Pirates pocket preseason victoriesOct 06, 2017 12:35PM ● By Greg James
The Cyprus Pirates football team is supported by the community that fills the stands on Friday nights. (Greg James/City Journals)
The Cyprus Pirates opened their 2017 football season by knocking off two wins in its first three games. Its players and coaches are hoping to see the improvement they have been striving for as a team.
“You know against Copper Hills they did some things against us schematically that caused us some problems for our offensive line. We had to make adjustments which the kids did and we found success in the pass game. That opened up our run game and allowed us to do what we do best,” Head Coach Jed Smith said.
Smith began an intensive rebuilding program two years ago when he took over the head coaching position for the Pirates. He began developing underclassman by investing time in the sophomores and little league programs.
Sophomore quarterback Parker Meldrum is an example of the Pirates efforts. The 6-foot-1, 167 lb. offensive leader has completed 53 passes this season for 933 yards. He has completed 58 percent of his passes for nearly 233 yards per game. At press deadline he had seven touchdowns.
“Parker (Meldrum) is a gunslinger. He has that mentality and sometimes we hate it, but usually we love his decisions. Overall he is a gamer. We are excited about him. He makes some big throws and big decisions for us,” Smith said.
In the game Sept. 1 against Copper Hills, the Grizzlies grabbed the second half kickoff and seemed to take control of the game. Meldrum came out for the Pirates first possession of the half, and showed he was not going to give up. He launched a beautiful pass nearly 50 yards through the air for a touchdown. The Pirates never looked back and defeated the Grizzlies 48-26.
The Pirates finished their preseason with a 2-2 record. They defeated Copper Hills and Grantsville. They lost two close games to Pine View 42-31 and West 33-21.
“Fortunate for us the kids began to settle in and take care of assignments. Soujah (Gasu) has that finishing speed and has really helped us out,” Smith said.
Gasu is the team’s leading rusher. In five games he has amassed 431 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
“I feel like we have started to play up to our level. It makes me feel great to see us succeed. When I get the opportunity and get the ball I want to turn in an effort,” Gasu said.
Since 2014 the Pirates have only had three victories. This season with one more they could equal that total. Smith said he has noticed the players carrying themselves with more confidence.
“I have been a little nervous, but I am confident in my receivers. I knew that if I threw it up and let them go get it they will catch it and score. We believe in ourselves and are practicing a lot harder than we ever have. I feel like I need to continue to improve my reads and not force the ball,” Meldrum said.
The Pirates first Region matchup was scheduled for Sept. 15 against Hunter High School (after press deadline). They will compete in Region 2 against Granger, Hillcrest, Hunter and Kearns.
“For us we have some tough opponents. Our region is big, it’s strong and powerful football. We feel like we are unproven and have a long way to go,” Smith said.
The Pirates have competed in only one state playoff game since 2009.
The state tournament is scheduled to begin Oct. 27-28 and the championship game will be Nov. 17 at the University of Utah.