High school football: Union Cougars 2020 preview

Sports

Here’s an in-depth look at the Union Cougars football team heading into the 2020 season.

Note: Union finished with a 2-9 overall record in 2019 and was sixth in Region 14 with a 0-5 record. It was RPI seed No. 14 in the 3A playoffs, and was eliminated by Grantsville 48-7 in first round.

ROOSEVELT — For a quarter, and sometimes even a whole half, Union competed with most of the teams on its schedule last season. Eventually though, the lack of depth took a toll as it faded in games and struggled through a 2-9 season.

“I think we would run out of gas. We were playing a lot of the same kids on both sides of the ball, most of them weren’t getting a break,” said Union coach Matt Labrum.

Without enough depth to fill out a JV team, many players who would’ve benefitted playing at a lower level were thrust into varsity duty.

In 2020, Labrum said the depth is a bit better, particularly at the skill positions as the team returns many of last year’s contributors.

Boone Lathem was Union’s top receiver last year with 681 yards and four TDs, but this season he’s taking over at quarterback and the coaching staff is excited about the athleticism he brings to the table.

The biggest area Union hopes to see improvement from a year ago is defensively with nine returning starters. Not only do those players return with a year of experience, but physically they’re all more ready for the rigors of varsity football.

Union Cougars at a glance
Labrum’s thoughts on how his players dealt the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:

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“As we’ve been able to come back in the weight room and been able to do those things, it revitalized them, reenergized them to be able to get out. I think some of them were able to understand some things they took for granted and they don’t do that anymore. They have that opportunity to be back but they could lose it real fast if things don’t change, so a lot of them are making the best of what they have.”

Union offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Cameron Shumway

2019 offense: 18.0 ppg (12th in 3A)

2019 offensive statistics
Seven returning starters
Spread offense
Returning offensive starters
Trevyn Braithwaite (WR)
Boone Lathum (WR) — moving QB
Chandler Culp (WR)
Ryne Russell (WR/RB)
Owen Cook (OL)
Zach Foote (OL)
Raef Swain (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Jory Jenkins (WR)
Imged Alatabi (WR)
Alec Labrum (WR)
Tracer Schmitt (RB)
Lannin Richman (RB)
Labrum’s keys for offensive success in 2020:

“It always start on the line. If our lineman are shore and we can run the ball then it definitely opens up a lot more things for us. We can be pretty dynamic on the outside. I think Boone will be dynamic not only with his arms but with his legs, but it will all come down to protection with the line and being able to execute the run plays.”

Union defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Matt Labrum/Blake Fenn

2019 defense: 34.8 ppg (16th in 3A)

2019 defensive statistics
Nine returning starters
4-3 defense
Returning defensive starters
Trevyn Braithwaite (DB)
Jory Jenkins (DB)
Ryne Russell (DB)
Alec Labrum …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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