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The City Journals

Jaguars have new coach at the helm

Jan 30, 2019 11:44AM ● By Greg James

By Greg James |  gregj@mycityjournals.com 

The emotion and tenacity that the Jaguars’ new head coach played with can be seen in his team. Mason Sawyer is instilling the team how important defense can be.

In a game against Viewmont earlier this season, there was a turnover near mid-court. As the Jaguars converged on the ball, arms were flailing, the team communicated and managed to cause a bad shot, which they rebounded and in turn start their own fast break.

“Our biggest strength is how hard we play,” Sawyer said. “We take tremendous pride in our defense. I don’t know where we fall in line compared to other teams, but we work hard on that.”

The Jaguars’ defense currently ranks second in Utah High School Activities Associations 6A classification, allowing only 50.6 points per game (Pleasant Grove is first with 48.3). They are 4-3 when they hold their opponents to under 50 points. 

The 6-foot-8-inch senior Michael Dawson has become a force in the center defensively. He averages nearly one block per game and five rebounds.

“He (Dawson) is one of anchors,” Sawyer said. “We try to keep him in the middle to discourage shots defensively.” 

Jakob Josephson has been playing on an injured ankle but still averages 10.2 points per game to lead the team. In the 42-35 loss to Viewmont early on this season, he visited the trainer’s table several times before finally taking a seat for the final few minutes. 

“Jakob is one of our best players,” Sawyer said. “He really keeps us on track. We just need to have someone else step up in those tough situations.” 

Dawson is averaging eight points per game, and Gabe Evans has pitched in nine. Sawyer said he has been impressed with Kayden Al-Mosawi.

“He (Kaden) does more with less than any other player I have ever seen,” Sawyer said. “He is undersized and not the most talented or athletic kid, but he puts up some big numbers for us.” 

Al-Mosawi is averaging nearly nine points per game and five rebounds.

The Jaguars’ new coaching staff has changed a few things but has kept the foundation the team had established years ago.

“I have started adding some new things,” Sawyer said. “Our zone offense is a lot different, but our defensive principals are about the same. I have had lots of experience with these kids. I have coached our senior group for three years. We have a good relationship.” 

Sawyer graduated from West Jordan in 2009. He was part of the second state title at the school and selected First Team All-State his senior year. He also holds the school record for assists. He attended Dixie State University after graduation. In his college career he averaged 12.3 points per game and had a career high 10 assists in a game against Azusa Pacific in 2015.

He joined the Jaguar staff in 2016 and coached the sophomore and junior varsity teams under the direction of Scott Briggs. When Briggs left West Jordan, Sawyer applied for and received his opportunity to begin his coaching career.

“Honestly, there is some pressure (to following Briggs); he is an amazing coach and has had some success here,” Sawyer said. “His are big shoes to fill, but he left us in very good shape with a great group of kids. I want to win as bad as the next guy.” 

West Jordan competes in Region 3 against Taylorsville, Riverton, Herriman and Copper Hills.

West Jordan lost to Briggs and his Herriman team on Jan. 18 43-48. The Jaguars hosted Copper Hills Jan. 29.

The state basketball tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 25 at Weber State University.