ST. GEORGE – The Pine View Panthers have been here before: Looking to reload after a state championship run that fell just short.
The Panthers head into Friday’s season-opener at Green Canyon with a whole bunch of experience – 16 returning starters – and three potential superstars at skill positions on offense.
“We’ve got a lot of guys returning this year that already know the offense,” said Panther assistant coach Ben Meyer. “We like to play at that fast-paced tempo. The boys like that and Coach (Todd) Shaw likes that.”
Having the starting quarterback (Ryan Javines), running back (Jacob Mpungi) and top receiver (Michael Moten) returning also plays a big part in what Pine View hopes will be an uber-efficient offense.
“Of course we’ve added in a few new plays, but our offense is still pretty much the same,” Javines said. “I’m going to run. I’m going to throw. Jacob’s going to run. It should be good.”
Dallin Brown will also factor in the passing game. He’s a receiver, and also the backup quarterback. Plus, having three offensive linemen back (center Riley Duckworth, tackle Noah Codiga and guard Tomasi Tonga) will help.
But there’s no doubt there are some big (and small) shoes to fill on offense. All-state lineman Tyler Heaton has graduated, along with speedy slot receiver Lance Mandrigues.
“We’ve got to fill in some holes on offense, for sure,” Meyer said. “It’s tough to fill a void like Tyler Heaton. He’s done so well for us the last few years.”
Look for Brown and Hunter Moore to pick up the slack in the receiving corps as a complement to Moten. And look for Sola Katoa and Raymond Tauoa to step up in the offensive line.
Another intriguing add to the offense will be Brooks Maile at tight end. Maile has already verbally committed to BYU as a defensive player and is just a junior. His help on offense could be huge.
On defense, Pine View has an excellent core group returning, including leading tackler Christain Reis (106 tackles in 2016). Brennan Bithell and Austin Peterson are also back at linebacker after recording a combined 148 tackles last year.
Heaton was a monster at nose tackle last season, drawing double teams and making life easier for Reis, Bithell and Peterson. Who will fill the void left by Heaton’s graduation?
“We’ve tried several different guys and moved them in and out and that might be what we do during the season at nose tackle,” Meyer said. “It might depend on matchups and what works best against a certain opponent.”
Katoa is one of those guys that may slide to the middle from his defensive end post. Other expected big-time contributors on defense are DE Maile, and safeties Jakobe Turlington and Paul Von Dincklage. Pine View does have to replace two very good cornerbacks in Dylan Hendrickson and DeAngelo Mpungi.
The Panthers also expect big things from kicker Connor Brooksby, who had a stellar 2016 season.
The resolve is there, and the motivation after losing the state title on the last play of the season.
“I don’t want to end the season like we did last year,” Javines said. “That can’t happen.”
The Panthers open at new school Green Canyon Friday, then travel to Lehi, which is 4A, but competes in football as a 5A school. The Panthers’ home opener is Week 3 with a home matchup vs. Manti on Sept. 1, and Region 9 play begins Sept. 15 with a road game against Snow Canyon.
Pine View Panthers
Coach Ray Hosner
2016 Results (10-3, 3-2)
Pine View 34, Judge 7
Pine View 47, Uintah 3
Pine View 24, Manti 7
Pine View 49, Cyprus 12
Dixie 38, Pine View 7
Pine View 13, Snow Canyon 7
Pine View 49, Hurricane 19
Desert Hills 36, Pine View 19
Pine View 18, Cedar 13
Pine View 58, Ben Lomond 12
Pine View 38, Tooele 36
Pine View 35, Dixie 14
Desert Hills 28, Pine View 27
2017 schedule (home games bolded)
Aug. 18 – at Green Canyon
Aug. 25 – at Lehi
Sept. 1 – vs. Manti
Sept. 8 – vs. Cyprus
Sept. 15 – at Snow Canyon
Sept. 22 – vs. Dixie
Sept. 29 – at Hurricane
Oct. 5 – vs. Desert Hills
Oct. 11 – at Cedar
Oct. 20 – vs. Canyon View
Returning starters: Offense 8, defense 8
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