Granite Hills looks for culture upheaval

Ten seasons of four wins or less is something reminiscent of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers circa the bright orange uniforms. Ever since Granite Hills High School opened in 1999, the Cougars have had a hard time stringing together any success whatsoever, as losing has invaded the program at every level.

“It’s not just the players who had the low expectations, it is the fans as well,” Granite Hills coach Justin Price said. “It had gotten to the point where everyone just wanted us to be competitive and weren’t necessarily concerned about winning. However, we aren’t going to settle for that – it’s time to win some games.”

Price, who replaced Joel Hurtt at Granite Hills last May, is still looking for his first Desert Sky League win, as the Cougars finished 0-4 in league and 2-8 overall. Looking on the surface, its hard to believe that 2009 is the year for Granite Hills to break out, especially in a deep DSL that boasts Eastern Division runner-up Barstow, semifinalist Silverado and Ridgecrest Burroughs – who split the league title with the above two teams. But Price is defiant toward any gloom and doom predictions.

“Our record wasn’t very good, but we weren’t the easy out that we have been in the past,” Price said. “We were within 20-7 of Silverado, we gave Barstow a game and those two teams played in the semifinals. We had five other games last year that we were capable of winning – the key is winning them.”

15 starters – 9 on offense and 6 on defense – and a big senior class are the source of Price’s confidence. One of those starters, TE/LB Bryce Quigley, has verbally committed to San Diego State. With Quigley, bruising junior running back Antawuan Jones and record-setting quarterback James Lovato, the Cougars expect to bolster an offense that scored 14.7 points per game last year.

More offensive production is needed, as the defense loses half its starters from a unit that gave up a respectable 19.8 points per game a year ago. If the defense keeps its opponents around the 20-point mark again this season, Granite Hills just may make a run at an elusive .500 season.

Granite Hills’ schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 12 – RIVERSIDE RUBIDOUX
Sept. 18 – at Pacific
Sept. 25 – RIALTO
Oct. 2 – CATHEDRAL CITY
Oct. 9 – at Rim of the World
Oct. 16 – at Apple Valley
Oct. 23 – at Ridgecrest Burroughs*
Oct. 30 – VICTOR VALLEY*
Nov. 6 – SILVERADO*
Nov. 13 – at Barstow*

Note: Granite Hills plays its home games at Apple Valley High School