BOUNTIFUL — Winning just two football games in a season is the kind of wake-up call that’s hard to ignore.
So as soon as the Viewmont Vikings' football season ended last year, both players and coaches were determined to make significant changes.
“We didn’t change our foundational things, how we treat the kids or what we expect of the kids,” said Viewmont head coach Brad Lloyd.
But they did make changes to the coaching staff, mostly additions, and to their offseason strength and conditioning program. They even participated in the summer’s 7-on-7 tournaments, something Lloyd had mixed feelings about.
“We tweaked some things,” he said smiling. “I’ve never been a big 7-on-7 guy, but we had a good experience with that.”
The one thing that might make the most significant difference on the field this fall, however, isn’t anything the coaches did. It’s the commitment and leadership of the players.
“We’ve been extremely, extremely consistent,” Lloyd said. “We formed a leadership council, and they’ve really taken it and run with it.”
The players said the difference will be evident in the way the team plays.
“We’re a whole different team,” said senior defensive tackle Will Daines. “We’ve done a lot more work in the offseason, and we’re more prepared this season. People are going to be shocked at how much we’ve changed.”
Riley Rohloff, a senior running back, said it isn’t just the team’s returning starters or seniors who are determined to make the program relevant this season.
“I expect great things from all of the guys, “ said Rohloff. “Not just the guys who start, but everyone — sophomores, freshman, we expect competitive excellence from everyone.”
Rohloff missed most of last year due to an injury and said that gives him an even greater appreciation of what it will take to be competitive this year.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff this year, and we’re getting better every single day,” he said.
Lloyd said the new coaches he brought in have already made an impact.
“I think overall this is the best coaching staff I’ve been on in the 31 years of coaching, with knowledge, with the expertise that these men have,” said Lloyd. “And it’s translating to these kids.”
Lloyd’s been impressed with the initiative and commitment his players have shown during offseason training and to each other. The Vikings have nine returning starters who will be seniors and seven returning starters who will be juniors. Injuries decimated the team last year, but this year, they will be more prepared for the inevitable injuries that come with football.
“That bodes well for us,” Lloyd said. “We have more depth, and I like where we are right now. We’re so much more together as a team.”
Lloyd hasn’t named many starters, and he really doesn’t even want to talk about who might be standouts on the squad. Instead, they’re borrowing a page from legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne.
“We’d like to have three starters in each position,” he said. “That’s the mentality we want. We want to be fresher in the fourth quarter, and many of our kids go both ways. We have enough depth and talent that we can do that. In many spots we have three, some spots two, but we’re still developing them.”