Snow Canyon Warriors: Sour ending in 2014 drives this year’s SC squad

Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Note: This is one of six football previews for the upcoming 3AA South Region season, which begins Thursday and Friday nights.

ST. GEORGE – Rededication. It’s an interesting word and one the Snow Canyon Warriors took to heart in the off-season.

Marcus Matua
Marcus Matua

snow-canyon-sm“Our season ended early (with a playoff loss to Bear River), earlier than we thought it should have,” SC coach Marcus Matua said. “We met with our senior leaders and the leaders from other grades and talked about what it’s going to take to get our program to the next level. We wanted to make sure everyone’s involved and that’s good because it is their program.”

Matua also talks about having more fun. Of course, everyone knows there is nothing more fun than winning.

“We had some real leaders emerge over the summer,” he said. “The boys want to go out and compete. We believe the weight room is a key to getting better. The (best) players know there are other things they should be doing besides just what the coaches ask. They know they need to go above and beyond. It’s the difference between ballers and pretenders.”

Snow Canyon’s 2014 campaign was not a disaster. Wins over Juan Diego and Cedar were tempered by close, disappointing losses to Hurricane and Desert Hills and that season-ending 27-17 defeat at Bear River.

Warrior Quarterback Jackson Nowatzke, Desert Hills vs.Snow Canyon,  St. George, Utah, Oct. 15, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News
Warrior Quarterback Jackson Nowatzke, Desert Hills vs.Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 15, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Jackson Nowatzke will take the reins of the offense schemed by his dad, former BYU receiver Tim Nowatzke. Josh Barnes is back at running back. He was explosive at times last season, but also struggled to stay healthy. With three returning offensive linemen — Wyatt Brinkerhoff, Jaden Lacayo and Spencer Snow — Coach Nowatzke is hoping the offense will turn some heads in 2015.

“My job as an offensive coach is to allow the athletes to go be athletes,” he said. “Last year I probably over-coached them, trying to out-scheme and out-strategize the opponent. My job this year is to simplify and to teach and just let them go be players.”

The Warriors will scrap some of their favored offensive sets (pistol, shotgun wing) and go to a full spread formation, similar to what most 3AA South teams are running. But whatever scheme is out there, Jackson Nowatzke knows it won’t make a difference if the effort isn’t there.

“One thing I learned from last year is what it takes to win,” he said. “You have to understand how important every single play is. You can’t take any plays off when you’re at this level. You can’t take anything for granted. You’ve got to get all those little things down.”

Snow Canyon receiver TJ Taimi. Snow Canyon at Pine View, St. George, Utah, September 12, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News
Snow Canyon receiver TJ Taimi. Snow Canyon at Pine View, St. George, Utah, September 12, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Nowatzke, who started three games last season, will look to a pair of electric receivers when he does go to the air. TJ Taimi and Jake Rhea took turns having big games in 2014, with Taimi racking up nearly 600 yards receiving and Rhea providing a strong sideline presence.

On defense. the front seven look strong, in particular linemen Joe Servati, Brock Staheli and Britton Webster and linebackers Barnes and Teagan Mendenhall. Chris Poulsen provides athleticism on both sides of the ball at WR and DB and Dylan Parry is a big hitter.

But until Snow Canyon can climb into that upper half of the region, the respect will have to wait.

“We have the athletes to go out and ball,” Matua said. “We’re going to surprise some people. We’re going to be seeded fifth and that’s great. We haven’t done anything yet to be first, second or third. It’s time to get our big boy pants on and go out and play.”

Snow Canyon File

Head coach: Marcus Matua (3rd season, 11-11)

Last year: 4-7, lost to Bear River in the first round

Returnees: offense 5, defense 3

2015 Schedule:

Date Game Time/result
Fri. Aug. 21, 2015 at Payson 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Aug. 28, 2015 at Cottonwood 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 4, 2015 Juan Diego 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 11, 2015 Ogden 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 18, 2015 Pine View 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 25, 2015 at Cedar 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Oct. 1, 2015 at Dixie 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Oct. 8, 2015 Desert Hills 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 23, 2015 Hurricane 7:00 p.m.

2015 Key Players

Offense — Nowatzke is the man in the new spread offense, but he has a lot of tools, with Taimi, Rhea, Barnes and Poulsen — all excellent athletes — ready to make big plays. Barnes could be poised for a huge season if he can stay off of the trainer’s table.

Defense — The trio of fierce D-linemen — Staheli, Servati and Webster — have to have defensive coordinator Mike Esplin foaming at the mouth. If Mendenhall and Barnes can make plays behind those guys, the defense could be excellent.

2014 results:

Snow Canyon 42, Copper Hills 35 Final (OT)
Cottonwood 35, Snow Canyon 14 Final
Snow Canyon 34, Juan Diego 28 Final (OT)
Pine View 59, Snow Canyon 28 Final
Ruben S. Ayala, Calif. 23, Snow Canyon 7 Final
Snow Canyon 16, Payson 6 Final
Hurricane 21, Snow Canyon 13 Final
Snow Canyon 10, Cedar 7 Final
Desert Hills 7, Snow Canyon 3 Final
Dixie 46, Snow Canyon 14 Final
Bear River 27, Snow Canyon 17 Final

Last 5 years
2014 — 4-7 (2-4 in 3AA South, First round)
2013 — 7-4 (3-3 in 3AA South, Quarterfinals)
2012 — 6-4 (3-3 in Region 9, Missed playoffs)
2011 — 2-7 (1-5 in Region 9, Missed playoffs)
2010 — 3-6 (3-3 in Region 9, Missed playoffs)

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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