Prep football: 1A North preview
There's a bad taste in coach Anthony Wilcox's mouth from last season.
Wilcox witnessed nothing but potential with Altamont as it ultimately fell short last year, losing 48-19 to Diamond Ranch in the 1A quarterfinals.
"We have to get them over that hurdle, that mental hurdle that they can play with anyone for four quarters," Wilcox said. "Physically, these boys can match up with anyone they just have to start believing it."
Altamont is a small school with a little more than 200 students. It's always challenging to put together a team, but Wilcox likes working with his players to improve. It means they hold a single team practice and he works with each of the boys for them to learn their role and responsibility on the field.
Helping shape the 2014 Longhorns will be senior quarterback Riley Floy. Floy was last season's team MVP on defense as well as a dangerous slot runner for the Longhorns. Now under center, Wilcox trusts Floy to help change the culture at Altamont.
"He's a good kid, real tough kid," Wilcox said. "I'm expecting Riley to make big plays on both sides of the ball and bring that toughness we like."
Brady Farmsworth is returning as a running back. Though undersized, Wilcox said that Farmsworth will help with both pass protection and pounding the ball.
"Tough little kid, but Brady isn't afraid to put his nose in there and make a hard run," Wilcox said.
The message is the same in the weight room all summer lift hard and win as many games as possible. Like all other 1A programs, they look at Rich and Duchesne and know they have to work hard to find success.
"It's been a one-side rivalry with Duchesne for years," Wilcox said. "This year, I'd sure like to make it more competitive."
Altamont starts the season at North Summit Aug. 22.
Last year • 3-8
Key returner • Riley Floy is moving from running back to quarterback. Last year's defensive player of the year, expect Floy to command the 25-man squad with both his arm and legs.
Player to watch • Running back Brady Farmsworth lacks height but not power. Expect the senior RB to make big plays up the center of the field.
Biggest hole • Confidence. Coach Anthony Wilcox knows his players have the physical strength to compete with anyone in 1A, the Longhorns just need to believe that they can win big matches.
Need to know • Junior running back Slayton Thompson broke his foot five minutes into last season's first game. Thompson's return could provide big gains for Altamont.
Forty-seven and zero.
This isn't just Duchesne's record it is the program's legacy.
The Eagles haven't lost a game since August 27, 2010 (a span of 47 straight wins), and coach Jerry Cowan has worked his players into shape for another potentially perfect season. He knows they are the game circled on everyone else's calendar, and so do his players.
"Other teams are using our success as motivation, but our kids keep playing to win," Cowan said. "It's definitely an advantage for us to have that mental edge."
Duchesne has an embarrassment of riches in its quarterback selection process. Speedy Wyatt Remund and brutish Carson Reinhardt are trying to win the job, but Cowan has another job for the non-selected player. Remund is a sure-handed WR with excellent speed and Reinhardt is a big, tough TE that could make plays for the Eagles.
"Both guys are doing a really good job of working with each other," Cowan said. "Whoever gets selected will have a natural weapon for him."
Cowan is very excited about both the offensive and defensive lines, with five returning starters on both sides of the ball.
Running the wing-T offense, tailbacks Dylan Despain and Layne Coil will get a lot of touches. Cowan said both players are fast and durable.
Defensively, Cowan is looking towards slimmed-down lineman Jaxson Nelson (now at 260 pounds) and linebacker Anthony Peterson to make big stops for Duchesne.
"Peterson is the heart and soul of this team kind of our sparkplug," Cowan said. "Definitely plays with a lot of passion and excitement."
Duchesne travels to Layton Christian on Aug. 21 to begin its title defense.
Last season • 13-0
Key returner • Dylan Despain will be in both the offensive backfield as well as middle linebacker. A big hitter with speed (he's the Class 1A record-holder in the 100 meters), expect Despain to be a threat anywhere near the ball.
Players to watch • Lineman Jaxson Nelson dropped weight to get to 260 pounds. With his quicker speed on the defensive line, Nelson should be a hard-hitting tackler that can take over games.
