ST. GEORGE — The difference between winning and losing can be minuscule sometimes. Just ask the Pine View Panthers.
Last season Pine View lost five games and had a losing record for the first time under current head coach Ray Hosner. Four of those five losses were by a touchdown or less.
“For a variety of reasons, we didn’t finish plays and we didn’t finish games last year,” Panthers coach Ray Hosner said. “The biggest problem was that I, as the head coach, wasn’t holding people accountable for every play.”
So the long, hot summer for Pine View has been so dedicated. “Work hard and finish every play, every time,” is the theme the Panthers have followed.
“Basically, we want high intensity every time we are on the field,” Hosner said. “Whether it’s practice or a game or whatever, and even when we are exhausted, we want to give everything we have.”
Pine View has to feel pretty good about some of this summer’s results. At the University of Utah’s “Ute Shoot” 7-on-7 competition, the Panthers made it to the finals, beating Cottonwood along the way, before falling to 5A Jordan.
Then at the UNLV 7-on-7, Pine View best Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman before falling in the finals to Basic (Nev.).
But most coaches know 7-on-7 doesn’t translate to success when the big linemen are on the field. So a good performance at Dixie State also had Hosner pleased.
“The big thing is that we were able to face Basic again, after they had beaten us at UNLV,” he said. “And we really took it to them. That felt good.”
The Panthers have some holes to fill, but quarterback is not one of them. Sophomore Cody Wilstead is back and better than ever. He started about half the games last season, but has really taken off and was the driving force behind those strong 7-on-7 tournament showings.
“It’s been a lot of fun watching those freshmen from last year starting to grow up and mature,” Hosner said. “Cody Wilstead has really done a great job this summer. I think five of his six touchdowns (in the semifinals) at Utah were to Bladen (Hosner).”
Coach Hosner also mentioned linebacker Tyker Olds, who has been moved from outside linebacker to middle LB.
“He’s one of those guys we anticipated would be good,” he said. “Middle is really his natural position. He’s tearing it up.”
Other guys the Panthers staff expects to be key contributors are defensive lineman Wes Moeai, safety Austin Gibbs, and defensive back Jack Bangerter.
Despite missing the playoffs last season, Pine View is ranked fifth by several media outlets. Hosner said that is not a big surprise.
“Our region is so tough that if you can survive it, you will do well against the rest of the state,” he said. “This is like the SEC of 3A football. Just look at recent history.”
Hosner, who had back surgery this summer, said he is recovering well and is able to walk without pain.
“If everyone else stays healthy, I don’t mind taking the pain,” he said.
The Panthers open the season Aug. 17 at East, a 4A finalist from last season. Pine View plays four of its first five games on the road.
Pine View Football
Fri., Aug. 17 – at East
Fri., Aug. 24 – at Orem
Fri., Aug. 31 – Uintah
Fri., Sept. 7 – at Dixie
Fri., Sept. 14 – at Desert Hills
Fri., Sept. 21 – Cedar
Fri., Sept. 28 – Hurricane
Fri., Oct. 5 – at Canyon View
Thu., Oct. 11 – Bear River (3 p.m. at Snow College)
Thu., Oct. 18 – Snow Canyon
Copyright 2012 St. George News.