Jeffrey D. Allred
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Note: Spanish Fork finished with a 9-4 overall record and was second in Region 12 with a 4-1 record in 2011. It beat Morgan and Juan Diego in the playoffs before losing to Hurricane, 38-35, in the 3A semifinals.
Between his playing days at Provo High, Stanford and then seven years in the NFL, the former offensive lineman said he never paid much attention to what happened in 7-on-7 games. He joked they were like playing football in pajamas.
His specialty is in the trenches — when the linemen put their fingers in the ground. His vast football knowledge with arguably the most important aspects of the game will make one of the best teams in 3A that much better.
Spanish Fork advanced to the 3A semifinals last year by stunning three-time state champion Juan Diego in the quarterfinals. At Rice-Eccles Stadium the following week, it went toe to toe with eventual 3A state champion Hurricane before losing 38-35.
From what he’s seen since being hired in late April, Chambers said the expectations shouldn’t be any different in 2012.
“It’s a learning process that I’m going through, but we’ve got great leadership to help us and we’ve got a lot of pieces in place that (former coach) Matt Christensen put in there with his coaching staff,” said Chambers. “We’re trying to position ourselves to make a run.”
With several returning starters, a strong senior class and quality options at quarterback, the pieces are there from a personnel standpoint as well to make a run.
Chambers said he only expects to make a few offensive and defensive tweaks.
For the most part, he has no intention of messing with an offense that featured a 2,800-yard passer and a 1,500-yard rusher last season. Chambers said he only plans on making minor improvements where necessary to the blocking schemes of offensive coordinator Brandon Condie, but that’s about it.
“I’ll put in my influence on the running game 'cause that’s what I understand and how we protect. But as far as what we’ve done in the past we’re trying to keep as many pieces in place as we can,” said Chambers.
With the graduation of three-year starting quarterback Hayden Nielsen, Spanish Fork has a major hole to fill in the spread offense. Chambers isn’t looking forward to picking Nielsen’s replacement either. He spent his whole career blocking for whoever the coach put behind him, but suddenly he’s in the unenviable spot of picking the guy.
“Two really good-looking quarterbacks. It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem to have 'cause they both really want it. Unfortunately there’s one spot for a quarterback out there,” said Chambers.
Defensively, one of Spanish Fork’s biggest challenges will be shoring up the defensive line. He’s counting on new defensive coordinator Kevin Nicoll to make that happen.
Nickle was an assistant at Olympus last season but wanted to move his family down to Utah County. Spanish Fork principal Dave McKee set up a meeting between the two coaches, and Chambers knew right away Nicoll was the guy he wanted to lead his inaugural defense.