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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Colby Averett, runs for a South Summit touchdown, as Grand County faced South Summit in the 2A Championship game, Saturday, November 16, 2013.
Prep football: 2A North preview

First Published Aug 16 2014 03:17 pm • Last Updated Aug 16 2014 11:00 pm

American Leadership Academy Eagles

American Leadership Academy has never won more than three games in a season.

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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

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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.

Gunnison Bulldogs

When Gunnison’s Hunter Whitney steps under center, the junior won’t be worried about how his O-line will be defending him — they were there all last season. Where most 2A football programs struggle with maintaining players, the Bulldogs are returning Jaden Lyons, McCoy Roberts Morgan "Chippy" Harris and Braden Burrell.

"We’re real happy about our line," defensive coordinator Trent Halliday said. "These guys work hard to provide protection, and have an excellent work ethic."

Halliday is expecting a breakout season from Whitney. While he didn’t start last year, he took enough snaps to be ready for varsity. Halliday compliments his leadership, toughness and being a true pass first, run second leader.

"Hunter is smart, tough and a good leader," Halliday said. "The kids really got behind him with his attitude and example.

Defensively, corner Austin Francis and linebacker McCade Cobbs are expected to make big plays in the backfield. With new defensive schemes being implemented, Halliday trusts Francis and Cobbs to execute and lead the Bulldogs.

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