The Bountiful football team plays in one of the harshest regions in the state, against some of the most hyped teams and the premier prospects. The Braves never seem to be the hip pick to win region or state.
But yet, 25 out of the last 27 years, Bountiful has made the playoffs as safe a bet as you will find in Utah.
"We've got a lot of tradition," says Jake Hunt, the team's stocky fullback. "We don't talk the most, but our guys know their stuff."
After Roger Dupaix's retirement, Brave's coach Larry Wall is now the elder statesman in the Utah coaching ranks with 209 career victories. And this year should be no different, he says: Practice has been solid, the holes are filling in. The team is as cohesive as ever.
It's what he expects from a senior group that has now ventured to Rice-Eccles each of the last two seasons.
"Winning in the playoffs isn't some far-off dream for these guys," Wall says. "They know what it takes to win. They're ready to do those things."
Once again, Bountiful will be run-first, setting up a Power-I formation behind three returning offensive linemen. Although there will be a new quarterback - the battle is still ongoing - Hunt will be a go-to bruiser in the backfield.
There are even more returners on defense, where the Braves are attempting to shore up their passing coverage after ending each of the past two seasons against DI-committed mobile quarterbacks. Reps in 7-on-7 drills have helped, as have pass contain drills, but they won't know how it will work until they step on the field.
"I feel we can get back to where we've been, and hopefully further," Rylee Gautavai says. "We need to come out more focused, and we need to play four quarters."
LAST YEAR: 8-4, lost to Logan in semifinals.KEY RETURNER: Jake Hunt, senior, fullback. Anytime a 1,100-yard rusher returns, it's a good thing. The senior rusher is short but has arms as thick as loaves of bread - he'll be key in goal line situations.PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Hamilton, senior, right tackle/defensive line. He had a solid season with 46 tackles in 2011, but Bountiful could use some more sacks and pressure up front.BIGGEST HOLE: The secondary has a number of new faces, which could be problematic with Logan and Lone Peak both in the first three weeks.NEED TO KNOW: The Braves have been slow starters each of the past two years, but they shine in the postseason. They might not top East for a region title, but are a sure bet to be in the playoffs.SEASON OPENER: Hosts Lone Peak. Aug. 17 @ 7 p.m.
Previous postsJuly 25: Introduction/Riverton
July 26: Hunter/Park City
July 27: Kearns/Copper Hills
July 28: Davis/Juan DiegoJuly 30: Olympus/Judge Memorial
July 31: Alta/Grantsville
Aug. 1: Westlake/West Jordan
Aug. 2: Layton/Hillcrest
Aug. 3: Jordan/Lone Peak
Aug. 4: Viewmont/Stansbury
Aug. 6: Lehi/Cyprus
Aug. 7: Woods Cross/Syracuse
Aug. 8: Cottonwood/American Fork
Aug. 9: Granger/Tooele
Aug. 10: Murray
Kyle Goon email@example.comTwitter: @kylegoon