Biggest hole • The team hasn't yet settled on a QB, with Wyatt Remund and Carson Reinhardt battling it out. In typical Duchesne fashion, even this can be a positive, as the player who loses the QB battle will still see plenty of action, as Remund can play TE and Reinhardt is a talented WR.
Need to know • Despain, Remund and Layne Coil all competed at the 100 meters. Duchesne will be an incredibly fast team that will try and run teams into the ground.
Last season, Milford's Jordan Hardy got the starting quarterback job after watching his older brother Jalen go down in injury to Rich. It wasn't how he wanted the starting job, but the freshman QB piloted the Tigers to the 1A quarterfinals.
Coach Thane Marshall said that Hardy is the kind of player that defines Milford football tough, dedicated and ready to win.
"He's tough. Has a lot of upside, with good leadership, and really good at reading the defense," Marshall said. "He's a very good athlete and I think he has the maturity to lead this team."
Weight and strength will be the difference-makers for the Tigers. With an offensive line with only one player less than 200 pounds, Hardy is going to have a line that gives him time to make the play or hand it off to Wade Netto or Kaydon Noyes. Netto ran for over a 1,000 yards last season and Noyes is ready to open a path for Milford.
"Wade is a tough, tough boy and Kaydon is an excellent blocker," Marshall said. "I'm expecting them to have excellent seasons."
Netto and Noyes are also expected to anchor the defense. Netto lead the state in tackles last year with 123. Marshall said providing they maintain their health, Milford's only concern is winning the mental game.
"This season is about changing the mindset play like a winner, be a winner," Marshall said. "If we play knowing we can win, we will."
Last season • 5-5
Key returner • Sophomore Jordan Hardy will be starting the season at QB. Hardy's ability to read defenses should open up play for the Tigers.
Players to watch • Two-way players Wade Netto and Kaydon Noyes will both anchor the defense and lead the running charge for Milford.
Biggest hole • The mental game. Coach Marshall is working to convince his players they are as good as any team in 1A.
Need to know • Unlike most 1A teams, Milford will have a 30-player roster. The Tigers are returning most of last season's team and boast O-line with almost every player above 200 pounds.
Coach Ashley Brown knows the key to a good season starts in the weight room.
After the Rich Rebels fell short last year in the 1A state championship to Duchesne, 14-13, Brown likes that the seniors are taking the lead in getting ready for another championship run.
Offensive linemen Riley Smith and Porter Argyle will be anchoring the line for the Rebels. With the quarterback position up for grabs, Brown likes what Riley Smith and Porter Argyle can provide in terms of protection.
"They can do it both. Riley and Porter do a good job of run- and pass-blocking," Brown said. "They can open up the game by giving the quarterback more time to make the play."
Running backs Joseph Leifson and Cash Sabey will be splitting time in the backfield. Brown describes Sabey as a true power runner with Leifson able to make moves on the perimeter.
"Cash is much more a north-south runner while Joseph is able to elude guys," Brown said. "Joseph is a really shifty runner."
Keeping his players healthy is the number one priority this season. Brown said he likes the focus of the returning players and knows they'll be ready for a rematch when they host Duchesne on Oct. 10.
"Duchesne is the one game the boys will have circled on the calendar," Brown said. "They'll be working hard to beat that undefeated team. I know our kids are excited to play them."
Last year • 9-3
Key returners • Linemen Riley Smith and Porter Argyle are expected to be the anchors for the Rebels. Able to block both the run and pass, Smith and Argyle will be the foundation of Rich's offense.
Players to watch • Running backs Cash Sabey and Joseph Leifson are the opposites sides of a coin. Sabey is a powerful north-south runner while Leifson can make plays in the open field.
Biggest hole • Rich's passing game needs to step up. Coach Ashley Brown expects more protection on the line to get the ball out faster and with better accuracy.
Need to know • The Rebels are road warriors. With only three home games, Brown expects his team to travel well and perform. Keeping them healthy and focused will be a priority this year.
By Benjamin Raskin