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Note: Bountiful finished with an 8-5 overall record and a 4-1 record in Region 6 in 2011. It lost, 59-30, to Logan in the 4A Semifinals.
BOUNTIFUL — It wouldn’t be completely far-fetched to guess that even the morning rooster was yawning as Bountiful began practice virtually shaded in darkness with the sun still resting.
This isn’t a new concept for those who’ve grown up within the Braves' program. It’s a yearly expectation that teaches discipline and reconfirms dedication.
“That’s just Bountiful football. That’s kind of been our tradition — we get here and get it done and try to beat the heat a little bit,” said Bountiful coach Larry Wall. “Our guys’ commitment has been outstanding all summer. We’ve had good numbers here and it’s a priority in their lives. That’s just what we do.”
Showing up bright and early is one thing Bountiful does — winning is another thing it's very good at. Now in his 28th season leading the Braves, Wall became the winningest active coach in the state of Utah this offseason after legendary Skyline coach Roger Dupaix retired.
In every season under Wall’s tutelage, Bountiful has qualified for the playoffs. During that time, the Braves have a 36-23 overall postseason record including four state titles. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons the Braves made consecutive semifinal appearances.
However, simply making it to the "Turf" of Rice-Eccles Stadium isn’t enough in an established program with expectations as high as Bountiful.
"I think the attitude of our guys is we want take that next step and get to the finals and not really be satisfied with the semis. We’ve got a number of kids returning, so they know what it takes to get there,” Wall said. “That’s a big part of it. If it’s just a lofty goal and nobody has ever been there before sometimes it’s hard to find your way there. A good portion of these kids have been to the semis and a number of them have been two times in a row.”
If Bountiful is to return to the state title game for the first time since hoisting the trophy in 2003, it’ll have accomplish what it’s failed to do in recent years — win the games that matter.
The five teams who beat Bountiful last year combined for an overall record of 60-6, including Logan twice.
Its eight wins? The competition tallied just a 32-49 record. Only two of the wins in 2011 were against teams with winning marks (Highland and Olympus).
“We need to get back and be more competitive and have a little better result,” Wall said in reference to games against elite programs.
The Braves will embark through nearly a mirror image schedule of 2011. Strangely, all 10 games are in the exact order with only location changing.
With games against defending state champions Lone Peak and Logan in the first three weeks of the season — both at home — along with 4A runner-up East hovering toward the tail-end, Bountiful will have the opportunity to prove itself worthy once again.
“That’s all on design. We want to play the best football teams we can and especially early. Then you know what you’ve got and where you’re a little deficient,” Wall said. “So, right off the bat we play the defending state champs — two of them our first three games of the year. That’s all just part of the experience.”
Bountiful Braves at a glance
Coach: Larry Wall began coaching at Bountiful when Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was the No. 1 song in the nation. That was in 1985. He has a career record of 209-99 — all with the Braves. He’s a graduate of Viewmont High.