<em>This is the third of four in a series of previews of Cache Valley’s UHSAA football teams. Ridgeline High’s preview can be found <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/sports/local_prep/article_02aab1aa-583e-11e6-9c02-737ea66c928d.html” target=”_blank”>here</a>. Sky View’s preview can be found <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/sports/local_prep/article_72ac7fba-5906-11e6-b30b-17e9be6e2c38.html” target=”_blank”>here</a>.</em>
HYRUM – The Mountain Crest football team made a statement in its first year at the 5A level. The 2015 Mustangs started the year with an undefeated 9-0 record, then lost to valley rival Sky View in the last regular season game.
The team will continue to play at the 5A level this season, but will do so with a major disadvantage. With the opening of Ridgeline High, the school’s enrollment has been reduced by more than 50 percent. Many of the players that helped lead the Mustangs’ football team a year ago will be playing for the Riverhawks.
First year Mustang head coach Jason Lee knows that, but he said it doesn’t matter. Even though Mountain Crest will probably be the only 5A team in the state where most starters are playing on both sides of the ball, he believes his team will still be competitive.
“Honestly, if we don’t compete and do what we did last year, I’ll be disappointed,” he said. “The kids understand it, and they don’t care. I know they’ve been picked sixth in the region, that doesn’t matter to them. The rankings don’t matter. They kind of like having a chip on their shoulder.”
Lee said the toughest and best players stuck around.
“They took a lot of the – I guess you want to say – skill kids,” he said. “I feel like we kept the strength of the core of our line, and then our skill guys that we kept are second to none. I’d put them up against anybody, absolutely anybody. Yeah, we don’t have a ton of them, they have more players, but that doesn’t matter to us.”
Not only will Mountain Crest be a small team, but it will be a young team too.
“We’ve got our battles ahead of us, but you know my junior class is really stacked, I think,” Lee said. “I’ve got a lot of juniors that can play. I’ve got some good seniors, the seniors that have stuck around are probably as tough as anybody. I’ve got about four good sophomores that are going to be playing.”
According to Lee, the offensive schemes will remain mostly the same. He said his offensive coordinator Dave Kuresa has been with the team for more than 30 years and will bring consistency to it, despite the changes. Lee said he has two players “fighting it out for the starting quarterback spot.”
“Right now we’ve got Brady Hall and Nick Nethercott at quarterback.,” he said. “Brady Hall is a sophomore, a tough, tough kid that comes from a family of football players. He actually started the last couple of games for us at corner last year, so he has some experience that way on the defensive side. Offensively he’s learning a lot. Nick Nethercott is a big, big junior, a kid that has played quarterback before.”
Defensively, the Mustangs will switch from a 3-3-5 defense to a 3-4.
“The front is going to be the same but we’ll have an extra backer where we had a safety last year,” Lee said.
The Mustangs will open the season at home against Highland High on August 19th. The following week they will head to Orem to take on Spring Valley High, then it is a rivalry game at Logan. After that, Region 1 games begin.
“I know Fremont is going to be a big game,” Lee said “That’s our fourth game, which is going to be a huge region game. I think Fremont is probably one of the toughest teams in the region.”
Lee said he is proud of the kids that have stuck around.
“Nobody else in the state has been asked to play 5A with the numbers we got,” he said. “We have 830 kids and we’re going to play those teams that have 2,000. Doesn’t matter to us.
“Everybody better be ready to play Mountain crest, that’s all I’m going to say.”