Note: Weber finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2013 and was fifth in Region 1 with a 2-4 record. It did not qualify for the 5A playoffs.
PLEASANT VIEW — You'd think that, after snapping a lengthy losing streak and going on to win more games last year than it had in the previous three seasons combined, Weber High's football program would be feeling pretty darned pleased and proud these days.
And if you think that, you'd be mistaken.
Oh, sure, the Warriors were glad to get that King Kong-sized monkey off their backs last season, when they shed a 23-game losing streak that stretched back to 2010. And putting together a final 5-5 record was certainly a welcome sight in 2013, especially following back-to-back winless seasons.
But the Warriors and their intense second-year head coach, Matt Hammer, are far from content.
"You get done with it and you look back at a couple of those games and you're just like, man, you have a chance to have a winning record and be a playoff team, which is the ultimate, consistent goal around here is to play in November or that last weekend in October," Hammer said.
"But it's almost like I'm walking on the cliff, though. It's like is that all we've changed and this is the best that they could've done here, rather than no, that (5-5 record) should be the very, very average of what we do here and we've got to build off that. So I think it's actually been harder now this year because I know we've got more in us. We've got to go win seven or eight games, if not more.
"I think it was easier last year because I thought there was enough talent here to go win some football games," he said. "But now it's hey, we want to be a winning team year in and year out, so it's actually been harder that way. I think it's been good, but it's more of a challenge. I don't think there's any reason why we cannot do that if we do things right."
The Warriors started last season by winning four of the first five games, only to lose four of their last five to see a possible state playoff berth slip away.
Coach Hammer says that last year's learning experience helped this year's returnees take notice of what it takes to be a strong, competitive team. And now it's time to use those lessons and try and take the program to the next level.
"The commitment from the kids is there and the light's going on in their heads," he said. "It's going on and they're understanding it. I'm excited for two or three years from now when all those kids in the little league that we've been giving back to start coming through and doing our offseason speed training and all that stuff all the way through and see that whole progression.
" ... Now you're gonna start seeing that as it grows. But what is it gonna look like two, three, four years from now, to see that whole picture?"
"With this senior class, they understand," Hammer said. "It's changed the mentality around here but now it's like, hey, there's a lot that goes into it. The consistency and the accountability of these kids on a daily basis, it's not 'August 1st, show up and now it's football time.' The good teams do it year-around. ... And we've got some kids that can lead us, so it's good."
One of those leaders is senior quarterback Cole Dean, a returning starter who threw for 1,871 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
"He's a great leader and, when he's on the football field, he's really, really good," Hammer said. "He's got to understand that playing that position, everybody looks at that kid and he probably gets treated differently, unfairly sometimes, but at the same time, that comes with it. And the better you are, the more people are gonna try to be out to get you. That's just the way sports goes."