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Warriors Football Moves into ‘SEC of Utah’

Sep 20, 2015 11:01PM ● Published by Rhett Wilkinson

Safety Dylan Apelu nabs an interception Aug. 21 against Murray. His Warriors endured perhaps the toughest non-region schedule in the state before taking on the “SEC of Utah” in Region 3. Photo courtesy Erin Apelu

By Rhett Wilkinson

Taylorsville - A cursory look at Taylorsville High School football’s early season may seem like it is reverting back to the dark days of earlier this century.

A closer look shows otherwise. The Warriors endured perhaps the toughest non-region schedule in the state before moving into a league that Coach Rodney Wells described as the “SEC of Utah.”

THS (1-3) started region play by facing Jordan, ranked in top five in Sept. 14 newspaper polls. Before that, it experienced a respectable loss and another on the road to traditional powers Davis and Timpview after a 29-point season-opening win.

Wells guided the Warriors to a co-region championship in 2013 and playoff appearances in two of his first three seasons, all of which were winning campaigns.

He insisted that he should be last on a list of due credit, after God, assistants and players, in that order.

“We have a foundation for a higher being and allow it to do what we do,” Wells said. “(Assistant coaches) are the ones are the mainstay. I get credit a lot, but… in my eyes, I’m not even part of the equation. And I get credit for what these kids do in the offseason.”

One of those players is quite literally a kid. Dane Leituala is a 14-year-old. But not only is he the Warriors’ starting quarterback, he is already a star, leading the state (all divisions) in rushing. The next quarterback on the list is ninth and Leituala is averaging 24 more yards per game than the next guy. He was welcomed in the absence of Toa Muamua, the Warriors’ top rusher and quarterback last year.

Lyric Bartley has received scholarship offers from Vanderbilt and many schools in the Pac-12 and Big XII, said Wells, who hated the idea of leaving out any player when asked who has impressed him. At least a dozen players are being recruited, Wells added.

THS reportedly looked forward to returning its receiving corps. But the wideouts were cited as Wells’ top concern through three games because they “need to catch the dang ball,” the coach said. He added that the “stout” defense, with defensive ends Bartley and Mufi Hunt, a Michigan State commit, as the greatest strength.

It’s still an “uphill battle” in Region 3, where one of its teams have won the state championship for the last seven years, each of which have seen at least two league teams in the semifinals, Wells said.

It’s all the more reason for fans to help realize what Wells described as his “vision” for the program.

“I wanted to bring a small town feel in the city,” he said. “It’s my dream… that the stores close at six o’clock because the game is at seven.”

At home, the Warriors face Brighton, Copper Hills and Cottonwood on Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 and 14, respectively. On the road, THS plays West Jordan and Bingham Sept. 25 and Oct. 8, respectively. Kickoff times are all at 7 p.m.

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