ST. GEORGE – Two seasons ago, Pine View coach Ray Hosner decided to go with a youth movement. Eying a talented freshman class, the coach promoted many of those youngsters to play at varsity, seven of whom started. He also brought up several sophomores.
Now those talented young men are juniors and seniors and the Panthers feel like the dividends for that early experience will pay off.
“We knew there would be a little bit of a lapse as we had to depend a lot on these young kids,” Hosner said. “But now these kids have some swagger because they know they can compete at this level.”
The headliners for Pine View are quarterback Kody Wilstead and linebacker Thor Katoa. Wilstead passed for 1,120 yards and 13 touchdowns, despite missing five games with an ankle injury. Katoa is a rangy LB who led the team in tackles.
The junior Wilstead said his ankle is 100 percent and Hosner said he had a phenomenal summer at several different camps, including one in San Diego. Wilstead is being recruited by teams from the Pac-12, Mountain West and recently got offered by Louisville.
“He’s a special talent,” Hosner said. “He’s got a lot of college coaches very interested. And we have a lot of good talent surrounding him as well. We think we’ll be able to move the ball pretty well.”
Pine View may struggle early with only one returning starter on the offensive line (Germo Fierro). Also, Pano Tiatia, who is expected to be a star at running back for the Panthers, will be held out of contact drills and games until mid-September. The junior is a world-class junior boxer and will be boxing for a gold medal early next month. Hosner said they can live without him until then.
“He wants to come out in full pads, but we’re going to keep him out,” Hosner said. “We want him to go and win a gold medal. He should be back by the Snow Canyon game (Sept. 13). We have some other quality backs in Justice Santiago and Tristan Duran.”
A familiar face is back on the sideline for Pine View. Scott Anderson, who was the offensive coordinator during the prolific James Lark years at PV, will be calling plays this season. Anderson, who is the artistic director at Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts, has consulted with the team (mostly film analysis) the past few seasons.
Though Pine View has never won a football state championship, the Panthers established something pretty special a decade ago, making it at least to the state semifinals in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, compiling a 47-7 record in those four seasons.
So what will it take to get back to that elite status?
“One thing – give effort,” Hosner said. “That’s the focus of what we do. When I come to practice, I want to see kids giving effort. When we were playing for state championships, our guys were small, but we were able to get it done by teaching our players heart and effort.”
PINE VIEW FILE
Head Coach: Ray Hosner (13th year, 101-37)
Last Season: 7-4, 3-3 in Region 9, lost in 1st round of playoffs
Last Season PPG: 29.0; PAG: 21.5
Home Field: Panther Stadium
Quarterbacks: Almost the entire region will be breaking in new quarterbacks, but not Pine View. Wilstead is the man and an injury-free year could mean big numbers for the junior signal-caller. Dylan Draper is the back-up.
Running backs: Tiatia should be very good when he returns, but when will that be? Hosner said probably Sept. 13 vs. Snow Canyon. The Panthers will turn to Justice Santiago and Tristan Duran in the meantime.
Receivers: This looks like a real strength for the Panthers, with Jack Bangerter, Colton Miller, Gage Afatasi, Bladen Hosner and Cason Prisbrey all returning to catch passes from Wilstead.
Offensive line: Four seniors graduated from last year’s team, plus coach Dale Stott stepped down, so the PV line is in for an overhaul. Fierro is the lone returner, but PV expects big things from Cory Kamachi, Hona Tiatia, Ray Fiame and Harrison Goebel.
Defensive line: Taylor Taumea will lead this group along with several of the O-line starters going both ways.
Linebackers: Katoa and Kaden Kreager will be forces to be reckoned with.
Defensive backs: Hosner loves the experience and skill of his DBs. Tristan Duran and Jaden Ah Quin are three-year starters, plus Bangerter, Miller and Draper will factor in.
Special teams: The Panthers have experience in the kicking game as well, with Ethan Baer back for his third season as the placekicker and Mitchell Stephenson returning as the punter. Baer scored 42 points (four field goals, 38 PATs) last year and Stephenson has been booming points in the preseason.
Intangibles: With tons of experience, the Panthers should be savvy as to what’s needed to win games. The big question mark will be the offensive line and a good way to break that line in is against teams like Judge, Orem and Lehi, all decent, but none great. One scheduling quirk: PV has a bye in the last week of the season, plus if they finish in the top two in region, will get a playoff bye. That means the Panthers could go from Oct. 16 to Nov. 9 between games, a span of 24 days.
Pine View Schedule
(Non-league difficulty C)
8/23 Pine View @ Judge Memorial
8/30 Orem @ Pine View
9/06 Pine View @ Lehi
9/13 Pine View @ Snow Canyon
9/20 Dixie @ Pine View
9/27 Desert Hills @ Pine View
10/4 Pine View @ Cedar
10/10 Pine View @ Hurricane
10/16 Payson @ Pine View
2013 3AA South Region Media prediction:
Rank Team (1st vts) total points
1. Desert Hills (4) 51 points
2. Pine View (1) 44 points
3. Hurricane (2) 41 points
4. Dixie (1) 38 points
5. Snow Canyon 18 points
6. Cedar 16 points
7. Payson 15 points
* Editor’s note: This week the STGNews sports department previews the new 3AA South Region. Preview schedule: Monday — Cedar and Payson; Tuesday — Snow Canyon and Pine View; Wednesday — Dixie and Hurricane; Thursday — Desert Hills; Friday — Gameday preview caps.
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