Timpanogos started last season 5-0 but won just two games the rest of the year and made a first-round playoff exit. It was the Timberwolves' best record in the last decade, but injuries derailed their strong start.
"If we stay healthy, that will be crucial for us," coach Ed Larson said.
The fourth-year coach knows keeping his starters healthy is easier said than done, so he's implemented a new motto among his staff.
"I challenged my coaches this year, you have to get the next guy up," Larson said. "You have to assume your starter will get hurt and prepare the next guy."
If the plan works, and his special emphasis on preparing every player succeeds, Timpanogos might be a dangerous team this season.
The defensive line will be particularly strong with returning senior tackle Filo Tuavao stuffing the middle, while Austin Seegmiller and TJ Masina rush from the edges. Masina is the cousin of Tuavao and a transfer from Californi, and both he and Seegmiller are big, strong, athletic defensive ends who also will play tight end.
Senior Jackson Dunford got some varsity snaps at quarterback last season and looks ready to lead the team in Larson's shotgun, air-raid offense. Perris Kim and Daniel Navarro return on the offensive line. But other than that, there will be questions regarding this team's youth.
"We got some good talent," Larson said. "But they're young and inexperienced. For us as a coaching staff, it's going to be how quickly can we eliminate dumb mistakes that youth make? And how quickly do they adjust to the speed at this level?"
ASSIGNMENT • Region 7
LAST YEAR • 7-4 overall, 4-3 Region 8
KEY RETURNER • Cory Morin, jr., LB. Morin is the quarterback of the defense, and while he hardly can be considered a returner since he barely played last season, coach Larson said he is the key to this team's success.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Tanu Aupiu, sr., LB/WR. Aupiu is a rugby player who has missed the last two seasons after transferring from Texas. Larson loves his strength and speed and has coveted him the last two seasons. He thinks if Aupiu plays well, he'll garner scholarship offers this year.
BIGGEST HOLE • Experience and depth. Larson hopes the extra work his coaches are giving the backups will help.
NEED TO KNOW • Larson knows he doesn't have elite athletes, but what he looks for are guys who make the plays when needed. They can't afford dropped passes and penalties. Larson thinks this team can go a long way if the Timberwolves avoid those mistakes.