Pirates football captures hopes of a communityOct 08, 2018 02:51PM ● By Jana Klopsch
The defensive line has been a key to the undefeated start of the Cyprus Pirates football team. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The excitement is back in the small Salt Lake Valley community of Magna. The Cyprus Pirates football team has captured the hearts of their fans and student body.
A valiant come back against Spanish Fork led by junior quarterback Parker Meldrum on Sept. 7 had fans driving by the stadium, stopping and crowding the fence line to catch a glimpse. The rowdy crowd and timely play of the team quickly turned momentum in their favor. They scored 28 unanswered points and their defense stopped a two-point conversion attempt for a 35-34 victory.
“We play to win and condition to win. This season we have had to make the plays to win and it is something special,” head coach Jed Smith said.
For the first time since 2007 the Pirates have started their season with four straight victories. The four wins are more than the team has experienced in eight of the last 10 years. Last season they placed fourth in Region 2 and qualified for a first round playoff matchup with the eventual state champion Bingham Miners.
“We want to be Region 2 champions. I think the potential is there. We believe the sky's the limit. We have size and strength. We have speed in the right areas. We want to finish up at Rice Eccles Stadium and play on the turf,” Smith said.
Meldrum has settled in as the team's quarterback. Against Spanish Fork he completed 16 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one more.
“When Parker (Meldrum) stops thinking and just plays he is one great quarterback,” Smith said.
Meldrum believes his team has the talent to succeed.
“We need to settle in and play the entire game with full intensity. Our defense stepped it up. Once I started passing better it opens up the game. Like coach said, we condition to finish the game,” Meldrum said.
The Pirates defense is led by senior linebacker Lopeti Aiolupotea. He leads the team in tackles after four games with 25 solo tackles. He is able to get to the ball carrier because of the play of the defensive line that includes Amon Gasu, Alex Lanktree and Sosefo Moimoi.
“Our defense has played really well. We have been very fortunate to have them keep us in the games,” Smith said.
Special teams is a definite strength for the Pirates. The return team of Isaia Sedillo and Davousie Zissi has averaged nearly 17 yards per return.
The Pirates placekicker, Ivan Ortiz, connected on a 40-yard extra point and kicked three straight kickoffs through the end zone.
“He (Ortiz) does not miss. He is phenomenal and has a strong leg. He is one that could go on to college and play for sure. I would like for him to have the opportunity,” Smith said.
The Pirates open their Region 2 season against Hunter Sept. 14 (after press deadline). They are 4-11 all-time against the Wolverines and have not beat them since 2001.
Their Region 2 schedule also includes Kearns, Granger and Hillcrest. The state 6A football tournament is scheduled to begin Oct. 26.
“We have a lot of heart. The kids also believe they can win. It is easy when you are down 28-7 to say it is not our night and give up. They do not. We are working hard to attain our goals,” Smith said.