Street. George – The Desert Hills High School football team learns that success creates high expectations.
The Thunder overcame opponents last year and won the District 10 title. Quarterback Noah Fuailetolo completed an impressive junior campaign with over 2,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.
With Fuilitolo back for his first season alongside top-back Tiden Morris behind him in the backcourt, Desert Hills appears to be a formidable force when the Thunder is on attack.
All of this led to talk that Desert Hills are the favorites to win District 10 again this year. Just don’t tell that to sophomore coach Rick Perry.
“I never agree with what the media is saying,” Perry joked during practice Thursday night at Thunder Football Club. “It’s like I told my kids. We were picked fourth last year, and we ended up being number one. It’s fun but you play the games until the end of the season and you see where everything turns out.
“But I said to these guys, ‘It’s good to have a goal on our back. It means we did some things right last year,'” added Perry. “But it also means that we have to be much better this year. Every week the teams will do their best and we have to prepare in this way.”
Last season, Thunder fell in an early 4A exit against Pine View, losing 37-35 in the last play of the game. Desert Hills lost only one more home game to Spanish Fork in the 9-2 season.
Desert Hills will look to its senior leaders to help offset the departure of District 10 player Austin Turnbow, who last season looked like he put in a great performance in every game on both sides of football.
“You can never replace a man like that,” Berry said. “She wasn’t. Part of that is he has the heart of a giant. Austin doesn’t want to lose. When you have someone like that, he brings everyone on the team with him.”
“People step in, and you discover their strengths,” he added. “Let’s find where your skill set is and get a pattern around that and we’ll go from there. Great shoes to fill in but I’m very confident the kids are going to step up.”
Lincoln Holmes and Zack Ford are expected to be Desert Hills’ top playmakers. Ms. Kona Crowell moved from Crimson Cliffs to play Thunder, Desert Hills anticipates strong seasons from Ayzen Cummings and Javien Cummings.
All Thunder players will follow the lead of the big quarterback. The coach said that Fuilitolo is starting his third season as a Thunder Signal Connector, and he has all the pieces he needs to succeed.
“It’s getting better every year,” Berry said. “From his sophomore year into his first year he’s made a big boost, and we’re expecting another big leap this year. Our squad is very balanced. We have two really good full-backs, I think two of the best players in the state.”
“We have enough weapons on the outside that will give the teams some confrontational problems from an offensive standpoint,” Perry said. “These skillful players will take a little bit of pressure off Noah.”
Desert Hills opened the season on the road with a very difficult first game against Brighton on August 11. The 5A Bengals have been 17-2 the past two seasons.
“We’re building our schedule for our testing,” Berry said. “This area is very tough, from top to bottom every year. If you are not ready to play every week they will beat you. Brighton is a great programme, they always have a good squad. Three 5A teams are right outside the gate, so we will see where we are in a hurry.” .
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