WASHINGTON TERRACE — Do things the right way, be patient, don't panic, and enjoy the ride — bumps and all.
Do that, and someday gridiron glory will again be yours.
That's the dream that Bonneville High's first-year head football coach, Jantz Afuvai, has for the Lakers' proud program, which was a perennial region title contender and state playoff participant for nearly four decades before things started going south about eight years ago.
Afuvai, a former Bonneville High standout who went on to have a stellar collegiate career as a linebacker at nearby Weber State University, becomes the Lakers' fourth head coach in the last four years.
That's certainly not a recipe for success and makes it impossible to have any semblance of continuity in the program. But Afuvai is in it for the long haul and refuses to be frustrated if the turnaround does not happen overnight.
"For me, the biggest thing was trust because of what's happened here," he said. "These guys have been shellshocked, and they've heard the same spiel for the last two head coaches, so they're skeptical.
"My biggest thing was, 'I'm gonna show you. I'm not gonna tell you; I'm gonna show you.' And I hope that I've made an impact that way. Football is football. There's really only one way to do it — you've got to put your nose down; you've gotta grind; you've gotta get to work. The values of football are not going to change. So I'm really excited to be able to give back because this (program) really shaped who I am today.
"As soon as I got this job," Afuvai said, "I started seeing such a big impact that a head coach has on his program and that's reflected on his kids. And the kids know right away whether you're invested or not, whether you're committed. I've got a lot of kids looking up to me to lead, and I'd better get it right."
And while he'd love to see the Lakers quickly return to those glorious days when they were piling up victory after victory under their venerable coach, Thom Budge, who won 237 games before his retirement in 2005 and his untimely death in 2009, Afuvai realizes that it might take awhile to turn things around.
And he's more than willing to work his very hardest at it — and wait patiently for good things to happen.
"I'm focused on the process. I'm not focused on the end result or the win column," he said. "Over the years, I've learned to enjoy the ride — enjoy the adversity that comes with this game, the true life lessons you learn. No matter how many times you get knocked down, it doesn't matter how many times. You've got to get back up and reload and refocus.
"The beauty of football, which is unique to any other team sport, is that 11 guys have to commit to one another every single play. And then you have to reset and do that over and over again, so there's a lot of moving parts and everybody has to do his job. If one guy doesn't do his job, then the play's not going to be successful.
"Being able to teach that concept to these kids has been the most rewarding experience of my life," Afuvai said.
He previously spent seven seasons here as an assistant coach, first under Budge and then for Matt Williams, and he spent the past two years coaching at Ogden High.
In his first head coaching job, he's got some kids in the program who are difference-makers and will do their darnedest to help the Lakers return to their more customary winning ways they enjoyed for four decades.
At quarterback, senior Kysen Hall will get the call.
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