High school football: Westlake Thunder 2013 preview

Published: Monday, Aug. 12 2013 11:15 p.m. MDT

James Edward

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The past few months have been a whirlwind for new Westlake coach Steve Clements.

Since arriving from his home state of Texas, the former BYU quarterback and state champion coach has been working feverishly at his new gig after being out of coaching for five years.

“I’ve only been here since June 3, so it’s been sort of crazy and a lot of work,” Clements said. “You have all the administrative stuff and then you have to put in a new system. It’s just been a ton of work, but I’m happy to be back, believe me.”

Clements is well-seasoned within the Utah prep coaching ranks, having previously been at Lehi for four years. He led the Pioneers to a 3A state championship in 2000 before moving back to Texas to be an assistant high school coach for a couple of years before focusing on private endeavors and teaching.

“It’s been awesome just being a dad, being able to get home at a decent hour for the last five years, but it was time to get back into the coaching business,” he said. “Coaching is in my blood, and I always knew we’d come back to Utah, so I determined now was the time and I’m back here at Westlake.”

Clements has done his best to create a new culture inside a Westlake program that struggled to a 4-6 record last season and lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs to Woods Cross. The team makes the leap to 5A in 2013 and will compete in ultra-competitive Region 4.

Clements sees great potential for his new program, despite the challenges.

“It’s probably not going to be a quick fix here — it almost for sure won’t be,” he said. “It takes some time to install a new system — I mean, I’ve only been here nine weeks. But I like the attitude of the kids and I certainly like the possibilities to do some great things here. I didn’t take this job immediately, that’s for sure, but after discussions and looking into it more I came to realize that we can do some great things here.”

As for this season, Clements inherits a largely inexperienced team that has just six returning starters. Fortunately, the group of returning starters includes quarterback Gavin Williams, who is expected to start again this season.

“You do what you can with the group you have, and I don’t know how good we’ll be this year. But I can assure you we’ll be competitive,” he said. “I’ve met with the team. I’ve been with them enough to know that these are great kids who are committed to work and to be as good as they possibly can be.”

As mentioned, the Thunder will have to compete in a tough Region 4 that includes powerhouse Lone Peak, a rising Pleasant Grove program and Herriman, which like Westlake makes the leap to 5A — just to name three.

“We’re in 5A, but we really don’t have 5A depth yet,” Clements said. “I don’t know too many 4A teams that could make the leap to 5A and still have the type of depth to truly contend their first year — probably Timpview, and a few others, but we’re certainly not there with our depth yet. We’ll get there though.”

Clements' ultimate goal is to develop great citizens and fathers in the community.

“I want to teach these kids, through football, that they can be great successes in life,” he said. “I’ve always been around football since I was young and I love the game. I believe the game can serve as a great benefit to everyone involved. That’s the big goal here. I plan on being here for a while and I’m thrilled about the opportunity I have here.”

Westlake Thunder at a glance