New head coach, new schemes on offense, defense for Murray football team
Jun 22, 2017 04:03PM ● Published by Travis Barton
Murray High School football players began springtime outdoor workouts for next fall’s team. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
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Spring teams at Murray High School have been on a rampage this year, with the baseball, soccer and softball squads all earning first round home games in their respective 4A state tournaments.
In the midst of all that success, another Spartan team has been hard at work, hoping they too will qualify for the post season. But the football team won’t know whether that is their fate for nearly half a year.
“We’re a young team with completely new schemes on offense and defense,” said first-year head football coach Todd Thompson. “I don’t know whether we can challenge for the region title. But I do believe three wins are realistic. And I think if the kids continue to work hard, we can challenge for the fourth state tournament berth from our new region.”
Big changes are coming next year, when the Utah High School Activities Association—for the first time—unveils a sixth classification. Murray will remain in Region 6, but that will now be a 5A region, with the new 6A class featuring the state’s largest schools.
The region itself will also have an almost completely new look. Skyline and Olympus High Schools are remaining, along with Murray. But Highland, Lehi and West High Schools are joining them, while Cyprus, Hillcrest, Judge Memorial and Kearns are going elsewhere.
“We’ve got some tough schools coming in,” Thompson added. “I think it will be a three-school race in Region 6, between Highland, Lehi and Olympus. I think the rest of us will be fighting it out for the fourth playoff spot. But you never know. We could surprise some people.”
Since being named the new head football coach last winter, Thompson has been busy filling out his staff, while also overseeing his athletes in the weight room and out on the field.
The large staff of assistant coaches includes many people who coached last year (under former head coach Blaine Monkres) along with several others who’ve been on the Spartan sideline before, but not for several years. Many of them, including head coach Thompson, are also Murray graduates.
“I’m pleased to have so many talented coaches helping out,” Thompson said.
In addition to wearing the head coach cap, Thompson will also serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The defensive coordinator is Cody Caputo, who played at Dixie State and more recently was an assistant coach at Roy when the Royals qualified for the 2014 state championship game.
“I’m giving Cody pretty much free rein to run the defense,” Thompson said. “Last year, the team ran a three-man defensive line, while this year we’re switching to a four-man front, with two linebackers and five defensive backs. I’m comfortable with what he is doing over there.”
Thompson is also revamping the offense, from a spread formation a year ago, to a veer offense this season.
“Our quarterback won’t run out of the shotgun nearly as much as he did last year,” Thompson said. “We have some good receivers; but we want to control the ball more and run the clock. It will be a different look.”
So far his players seem to be buying into the new approach.
Linebacker and running back Brandon Alvarez will be playing his fourth season of Spartan football this fall. “Everyone likes the new coach,” he said. “He’s always encouraging us to hustle and really emphasizes effort and conditioning. I think we’ll be much improved.”
Another four-year Murray player agrees. Isaac Taeoalii is a wide receiver and safety whose father, Jeremy, also serves as one of the assistant coaches.
“Coach Thompson is funny and shows he genuinely cares about us,” he said. “Since so many of our coaches are Murray graduates, they expect us to work hard to carry on our school tradition.”
The team will participate in a couple of passing league tournaments in June before taking July off as state rules require.
The Spartans open their football season with a pair of non-region home games, hosting Taylorsville August 18 and Lehi’s Skyridge High School August 25.