Only 30 of the state's 101 high school football teams survived the opening two weeks of the season unscathed.
Among that list are American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Roy, Highland, Canyon View, Dixie and Kanab, seven teams that started last year 0-2. Highland proved that an 0-2 start isn't a death sentence as it bounced back to win the 4A state championship last year, but must teams never overcome such a rocky start.
American Fork was one of the teams that never recovered last year from its 0-2 start as it finished the year with a 3-7 record. After easy wins over Cedar and Timpanogos to start the season — teams that beat the Cavemen by a 40-7 combined score last year — everyone associated with the program is feeling great heading into the first weekend in September.
"We're definitely more confident, and I think they should be. They've played much better football in Week 1 and Week 2 and if we can keep that up and keep getting better then we'll have a chance to compete with everyone on our schedule," said American Fork coach Aaron Behm.
Considering the circumstances, it's not a huge shock to see American Fork enjoying success this year.
When Aaron Behm was hired last season, he had just two months to get everything in place for the start of the 2010 season. That included installing the triple option, an offense based heavily on timing. Two months just wasn't enough time to get everything in place, and not surprisingly the offense ranked near the bottom of 5A.
Most of this year's players learned the triple option at the junior varsity level last year, and it's paying off.
"I think the biggest thing just comes down to having more time together as a team. Last year's group we had two months to get it together and start playing football games. We've had the entire offseason and we've known these kids for a year and that's really made a big difference," said Behm.
Senior fullback Tyler Belliston is flourishing with the extra year of experience in the offense. In two games he's racked up 278 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 10.7 yards per carry.
"Tyler has a lot going for him. He's one of the strongest kids on the team, he's one of the fastest kids on the team," said Behm. "He's got great feet, he has good vision down field, and the offensive line has been doing a good job of getting him to the second level and then Tyler has been doing a good job of making plays from there."
With games against Spanish Fork and Cottonwood in the next two weeks, and then region games against No. 1 Bingham and No. 2 Lone Peak looming later in the season, the schedule is about to get significantly tougher for the Cavemen.
Behm doesn't mind at all. In fact he welcomes the challenge for his players.
"We feel like if we keep executing and getting better every week then we'll have the ability to compete against those schools," said Behm.
STATISTICAL UPDATE: The Deseret News has received complete statistical reports from 87 of the 101 schools who played Week 2 games. Those individual offensive and defensive stats, and their two-week cumulative totals, can be found at deseretnews.com.
Individual highlights from the opening week include Stansbury's Chase Christiansen rushing for 194 yards and five touchdowns, Dixie's Tadd Challis hauling in five catches for 227 yards and three TDs, Lone Peak's Chase Hansen throwing for 221 yards and four touchdowns and Spanish Fork's Jordan Barclay intercepting two passes.
STAY CONNECTED: To keep high school football fans in touch with the action around the state, the Deseret News will post quarterly scoring updates at deseretnews.com for virtually every game in the state.
The Deseret News also recently launched a new mobile version of deseretnews.com — deseretnews.com/m/ — so be sure to have your smartphones handy with you in the bleachers so you can scroll through the scores from around the state.
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