It shouldn’t be hard to motivate anyone this year with the brutal schedule Alta faces. Four of its opponents are ranked in the Top 10 of the Deseret News preseason Top 25 rankings, while Don Bosco, N.J. — which Alta plays at Rio Tinto Stadium in Week 7 — finished last year ranked No. 1 in the country according to USA Today and MaxPreps.
“I love it. You get hard competition every Friday night,” said Handley.
This year Don Bosco begins the year ranked No. 21 according to MaxPreps.
“Win or lose, being able to compete on that level is a good thing,” said Stephens.
Alta Hawks at a glance
Coach: Bob Stephens is entering his second season as Alta’s head coach after leading the Hawks to a 9-2 record in his inaugural campaign. He’s a graduate of La Mirada High in California.
(3 returning starters; Spread offense)
Alta was the second-highest scoring team in 5A last year, and it’s hard to imagine that changing with quality quarterbacks Dylan Rivas and Chipper Lucero vying for the job. They’ll have plenty of weapons to throw to with Harrison Handley and Ammon Barker on the outside and Mack Richards at slot receiver. Alta will utilize more of a running back by committee approach this year with seniors Max Broman, Jake Forsling and Kendal Reese all expected to contribute. Senior Josh Nash is the lone returning starter on the offensive line, but he missed the final few games of the season with a broken leg.
(0 returning starters)
Alta led 5A in scoring defense last year at 13 ppg, but not one of those starters are back. Don’t expect much of a drop off at a school with a history of reloading. Sonatane Lui will anchor the defensive line after getting a little playing time last year backing up Shad Ennis. In anticipation of fewer numbers next year and in the future with the split with Corner Canyon, some offensive linemen might see some time on the defensive line as well as Alta makes a paradigm shift in regards to platooning. Alta’s linebackers had great summer camp down at Snow College, with senior Max Broman picking up an offer from Snow. Junior Jaden Johnson has emerged as a solid linebacker as well. Taylor Smart is moving from running back to safety, and big things are expected of him. Cornerback Brandon Smart is another player who should have a strong season.
Coaches preseason Region 3 straw poll: First
Deseret News Region 3 prediction: Second
Bottom line: For the better part of the last decade, Alta’s football program has benefited from a huge student body to become one of the best programs in the state. Times are changing though with the opening of neighboring Corner Canyon High School next year. In many respects, this is the swan song for Alta in its current form, and you can bet the team will be hungry to go out with a bang. Alta may lose a game or two with its difficult schedule, but if it stays healthy there’s no reason it won’t be one of the teams to beat once the 5A playoffs roll around.
Aug. 17 — at Timpview, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — BINGHAM, 8 p.m. (at Rice-Eccles Stadium)
Aug. 31 — at Olympus, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — at Jordan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — DON BOSCO, N.J., 7 p.m. (at Rio Tinto Stadium)
Oct. 5 — COPPER HILLS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Alta High School
All-time record: 234-135 (34 years)
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