Prep football preview: Westlake Thunder
EDITOR’S NOTE » This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.
Westlake is still a relatively new school, so the transition to being competitive in football is not that easy. Combine that with being moved to 5A last year — the first year for coach Steve Clements — and becoming a threat is going to take some time.
The good news — the Thunder graduated only 16 seniors last year and they will take the field with 32 this year.
"We’re 10 times ahead of where we were last year as far as knowledge of myself, my system, knowledge of the offense, knowledge of the defense, and special teams," Clements said.
While the lack of seniors hurt last year, it did allow the Thunder to give younger players some on-field experience, which will help this year.
"Although we have some young kids in certain positions, we’re more of a veteran team," Clements said.
The coach knows there will still be struggles, but chooses to look on the positive side of things. Like everyone else, he wants to win, but just seeing his program progress is a win in his eyes.
"We don’t look at wins and losses because we’re in the second year of our infancy, and I really think that we kind of started from scratch," he explained. "Actually, even below scratch last year, when I came in [and] making that jump to 5A."
Whether it is one to two years, or if they surprise their Region 4 foes with their young talent in 2014, the depth in order to be constant winners is almost in place for the Thunder program.
Last year » 3-6
Key returner » Chaz Ah You started at free safety as a freshman in 2013. In 2014, he’ll see at least some reps at quarterback, still play defense, and return kicks.
Player to watch » 6-foot-7 wide receiver Braden Holker is a star basketball player for Westlake, but this year, he’ll add football to his résumé.
Biggest hole » The Thunder’s defensive line was inexperienced already last year, and this year’s team returns only one of those starters.
Need to know » A 5A school with 4A numbers, the Thunder say they’re getting closer to establishing sufficient depth.