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Note: Cedar finished with a 6-6 overall record and was in a three-way tie for second place in Region 9 with a 4-2 record in 2011. It lost to Desert Hills, 23-21, in the 3A semifinals.
CEDAR CITY — In his many years running the option offense at Cedar, coach Todd Peacock said there’s usually a correlation between a successful season and having a good quarterback and fullback.
Last year was no different as John Ursua and Hayden Bishop combined to rush for nearly 2,400 yards to lead Cedar into the 3A semifinals for the first time since 2004.
Heading into the 2012 season, Peacock feels good about the first half of the offensive equation with quarterback Easton Weaver. He’s not quite as comfortable about the fullback spot.
Peacock said he usually tries to put his best football player at fullback knowing the guy will usually carry the ball over 20 times per game, but this season he doesn’t have the ideal person to fit that spot.
Cedar’s coaching staff will likely give several different players a chance to prove themselves this preseason, and the team’s hope of making the playoffs in ultra-competitive Region 9 may hinge on someone rising to the challenge.
Realistically, it’s no surprise that uncertainty surrounds Cedar’s football team.
Through the years Peacock has preferred to start seniors over underclassmen. As a result, his team’s rarely feature returning starters. This year is no different with only three starters back on offense and one on defense.
Despite having just one returning starter defensively, Peacock likes the group he has.
“Defense is our strength. If we do what I think we’ll do, we’ll be a good defensive team,” said Peacock.
Defensive back Jaden Hopkins is Cedar’s lone returning starter, but several talented underclassmen from a year ago get their chance this season, including fellow defensive back Mike Hourigan.
Kaylor Smith, a returning starter on the offensive line, is a projected starter at linebacker and should be the anchor of the defense. Ryan Armstrong and Cameron Williamson saw a fair amount of playing time on the defensive line last year, but even more will be expected this year. Williamson was a state champion wrestling last winter.
Collectively, both offensively and defensively, Peacock said Cedar is fortunate to have a bit more size than usual. Whether or not that translates into winning football games remains to be seen.
Just like last year, Cedar kicks off the season with three very tough preseason games. After opening with visiting American Fork, it travels to Highland and then Skyline.
Cedar lost all three of those matchups last year, in addition to dropping its region-opener against Hurricane — which it coincidentally meets in Week 4 again.
Cedar followed up the four-game slide last year by winning six of its next seven games to advance to the semifinals.
In many ways, Peacock believes this year’s team is very similar to the 2011 team — except for the statistical anomaly that was John Ursua.
“He provided us with the speed and explosiveness that we were maybe lacking,” said Peacock.
Cedar Redmen at a glance
Coach: Todd Peacock is entering his 22nd year as Cedar’s head coach and his 26th overall having spent three years at North Sanpete and one at East Carbon. He is 131-102-1 at Cedar and 153-117-1 overall. He’s a graduate of Emery High School.
(3 returning starters; Option offense)
Without explosive quarterback John Ursua and a proven fullback, Cedar won’t be nearly as explosive offensively this season. With an athletic offensive line though, it should still be able to move the chains. Marches down field will just be a bit more methodical. Kaylor Smith is the only returning starter on the offensive line, but Cole Dotson was a part-time starter as a sophomore last season and senior tight end Ryan Armstrong saw a bit of time at tight end. Despite the uncertainty at fullback, coach Todd Peacock feels good about his other running backs with Jayden and Austin Hopkins, along with Kolton Harris, all expected to contribute. Cedar’s other two offensive starters were wide receivers Brock Englestead and Mike Hourigan.
(1 returning starter)
Cedar only held two teams under 20 points last year and finished the year allowing 24 ppg, so losing 10 of 11 starters to graduation probably isn’t that devastating. In fact, the coaching staff expects the defense to be Cedar’s strength this year. Anchoring things will be linebacker Smith. Jayden Hopkins and Mike Hourigan are solid cornerbacks who should help the defense against the few passing teams on Cedar’s schedule. The defensive line is unproven but is athletic and a bit larger by normal Cedar standards.
Coaches preseason Region 9 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 9 prediction: Fifth
Bottom line: With Cedar’s march to last year’s semifinals, it’s easy to forget that it was only a .500 football team at 6-6. One Region 9 coach believes Cedar might not have won a game without quarterback John Ursua last season — that’s how dangerous he was. Unfortunately for Cedar, it doesn’t have the luxury of an explosive quarterback this year and it has big question marks at fullback. Realistically, Cedar will probably be fine. Year in and year out coach Peacock’s team is among the hardest-working groups in Region 9 and it’s difficult to imagine this year being any different.
Aug. 17 — AMERICAN FORK, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Highland, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — at Skyline, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — HURRICANE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — BYE
Sept. 21 — at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — CANYON VIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Cedar High School
All-time record: 337-273-8 (65 years)
Region championships: 18 (1953, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985 co, 1987, 1994 co, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010 co)
Playoff appearances: 36
All-time playoff record: 26-36
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-3
Most played rivalry: 81 meetings with Dixie dating back to 1949 in the second-longest uninterrupted active rivalry in Utah. Dixie leads 48-33. Meet on Oct. 5.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Cedar was the last school to score more than 90 points in a game when the Redmen blitzed Kanab 95-0 in 1954. Redman Danny Lindsay is one of only two players to return a punt for 100 yards (1959). (Since 1974, kick and punt returns from the endzone haven’t been allowed.) Cedar and Page (Ariz.) battled to a 41-41 tie in 1999 — the hightest tie game involving a Utah team.
Cedar coaching history
1991-Current — Todd Peacock (131-102)
1986-1990 — Kit Janes (19-31)
1980-1985 — Dave Jensen (43-18)
1977-1979 — Jim Dalton (10-18)
1974-1976 — Jack Bishop (12-14)
1971-1973 — John Pensis (14-21)
1970 — Jim Marshall (2-6)
1967-1969 — Unknown
1966 — Jack Sawyers (4-3)
1956-1965 — Harold Norton (49-30)
1952-1955 — Glen Jackson (26-6)
1937-1950 — Unknown
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — John Ursua, QB
2011 — Kahi Eldredge, OL
2010 — Matt Grover, RB
2010 — Connor Ottenbacher, OL
2009 — Jackson Carter, DB/QB
2009 — Jesse Woods, DL
2008 — Ryan Decker, DL
2008 — Trent Grover, LB
2007 — Dylan Fox, LB
2007 — Spencer Montgomery, OL
2007 — Logan OBering, DB
2006 — Todd Whitney, LB
2004 — Kaylon Pickett, DL
2004 — Jordan Wood, DB
2004 — Joe West, SP
2003 — Taylor Ruud, OL
2003 — Bradon Grover, LB
2003 — Marty Sims, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Contributing: Jessica Wilde, Conner Johnson, Steve Mundee and prep football historian George Felt.