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.
American Leadership Academy Eagles
American Leadership Academy has never won more than three games in a season.
It’s a fact, but not one that haunts new coach Billy Nixon. It’s a hurdle that Nixon is ready to take the Eagles over and he feels that ALA has nothing but potential this season.
"Everything is coming together. We’re hoping to win at least six games this year," Nixon said. "We have great players, coaching staff — if we don’t have a winning record, we definitely fell short."
Senior Hunter Smith will be under center. Forced to sit out last year after breaking his hand during the summer, Smith is chomping at the bit to air out the ball in the new Eagles’ offense. Nixon said that Smith has the strongest arm on the team and can connect with ALA’s high-flying slot receivers, Taylor Negus and Dallon Short.
"He might have the best arm in 2A football," Nixon said. "With targets like Taylor and Dallon, Hunter is going have a good season."
Junior Negus is described as having a college-ready body at 6-foot-3 with good hands and natural power. Short has filled in at running back during scrimmages between Tooele and Salem Hills.
Nixon’s only concern this year is on the defensive side of the ball. Lacking senior leadership, he’ll be leaning on freshmen Jackson Shockley and Owen Huff to anchor the linebacking corps.
"We definitely have some freshmen that like to hit," Nixon said. "We should be able to put this together."
Last year » 3-7
Key returner » Quarterback Hunter Smith is taking his first high school snap this year. With a strong arm and good leadership, Nixon expects Smith to put up big points for ALA.
Player to watch » Wide receiver Taylor Negus is a big strong slot receiver with good hands. Negus was described as a quarterback’s best friend in making good catches and getting yards after catch.
Biggest hole » Senior leadership on defense. With only one senior returning, Nixon is relying on hard-hitting freshmen Jackson Shockley and Owen Huff to handle defensive responsibilities.
Need to know » ALA has never won more than three games in a season. Nixon said there is talent both on and off the field that can make for a winning season for the Eagles.
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