BEAVER – During its recent run of success, the Beaver football team has had senior depth one year, and then youth in the following year.
In 2013, the Beavers had a big senior class and finished with a 9-2 record, winning the 2A South regular-season title and reaching the state semifinals for the first time since 2002.
True to the pattern, this year’s Beaver team will by relying heavily on underclassmen. Head coach Steve Hutchings, entering his 10th season at the helm, said he expects only “two or three” of five seniors on the roster to be in starting roles.
“I’m hoping we stay positive through the first part of the year,” Hutchings said. “We have some good players, but if things don’t go our way here or there, we have to build the young kids up.”
Leading the charge of the youth brigade, junior Matthew Roberts takes over for Michael Roberts at the quarterback position. After having played primarily at linebacker and coming on in relief for his older brother in several games last season, Matthew is ready for the leadership role.
“Last year, everyone thought we would have a down year, but it was one of the best ones we’ve had in a long time,” Roberts said. “We don’t have a lot of seniors this year, but we’re pretty confident we can come out and perform well.”
The Beavers will open at home with Canyon View on Friday night. Last year, Beaver survived four early fumbles and wiped out a 13-0 deficit on its way to a 45-13 win.
“That game gave us confidence throughout the year that we could actually play,” Roberts said. “It was nice to do it to a 3A team, but we can’t expect it again this year because they’ll be a lot better.”
After a non-region visit to rival Kanab on Aug. 29, the Beavers begin defense of their 2A South title on the road at Parowan the following week. But the one game Hutchings is looking forward to comes Sept. 12 when the Beavers host 2A champ South Summit.
Last year, the Wildcats handed Beaver both of its losses, including a 37-6 decision in the regular season. After that game, the Beavers reeled off six wins in a row before falling to the Wildcats 14-7 in the 2A semifinals at Eccles Coliseum.
“By the time we play South Summit, we just want to play hard and see where we’re at,” Hutchings said. “Last year, they beat us pretty good and told us where we were, where we needed to be and how hard we needed to work to get to the end.”
Among the few senior starters Beaver will have is lineman Gideon White, who had to watch from the sidelines for three years as he dealt with surgery to repair a slipped disc that forced his spine out of alignment. He was able to play basketball and baseball before being cleared by doctors to return to the field last season, as he played the final four games.
“We can top what we did last year,” White said. “We have a very strong junior and sophomore class. Even though our senior class is small, there’s still a lot of leadership in it.”
Beaver 2014 Schedule
• Aug. 22: vs. Canyon View, 7 p.m.
• Aug. 29: at Kanab, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 5: at Parowan, 5 p.m.
• Sept. 12: vs. S. Summit, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 19: at. Grand, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 26: vs. San Juan, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 3: vs. N. Sevier, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 10: at S. Sevier, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 16: vs. Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter, @Tomzsports.