Brian Baldwin- Afternoons on KLCY and Sports Coverage
Since arriving in the Basin in 2007 I have had a particular interest in high school football here in the basin. I covered the Uintah Utes my first year here for a radio station. I would update every quarter on the air and give a run down of what had happened. That wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to have a bigger part in the game. For the next 3 years, 2008-2010, I was on the UIntah Utes coaching staff. Once I left before the 2011 season I signed up to cover the team again for both TV and radio in different capacities. There has been only one season since I arrived where I haven’t directly covered Ute Footbal, and that was 2013. I missed it so much that I immediately came back to covering the Utes doing the Play by Play for KVEL. This year I have a sweet gig where I get to coach during the week, but still bring the games live on the radio.
One thing that I have always loved about our community was the small town feeling, in a large town. We really aren’t that small, but we do care about our football team. There hasn’t been much to cheer about as we have only been in the playoffs 3 times in the last 10 years. We have only had 1 winning season during that stretch, and ironically when we were 5-4 in 2008 we didn’t make the playoffs.
During my time coaching and covering the Utes we have lost to a Desert Hills team that had never won, or even played a game before. We watched as Maple Mountain players carried their coach off the field after their first win in school history (we were also their 2nd win ever a few weeks later…). We have had 1 win, 2 win, 3 win seasons losing far more than that each season. You may have to stop and ask, “why are you bringing this up?” I’m bringing this up because there is something special about Uintah Football. Sure, we lose to Union as much as we beat them. We usually have more away games than home games (nothing closer than 3 hours away except Union). We have only won one state championship, and when was the last time we took region?
Here is what is special. #1 This town supports this team no matter what, #2 From what we saw this last Friday night we will be having much to cheer about this year, #3 We have SIX home games this year, #4 We have a coach that didn’t just take a job, he wanted to bring winning to the Utes.
Coach Heaps shows up to practice in sandals on occasion. He shows confidence in his assistants and doesn’t hover over them, or micro manage. He preeches unity and does not get uncontrollably upset (at least I haven’t seen it yet). The coach knows when to relax and when to coach. He knows his limits, and his players limits. In fact, he knows that his players can do more. During the practices throughout the summer, and the week before the season began I have watched him work his players harder than I have ever witnessed from any team. He has instilled a confidence in his players, especially his varsity squad. His players respect him, but do not fear him. Instead they fear their conditioning Coach Keddy instead haha.
When I showed up to my first practice in July the one thing that stood out in my mind was that this team was confident. The Ute teams of the past have always been described as ‘tough,’ but they also had moments where it looked like they had had enough or lost interest. This team, this year, has acquired a wealth of talent. These players do not believe that they will be stopped. You have an honor roll quarterback in Kyle Henderson who is as focused during practice as I have seen. You have the Breakfield Twins, Dallin and Dustin, who have worked hard in the weight room, who are fast, tough, skilled, and confident. Mike Jones is a work horse and will be the hammer. Cruz Leyba, in my words, is the little guy that can be asked to step in for “special assignments,” whether it is to shut down the hot guy, or to get in someone’s head. I’ve seen this from Cruz in both basketball and football. He is also skilled and hard to stop. There is Cameron Peterson who has worked hard and already come up big for the Utes in their opener. There is the Junior Corbin Allen who is on the field almost every play as a Tight End/Defensive End. Don’t forget about the linemen. There is size, strength, humor, intelligence and a desire for success from Seniors and Juniors. Don’t forget about the Kicker Treven (I’m sure I’ll misspell his last name) who has proved he can hit the big kick, but also has range and should have colleges looking at him.
Mark my words, and it isn’t just because they are 1 and 0, but this team is special. Pineview is always a tough trip, but it is only preseason and another learning experience. The real test comes the week after when the Utes host Union who always is ready for the Utes. Then we are on to Payson and Salem Hills. 5-0 is a possibility, and even if we don’t have that record after 5 weeks it will not change my mind. I will say it again: This is a special team and there is much to look forward to. Come join us on Friday night. 5 Home games left.