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Taylorsville Journal

Former Ute takes over at Taylorsville

Jun 24, 2019 03:44PM ● By Greg James

Joe Johnson, a former University of Utah football player, has taken over as the Warriors new head football coach. He was a member of the 2004 Fiesta Bowl championship team. (Photo courtesy of the University of Utah athletics department)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

This fall, the Taylorsville Warriors football team will have a new head coach on the sidelines.

“The kids are really great kids,” first-year Warrior head coach Joe Johnson said. “Coach Pala (former coach) left some really good athletes and good kids in general. I think we could be a successful team this year.”

Johnson joins the Warriors after serving as the offensive coordinator at Copper Hills High School under Corey Dodds. He also was an assistant head coach at Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He and Dodds played at the University of Utah under then-head coach Urban Meyer. His team defeated the University of Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to complete an undefeated season. Johnson said Meyer has had an influence on his coaching career.

“We are geared toward a student-athlete,” he said. “The kids definitely need that attitude in and out of school. We will run a spread offense, and our defensive front will be different depending on the team we face.” 

Team concepts for the Warriors will not be that much different than what fans had seen in the past. This spring, they have been installing offensive philosophies and preparing the players for seven-on-seven competitions coming up this summer.

Johnson took over in May and counts nearly 40 student-athletes participating regularly in spring workouts.

“I still have that new car smell, so some the kids are coming to check us out,” Johnson said. “These kids love the game. We are not pulling teeth to get them to come out. The administration, office staff, principal and players have been a dream so far. It is the honeymoon phase.”

In preparation for their season, Johnson has noticed the amount of good talent he has returning.

“Kolbe Hays is an amazing route runner and very intelligent player,” Johnson said. “Kalauti Heimuli hits like a ton of bricks and is the heart of the team, a solid player. We also have Steele Hess, who is a big tall kid. He will be a red zone threat. He will be in the end zone for us.”

Defensively, Johnson says the Warriors will be a team to contend with.

“Tela Mulitalo is a monster in the middle of our line,” he said. “He is a strong kid. He could be a local legend. State Laufou is another lineman that is very agile. In the back of the defense, we have an absolute burner, Amari Calloway. He will be highlight reel stuff. I timed him three times at a 4.3 second 40 time. He will not be beat deep on defense. Tevita Taukeialo is also getting several colleges looking at him.”

Finding someone to take the place of Dane Leituala at quarterback could be challenging. He set several records for the Warriors and left a legacy as one of the top total yard-gainers in Utah high school history. Johnson is optimistic his replacement can handle the position.

“We have a lot of talent,” he said. “If we stay healthy, we can make some noise and compete. It is hard to replace Dane; he had game smarts. I would have loved to have him for one more season. Mr. Wolfgram (Hamani) has potential to be better than Dane. He could be somebody we talk about in a couple of years.”

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