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West Valley City Journal

It’s a different game at Granger with new football coach

Jul 03, 2019 03:49PM ● By Greg James

The Lancer football team finished last season with only 22 active players, its new coach is hoping to return the team to its top form. (Photo courtesy of Granger football)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Granger High School has hired a new football coach, taking the team to a new place.

“I was told that Granger was like full on West Valley,” first year Lancer head coach Pala Vaitu’u said. “All I heard was gangbangers and disrespectful. This is my dream job. I had been waiting for Granger to open up. I grew up in Compton, California. I want to give back to these kids. These are great kids not at all what I was expecting, they work hard. These are good, respectful kids. They are excited.”

The Lancers new coach comes to Granger after coaching the last five years at Taylorsville High School. His offense is brand new to the school.

“This takes me back to my fundamentals,” Vaitu’u said. “I have received a lot of love from this community. I am excited to be here with this team.”

Explaining concepts of the offense has been a challenge. The Lancers had played the wing-t offense for several years.

Everything that Vaitu’u is teaching is new to the Lancers. The spread offense is like a new language to many of the players. The quarterbacks rarely threw the ball. Lineman did not know how to pass block and receivers do not know how to run routes.

“We were standing at the 50-yard line and I told the receiver to run a 12-yard dig (a short pass route). He took off at the snap of the ball running 40 yards down field. I stopped the play and asked what he was doing. He said, ‘running to the 12-yard line.’ I had to laugh. That is on me to teach everything they need to know. Luckily, we now know what a 12-yard dig is,” Vaitu’u said. “It is like I am starting football for the very first time. I am back at Gremlins (beginner football).”

The spread offense will be completely different than what was run at the school in the past.

“Our offense at Taylorsville was in the top five every year. We had the No. 2 guy in the state record books in total offense (Dane Leituala, behind Austin Kafentzis from Jordan). That is the type of spread we plan on running here at Granger,” Vaitu’u said. “We did that with 39 kids on the team and not the most talent, that is what we want here.”

Production is expected to come from senior tailback Ammon Tavai.

“Ammon is lights out. He will take over for the running back last year (Mosese Sonasi). He will not miss a beat. He will run for 1,200 yards barring injury,” Vaitu’u said. 

Several players are competing for the quarterback position. 

The Lancers ended last season with 22 players on the football team. Beginning spring workouts saw 58 players participate. 

“A lot of people talked about trying to go get the Granger kids back to our school, but I said, they are gone already. Let’s worry about the kids we have and the upcoming kids. We will build from here,” Vaitu’u said.

The Lancers are scheduled to begin their season Friday, Aug. 16 at home against Syracuse.