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Cottonwood High School Football: Greatness on the Rise

Nov 06, 2015 10:05AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Sarah Almond

When Mike Tidwell accepted the position as head football coach at Cottonwood High School in April 2015, he was determined to breathe life into a struggling football program. As one of the top defensive coaches in the state, Coach Tidwell knew it might take a year or two of building the team and improving technique before the Colts could become division leaders. 

Now, barely six months after taking the job, Coach Tidwell has helped several of his players receive offers to play at Pac-12 universities and has built a defensive line that’s ranked 16th in the state. The challenge he still faces, though? Numbers. 

“When I took this position, I didn’t know the numbers were down. We only have 65 players,” Coach Tidwell said. “It’s hard to compete at the 5A level when we don’t have 5A numbers. I need bodies – like, warm-blooded bodies.” 

What’s worse, however, is the slew of injuries that have plagued this already small team. The Colts’ starting quarterback broke his leg during the second game of the season, leaving the team with only one remaining player to fill the void. Concussions and sprains have benched other players, forcing Coach Tidwell to pull guys from the defensive line to cover offensive positions, and vice versa. 

“It’s pretty tough,” senior captain Fua Pututau said. “We don’t have enough players, and some of us have to play both ways, which is hard. But we’re pushing through.” 

Pututau, one of the team’s three captains, has a bright football future ahead of him. With 10 offers from Pac-12 universities around the nation, Pututau is excited at the idea of playing at the collegiate level. He’s not alone, either. His brother, junior Taniela “Pookie” Pututau, has received four offers to play Division 1 football and his cousin, sophomore Tennessee Pututau, recently received an offer from Colorado University. 

“My first goal is to grow numbers,” Tidwell said. “My other goal as a coach is to help get these guys beyond high school. I work really hard over the summer to build relationships with college coaches to get these kids on.”

Because of the relationships Coach Tidwell has developed and cultivated with college coaches over the year, they now come to him in hopes of getting leads on promising up-and-coming players. The incentive of potentially playing ball after high school has encouraged many young players to transfer to Cottonwood High School. 

Even with a young group of players and several new guys joining the Colts, senior captain Fua Pututau is happy with the team’s changing dynamics. 

“We’ve been getting along really well,” Pututau said. “We’ve got quite a few players who transferred in and it’s been good. We get along well.”

Coach Tidwell agreed. 

“We’ve got some spectacular talent this year,” Tidwell said. “We’ve really been able to hang our hat on our defense, and I think the young talent we have coming up is going to be really beneficial in the next few years.” 

With several seniors moving on to play college football and a solid group of hard-working underclassmen strengthening the team, Tidwell is hopeful for the future of the Cottonwood High School football program. If the team can grow in numbers and gain depth throughout their defense, offense and special teams, there’s a good chance they’ll become one of the toughest contenders in the state of Utah. 

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