2013 high school football preview: American Fork Cavemen have a new attitude this season
Note: American Fork finished with a 3-7 overall record in 2012 and was fifth in Region 4 with a 1-4 record. It did not qualify for the 5A playoffs.
AMERICAN FORK — Making headway in a traditionally brutal Region 4 isn’t easy, but American Fork believes it has the goods to deliver this season.
Armed with solid returning talent at key positions, some of the best playmakers in the state, and a new attitude, the Cavemen believe they can make a run at the 5A playoffs.
“We like our chances this year and we’re excited about this team’s potential,” said head coach Aaron Behm. “The kids have been working hard after a tough season last year and that’s what you ask for as a coach.”
Behm has fielded tough teams in each of his three years as American Fork's head coach, but has yet to make a deep run in the playoffs. His best chance came in 2011 when his team went 5-5 but lost in the first round.
Last season the Cavemen slugged their way to a 3-7 record and only one win in region.
“We certainly need to play better in region and we need to be better prepared for region play because it doesn’t get any tougher than Region 4,” Behm said. “We’ve beefed up our nonregion schedule and think that will help us prepare for the great teams in our region.”
American Fork’s nonregion schedule includes games against Brighton and 4A powerhouses Orem and Mountain Crest before topping off the season with a rare out-of-region game against Wasatch.
Region 4 was shaken up a bit, but still includes teams like Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove and Riverton, among others. American Fork will no longer have to contend with bully Bingham, but that doesn’t make Region 4 any easier from Behm’s point of view.
“Herriman has done some great things, so they’ll be tough there. Pleasant Grove is going to be improved. And coach (Mike) Mower is someone who is going to have Lone Peak playing tough,” Behm said. “Lehi is going to be tough and so is Riverton. There won’t be any easy games in our region, that’s for sure.”
Fortunately, the Cavemen enter the season with a lot of returning experience at key positions to take on such a schedule.
“We have eight or nine guys on offense who played a lot for us last year, so that should allow us to do good things on that side of the ball,” Behm said. “We don’t have as many guys returning on defense, but we have enough guys there that we should be OK.”
The offense is led by quarterback Jacen Condie, who is small in stature (5 foot 8) but long on accuracy and leadership.
“He gets the ball where it needs to be,” Behm said. “He’s a very smart player and someone the team looks up to and depends on.”
Zach Katoa returns at running back and will team with Riley Smith to provide a productive running attack. Both players will be fronted by an offensive line that is led by James Empey, Mason Price and Kurtis Anderson, all starters from last season.
The real strength of the offense may be on the outside, where receivers Jonah Trinnaman and Jade Luker lead the charge. Both players will team with tight end Nate Heaps to form one of the best sets of receivers in the state.
“We really have some good playmakers and we’re focused on getting them the football,” Behm said. “Jonah and Jade did good things for us last year, but I think Nate Heaps has really improved in the offseason and we’re going to run a lot more plays for him this year.”
On defense the team will rely on nose tackle Mason Price and Smith, who will play inside linebacker.