As the Alta Hawks kick off their summer camp this week, coach Bob Stephens knows the big task ahead of him this fall.
With the opening of the new Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Alta lost an estimated 40 players from last year’s roster — mostly underclassmen, but a few seniors, too. That means some extra work for Stephens’ staff and players.
ASSIGNMENT » Region 3
LAST YEAR » 9-3, 4-1 in Region 3
PLAYER RETURNER » Quarterback Chipper Lucero led the way for the Hawks as a junior last season, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards and 40 touchdowns.
PLAYER TO WATCH » Offensive tackle Baron Bruce was phenomenal as a starter last season. He’ll be key in protecting Lucero in the pocket.
BIGGEST HOLE » Depth. With the opening of Corner Canyon High, Alta’s roster suffered a significant blow, with an estimated 40 underclassmen leaving the program.
NEED TO KNOW » Next to Ammon Barker, one of the state’s top wide receivers last season, Mack Richards still managed to rack up nearly 900 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
"We’re basically trying to train each player on both sides of the ball to deal with depth," he said.
While safeties work on running routes, one spot where Alta is set is under center. Quarterback Chipper Lucero threw for nearly 3,500 yards and 40 touchdowns as a junior last year. Stephens expects more of the same from Lucero and Alta’s spread attack this season.
"It’s just a matter of refining some things," Stephens said. "Chipper got better with reading defenses as the season went on. He threw some picks early because he was in the learning process. By the end of the season, he’d figured those things out."
Ammon Barker, Lucero’s favorite target from a year ago, has left for Hawaii after de-committing from UCLA. But wide receivers Mack Richards and Logan Harrison combined for more than 1,000 yards and a dozen touchdowns last year, and that duo is ready for an even bigger load this year, Stephens said.
Alta starts the season with some serious tests. The Hawks open the campaign against East, a team Stephens believes will be one of the state’s five best this year, regardless of classification. After that, Alta has to deal with Lone Peak, Class 4A champion Timpview and Allentown, N.J.
"It’s a monster," Stephens said.
But the Hawks should be battle tested and ready by the time region play begins.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.