Note: After winning two of its first four games last season, Timpanogos won only one of its final five games to finish with a 3-6 mark and failed to reach the postseason for the second straight year.
OREM — There is a whole lot of different going on with Timpanogos High football these days.
The Timberwolves have new uniforms, a new attitude, a whole new way of doing things, a new offense and a new coach. The later, the hiring of Ed Larson as the new head coach, is the reason behind all the other stuff.
Larson is a former head coach at Provo and Ogden, and is back in charge of a high school program after stints as an assistant coach at Snow College, Ricks College, Dixie State, Weber State and Springville.
The things Larson accomplished at Springville, where the Red Devils went from out of the playoffs to the state championship game in two years, are what Timpanogos administrators are hoping to piggyback on as they look for a new and stronger tradition with the football program.
"I believe that the talent level at Timpanogos High School is every bit as talented as it was at Springville. In some areas even more so," Larson said. "The key for us is to get these athletes to become football players. There is a distinction. We also have a tremendous task of turning losses into wins and the only way I know how to do that is to work."
Larson already likes the effort and commitment he's seeing from his players.
"We have had a tremendous summer training program and have made great strides. Now all that hard work hopefully translates into confidence and confidence into victories," he said.
The players are already believing the changes are going to make the T-Wolves more competitive this season, and for many more to come.
"The program seems to be running a lot more smoother and we're getting into it a lot faster," senior running back Esi Havili said. "There's just a good positive atmosphere now."
Along with the administration, Larson is hopeful that the football program will help establish more pride and tradition in the 15-year-old school.
"We want to do as much as we can to make those Timpanogos graduates feel like they have a place to come back to and show some school pride," he said.
The best way to accomplish that is to have a team that is competitive every Friday night, and a team that always conveys excellence in every way.
"Our goal is to get this program to the level that we can be serious contenders for the region championship year in and year out," Larson said.
When Larson coached at Springville the Red Devils had a game two years ago at Orem in which they upset the Tigers. That upset-win filled the players with confidence that they've carried with them since. He believes that the T-Wolves need to have a similar turn-around game this year to get things kick started.
"I don't know who it's going to be on our schedule this year, but there's going to be one game that people say we shouldn't win but we do. I think beating a team we shouldn't beat is what will really build confidence in us that will carry over," he said.
Obviously, Larson is looking to build a strong and respected football program. But he's not necessarily looking to do it with a long-term plan.
"We tell our senior class that this is your team, this is the team you're going to remember for the rest of your lives, so you have a responsibility to be the best you can be. So we want to win now."
Timpanogos Timberwolves football at a glance:
Coach: Ed Larson is in his first year at Timpanogos, but has former stints as a head coach at Ogden and Provo, where he compiled an 8-29 career record.. He also worked as an assistant at Weber State, Dixie State, Snow College, Ricks College and Springville High. He's a native of Piedmont Hills, Calif..
Offense: (6 returning starters, West Coast spread)
With Larson in charge, the T-Wolves will have a varied passing attack out of a shotgun formation, using plays taken from the old West Coast scheme and from Urban Meyers' spread offensive scheme. That game plan is perfect for all the weapons the T-Wolves have lined up. Don't be surprised to see both Damien Rivers and Zac Larson play QB. But Rivers will be the T-Wolves' do-it-all guy. Kaimana Davis, Cade Terris, Esi Havili and Danny Card will all carry the ball and catch it. A host of receivers, including Braden Nickle, Cayden Brown, Derrick Lamoreaux, Austin Murray and Deion Rutland, will be in the offensive mix. Mike Dockendorf is the only returning starter on a deep, but young offensive line.
Defense: (6 returning starters)
The T-Wolves' athleticism will be evident on the defensive side as well, with the strongest group being the linebackers. Braden Hougaard and Weston Forbes will mainly play that spot, but several of the offensive stars will help out as well. The running backs and receivers will likely go both ways and fill out the defensive backfield. Linemen Mike McNubbin, Sam Ahmu and Paul McKnight bring experience to the defensive front.
Coaches preseason Region 7 straw poll: Sixth
Deseret News preseason Region 7 prediction: Third
Bottom line: The Timberwolves are an athletic team, with enough depth and size to compete with most every team in their league. With a seasoned coach like Larson and the quality staff he's assembled, that talent should quickly blossom. The T-Wolves have the potential to be one of 4A's surprise teams, and could advance to the postseason and possibly win a game or two.
Aug. 20 - PAYSON, 7 p.m.
Aug. 27 - at American Fork, 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 - at Herriman, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 - at Lehi, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 - PROVO, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 - at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 - OREM, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 - TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 - at Westlake, 7 p.m.