CEDAR CITY – In the game of football, size usually matters most to make life hard for the opposition.
The bigger a team is, the harder they’ll fall, to borrow a phrase.
The Cedar Redmen don’t buy into that theory, as their lineup proves for the 2014 season.
Coming off a 5-7 record, 2-4 in 3AA South, Cedar returned to the state playoffs a year ago and beat Park City on the road in the opening round. Head coach Todd Peacock, entering his 24th season, is hoping the team’s athleticism will help compensate for a lack of depth.
“We don’t have a lot of size, but the kids are working hard,” Peacock said. “Injuries could make a big difference in our season.”
If there’s one position where Peacock feels he has some security, it’s at quarterback. Senior Brecken Lewis will be the primary starter, but sophomore Mason Fakahua (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) is at the ready.
“He’s one of the fastest kids on the whole team,” Peacock said of Fakahua. “He throws really well and will probably be playing some at quarterback.”
With the inexperience, Cedar’s option offense has struggled in the past two seasons. It was shut out twice and averaged only 18.4 points per game in 2013. Lewis credited Cedar alum and new quarterback coach Jeff Oliverson for helping him with his offseason work.
“We’ve got more talent and I’m expecting a good year from us,” Lewis said. “Coach Oliverson has helped us a lot.”
As they search for more offense in the new season that starts at home against Grantsville on Aug. 22, Lewis said one big key will help his teammates get over the hump and deeper into the postseason.
“If we can eliminate turnovers, we’ll be set,” Lewis said. “We turned the ball over too much last year. … If we can execute our offense more, we’ll be able to compete with all of the other (3AA South) teams.”
Lewis threw eight of Cedar’s 15 interceptions last season, but ran for a team-best nine touchdowns. He’ll have an offensive line that may be lacking in experience — led by junior center Koleman Kimber, junior guard McCrae Murray and senior tackle Dallin Jacoby — but not in effort.
“We’re never the biggest, but the line definitely has heart, a good, solid offensive line,” Lewis said.
One of the primary runners Lewis will have with him in the backfield is senior Dallin Grover, who ran for 372 yards with five touchdowns in 2013.
“My confidence has grown with the work ethic we’ve shown this summer,” Grover said. “We want to outwork people. The bigger they are, the faster they’ll get tired.”
Other than shutouts against Desert Hills (25-0) and Dixie (41-0), Cedar’s other region losses were by less than a touchdown to Snow Canyon (29-26) and Pine View (21-14). With two of the three non-region games at home (vs. Grantsville and Canyon View before going on the road to Skyline), Grover believes they’ll set the Redmen up well for the games that count.
“After last year, we don’t want (a 1-2 start) to happen again,” Grover said. “We’ll be a lot more prepared and a lot more able.”
All of the six playoff qualifiers in 3AA South reached the quarterfinals in 2013. Grover said that only enhances the motivation and adds to the reputation of the region as a state powerhouse.
“This region isn’t one to mess with,” Grover said. “It gives you a better chance to play everyone else in the state and see how we compare to them. … If we keep executing and keep our tenacity up, we can go far.”
After the non-region portion, the Redmen open 3AA South play at Desert Hills on Sept. 12.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @Tomzsports.
Cedar Redmen 2014 Schedule
• Aug. 22: vs. Grantsville, 7 p.m.
• Aug. 29: vs. Canyon View, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 5: at Skyline, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 12: at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 19: vs. Hurricane, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 3: at Pine View, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 9: vs. Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 15: at Dixie, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 24: vs. Payson, 7 p.m.