last week, the Falcons got their wish. The Utah High School Activities Association heard Canyon View’s desperate pleas of “We can’t do it,” and “It’s too hard,” and moved the Falcons to a different classification and region in football. CV is now in the 3A South, where it will compete with powerhouses Delta, Manti, Juab, Richfield and North Sanpete for a region title.
The Falcons’ former region mates, Cedar, Dixie, Hurricane, Pine View and Snow Canyon, will be in the new 3AA class and will join Payson in the new 3AA South region.
So instead of driving across town or 50 miles south for games, Canyon View will get to tour central Utah’s meccas of football: Delta (136 miles), Manti (154 miles) and Nephi (175).
Two programs, badly beaten down. Hurricane was outnumbered and out-muscled. What did they do? They got to work. Canyon View faced the same problem and what did the Falcons do? They pleaded for it to be easier.
And of course, the lesson learned for all the young and future Falcons: If it’s too hard, complain and beg and maybe someone will make it easier for you.
The new football-only regions and classifications:
3AA Classification (14 teams)
3A Classification (12 teams)
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Email: [email protected]
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