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Note: Olympus finished with a 9-2 overall record and a 5-0 record in Region 7 in 2011. It lost, 34-14, to Bountiful in the 4A Quarterfinals.
SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t as grueling as the "Junction Boys." No, the revered Paul “Bear” Bryant wasn’t torturing players during the summer months in Texas — issuing bus passes to those who couldn’t survive.
But Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead wanted to figure out the mental capacity of his players. After a successful season and an undefeated Region 7 championship last year, Whitehead and his coaching staff weren’t sure what they had been dealt going into this year.
After all, Olympus has suffered from graduation perhaps more than any other program in the state.
Don’t believe it? Of the 3,762 yards Olympus gained from scrimmage in 2011, the Titans lost 3,602 yards of production. Therefore, with only three combined returning starters on both sides of the ball, Whitehead submerged the team face first in endless sprints and bear crawls.
“As a coaching staff we felt that we needed to test them and push them a little bit more than in years past,” Whitehead said, reiterating the constant supply of water for players to avoid dehydration during the intense heat. “We just ran and ran and ran to the point that there were a couple of guys that were praying to the garbage cans. But not one person stopped — they kept it going.
“That’s not our style, but I just wanted to test their mental toughness and at the end they were running their hardest,” he continued. “I was looking at the other coaches and everyone just had these giant smiles on their faces knowing the mentality of this group.”
Exhaustion has a strange way to form bonds. As the conditioning commenced a unity was formed within an inexperienced group.
“The potential is there. At the beginning of the offseason (we) were extremely raw,” Whitehead explained. “You could see the inexperience, but as the spring and summer have progressed I’ve been extremely pleased to the level of commitment and discipline these guys have put together.”
Whitehead attributed the work ethic to the previous class and the standards they set. They are the first draft of the blueprints the program is hoping to build.
“We’re getting to where we want to be. Our vision is to build a championship program where it’s the norm to be a region champion and be up on the 'Turf,'” Whitehead said. “We’re not quite there but everything we do goes towards that.”
There are expected growing pains this season, but Olympus is hoping to surpass last season’s accomplishments with a deeper postseason run.
“I truly believe that if you don’t have (championship aspirations) as a goal, you sell the kids short. I know that’s what (Skyline) coach (Steve) Marlowe said the other day,” Whitehead said. “Every game we go into we expect to win. If we don’t we won’t win it. You never know — the run to the state title is a crazy thing.
"You never know what happens in November.”
Olympus Titans at a glance
Coach: This is Aaron Whitehead’s second season pacing the sidelines for Olympus after a 9-2 inaugural season. In seven years of coaching he’s garnished a career record of 48-23. After a stint at East High school, Whitehead earned valuable coaching experience as a graduate assistant at BYU. He’s a graduate of Skyline High.
(2 returning starters; Spread offense)
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