The obstacles are the motivation, so the motivation is tremendous.
After struggling through region play last season, the Ogden Tigers and first-year coach Kent Taylor are moving up a classification to 4A, where it will be one of the smallest programs in the state.
"Our participation for football numbers is closer to 2A," Taylor said. "My entire program is about 44 kids. You can imagine what kind of challenge that is."
The Tigers can't field a sophomore team, and they expect to be playing against schools with three times as many players. Starters will have to play both ways, Taylor said.
"They better be the best-conditioned athletes around," he said, "because they don't have a choice."
But despite all those obstacles, Taylor sees some promise. His starting quarterback from a year ago, Michael Richardson, is back. So is the Tigers' "beast" running back Josh Shackleford, who rushed for nearly 800 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
"We know we've got a bit of a mountain to climb and the odds are against us," Taylor said. "But football is 11 guys against 11 guys, and we can field that. I tell them, 'Everybody's written you guys off. If you want to believe that, there's the door. Let's prove some people wrong.'"
ASSIGNMENT • Region 5
LAST YEAR • 3-7 overall, 2-4 Region 11
KEY RETURNER • Quarterback Michael Richardson threw for 16 touchdowns and was the Tigers' second-leading rusher last season.
PLAYER TO WATCH • K.J. Winslow saw action out of the backfield and lining up as a receiver as a sophomore last year. The fastest player on the Ogden roster will have a bigger role this season.
BIGGEST HOLE • The Tigers lost three linemen who had started since their sophomore seasons.
NEED TO KNOW • After moving up from Class 3A to 4A, the under-manned Tigers will need players to go both ways.