Prep football: Alta's offense features multiple weapons
Sandy • Has Alta quarterback Chipper Lucero been so good this season because of the skill and experience of his receivers?
Or have the Hawks' receivers posted career-best numbers because of the proficiency of a talented quarterback?
The chicken-or-the-egg riddle may not have an answer. Fans around Alta aren't searching for the solution. They simply are enjoying the results.
The Hawks enter the week 3-0 and ended a three-game losing streak to rival Bingham in the annual Black and Blue game last month.
"We've got a really good offense," senior receiver Ammon Barker said. "I think in a couple of more games we should really be rolling."
Barker and fellow senior Harrison Handley are two of the biggest reasons Alta is getting it done through the air so far. The Hawks are averaging more than 250 yards passing and have seven passing touchdowns, including four to Barker.
Barker caught scores of 25 and 37 yards, while Handley, who stands 6-foot-6, pulled in a 50-yarder for Lucero's fourth touchdown of the game in last week's thumping of Olympus.
"I just know that whenever things get tough, I have a go-to guy," Lucero, a first-year starter, said about Handley. "But all of my receivers are really good."
Handley, who caught just seven passes as a junior, made eight grabs in a season-opening victory against Timpview, accounting for a career-best 103 yards.
Barker ranks second in Class 5A with 111 yards per game and is among state leaders with four touchdowns through three games.
After just one 100-yard game in the previous two seasons, Barker already has topped the century mark twice this season, including a career-best 196 yards against Olympus.
"I think as the games continue to keep going, I will continue to get 100-yard games," Barker said. "I'm confident that we can get all of our receivers 100 yards because we have that much talent."
And should defenses decide to key on the veteran wideouts, Alta can go to junior Mack Richards, who has combined for 210 yards rushing and receiving.
It's a tight-knit group at the skill positions, one that has helped produce nearly 30 points a game one-third of the way through the regular season. That number ranks sixth in Class 5A in scoring.
"With Harrison and Ammon anchoring that group, there's two or three years of experience from both of them," Alta coach Bob Stephens said. "We're utilizing Mack as a receiver and a running back. The quandary is who am I going to get the ball into whose hands? Chipper's doing a good job with that."
Alta is 3-0 for the first time since 2008 the last time the Hawks claimed the Class 5A state title.
The receivers give plenty of credit to Lucero, who, despite being a first-year starter, is quite familiar with his teammates.
"You can tell that he's been improving over the years," Handley said about the quarterback. "I've know him since we all started as sophomores. He's been my quarterback for years, and you can see the improvement that he's been making."
And that victory at Rice-Eccles only served to whet Barker's appetite for a return visit.
"Finally got my first win up there, so that feels good," Barker said. "I'd really like to get up there again this season and show that Alta is a dominant team again. I think that's how we are, and I think that's how it should be."
Alta is 3-0 for the first time in four seasons and beat rival Bingham for the first time since 2008.
Alta's receiving trio of Ammon Barker, Harrison Handley and Mack Richards has combined for more than 650 yards and six receiving touchdowns through the first three games of the season.
Hawks quarterback Chipper Lucero has completed 60 percent of his passes and has Alta ranked sixth in Class 5A with nearly 30 points per game.