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.
When the numbers on the roster start getting low enough, coaches can more easily remember exactly what the count is. And Kent Taylor, Ogden’s coach, could probably recite in a moment the names of all 37 players on his team a year ago.
This year? Taylor is a little less specific when he says that the team is "around 50 right now." And that kind of generalization is a good thing.
"In a pretty stacked region, that [roster size] is pretty hard to overcome," Taylor said. "A lot of coaches might be pretty discouraged. For me, I’m pretty excited."
A year ago, when senior quarterback Michael Richardson went out with a lower back injury, Taylor turned to sophomore Cameron Mortenson. Now, the Tigers at least have an experienced — and still young — signal-caller to lead the way.
"We threw him right straight into that fire," Taylor said.
Leading the protection for Mortenson is senior offensive guard Victor Villanueva (5-foot-7, 200 pounds) and senior center Wolfgang Brandt (6-3, 260). Looking to catch the ball will be senior wide receiver Parker Lowery (6-0, 170) and senior tight end Blake Harvey (5-10, 160).
Look for senior K.J. Wilson, who the coach calls one of the fastest kids in the state, to be a primary target at receiver.
Another offensive weapon for Ogden will be senior Porter Smith (5-7, 150), a slotback who the coach calls "hard as nails." Smith only missed one special teams play during the year, and that was the only play he missed, period, as he also was a starter in the defensive secondary.
With the Tigers’ still-small roster, most of the offensive starters double their duties on the other side of the ball. Asked about his defensive lineup, Taylor says it’s comprised of the "same kids."
"Size-wise, they’re about the same," said Taylor of his troops. "But mentally, they’re picking up things real well."
Last year » 2-8 overall (0-6 in Region 5)
Key returner » Cameron Mortenson (6-2, 160) was thrown into the fire at QB last year as a sophomore, due to injury. Now the position is his.
Player to watch » Senior K.J. Wilson (5-10, 175) should be Mortensen’s primary target, as coach Kent Taylor says he’s one of the fastest players in the state.
Biggest hole » All of Ogden’s linebacking corps graduated a year ago, so the Tigers are rebuilding that unit.
Need to know » An athletic group of sophomores may have their day sooner than anticipated as the season wears on.
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