High school football: Bonneville Lakers 2012 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 11 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

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Note: Bonneville High finished with a 5-5 overall record and was fifth in Region 5 with a 1-4 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.

WASHINGTON TERRACE — Tyler Gladwell has come up with a great way to help get Bonneville High's football program back where it belongs.

The Lakers' first-year head coach, who starred at Bonneville in the mid-1990s, has surrounded himself with a coaching staff that is brimming with other former Laker players who care deeply about the program's success.

Every one of them played for Laker legend Thom Budge, who guided Bonneville's football fortunes to 239 victories in a brilliant coaching career spanning more than three decades (1975-2005) before he retired.

The beloved Budge, whose Bonneville teams won 14 region titles and the 1980 state championship, died of a heart attack in September 2009.

"One really good thing that we have going right now with our coaching staff is everybody is a Laker, and we all played for coach Budge," said Gladwell, who was a star quarterback and graduated from Bonneville in 1996, then played at Weber State from 1998-2001. "They're guys who teach here now, and if they're not teaching here now, they all played here.

"That was one of my goals when I was going through the hiring process. I wanted guys who wanted this program to be successful, guys who had a sincere desire for this program to be successful and for the kids here to be good football players. It was important for me to get guys like that, and I thought, 'Hey, the guys who are going to be like that are guys who played here and have pride in the school and have pride in the football program.

"I think the kids really enjoy that," he said. "It's cool because we're all Lakers and we're all back here to help the program become successful and help the kids be successful, and that's something that's really been well received by the kids and the community."

It's not as if the Lakers' program is in a hopeless situation. Sure, they've certainly struggled at times — including three two-win seasons over the last eight years. But they also reached the 4A quarterfinals each year from 2007-09.

Bonneville went a very respectable 5-5 last year, but the Lakers have only had one winning season since 2004 — a far cry from the glory years when they were a perennial region title contender and state playoff participant.

Gladwell, in his first head coaching role after spending six seasons as an assistant at Davis High, wants a return of the good ol' days at his old stomping grounds — where the Lakers stomped on many opponents over the years.

"I had a lot of good experiences playing here," he said. "I had an opportunity to play a lot of different sports, and now I'm just hoping to come back and have a good experience as a coach, because I had one as a player, and help these players be successful here now.

"We're expecting a lot. We're putting some high expectations on our players and high expectations with the coaching staff. We have good athletes here, and all these kids want to win. They're all working hard and the biggest thing is trying to build some confidence and change the attitude here a little bit.