OREM — Timpanogos was cruising along last season before it hit a wall.
A rash of injuries at key positions resulted in the Timberwolves finishing on a low note after starting the season 5-0. The team finished region play with a 47-14 loss to Orem and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Mountain Crest (35-6).
It is a problem many 4A teams face when they don’t have the depth needed to overcome injuries to key players.
“We just started to lose guys everywhere, it seemed,” said coach Ed Larson. “We’re not like a 5A school that has a ton of depth. We started losing both your top running backs, two of your linebackers, your safety — heck, we even lost both our kickers. It just went bad for us at the wrong time.”
This year Larson is looking for greater depth, but he will be working with a largely inexperienced group of players.
“We’re going to be really young and we don’t have many returning starters on defense or on offense, so we have a lot of growth ahead of us,” Larson said. “It’s going to be a big challenge, but we have some promising players who are doing their best to become productive players for us.”
The good news is the team is out of the gate confident, and focused. Larson noted a concerted effort from his team during the first practice sessions.
“I was very pleased with the focus, the dedication they all showed in the offseason, and it’s those things that make a great football team,” he said. “I think a lot of these young guys understand they have an opportunity to play and play a big role, so that’s motivating them and it should motivate them.”
The cupboard isn’t completely bare of returning talent, however. The team returns some good talent, particularly along its defensive front.
Defensive end Austin Seegmiller will lead the defensive front and the entire defense.
"Austin is a terrific athlete who we'll also use at tight end," Larson said. "He's the one guy teams are aware of and know they'll have to prepare for. He's athletic enough that he could even play linebacker for us, but we hope we can keep him at defensive end."
Filo Tuavao will be the team's primary defensive tackle, a position Larson believes will be a strength.
"We're young and thin at linebacker, but we should have a solid defensive line which should help them," he said. "We have a couple of guys on offense that we'll rely on at defensive back — Trayce Esteban and Jackson Dunford — so we feel good about that position."
Dunford will likely be the starter at quarterback with Esteban expected to be his primary receiver.
"Jackson is a terrific athlete who we'll be asking a lot of this year," Larson said. "He's one guy we can't afford to lose because of what he gives us at quarterback and at defensive back. Then you have Trayce, who I believe is set to have a big year."
Larson is optimistic about the season despite the massive rebuilding he'll have to do on both sides of the ball.
"It's a tough region with some tough new teams like Skyline and Olympus, but we're feeling good," he said. "Like I said, they're practicing well, they're focused, but you never really know what you have until that first game. I'm anxious for it and I believe, that if we get off to a quick start, that we could do some good things this year."
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