High school football: Lone Peak Knights 2014 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 16 2014 11:15 p.m. MDT

Lone Peak preview

Note: Lone Peak finished with an 8-5 overall record in 2013 and tied for first in Region 4 with a 4-2 record. It lost to Bingham 48-13 in the 5A semifinals.

HIGHLAND — You’d think things would be easier for Lone Peak coach Mike Mower in his second year as head coach, but you'd better think again. With the cupboard almost completely bare of returning starters from a year ago, Mower’s work is cut out for him.

The Knights return just one part-time starter on both sides of the ball, which is something that could devastate some smaller, less-established programs.

“I’d obviously love having more returning experience, but you take what you have,” Mower said. “It’s not an easy deal having just one year under your belt running things and then come back the next year with almost every starter from last year gone. You deal with it and I believe we’ll be fine.”

Benefiting Mower’s team this season is a good, established system that sees many quality players join the varsity team most years.

Through workouts and into practice sessions, coaches have become impressed with a young and talented group of players ready to take lead roles.

“We’re not panicking by any means,” Mower said. “Like I said, it’s a challenging deal, but we’re excited for the challenge and we’re excited about the potential of these kids. We’re confident we can put things together and get some wins.”

Putting together wins won't come easy in a typically tough Region 4, but players believe they can get it done.

"We have a lot to live up to at Lone Peak, and I think we have some guys that will surprise people," said senior running back Parker Richards. "I think we're going to contend again this year and the state championship is always the goal here."

Richards is expected to start at running back along with Cameron Ure. Talmage Gunther has the tough task of replacing Baron Gajkowski at quarterback, but players feel he's up to the task.

"Talmage can run, he can throw, and we think he's going to be very good," Richards said.

Other quarterbacks who may be in the mix include junior Justin Miller and sophomore Dakota Hansen, the younger brother of former quarterback Chase Hansen.

At tight end David Flake returns as the team's only starter from a year ago.

Other expected standouts include running back Jackson McChesney, along with receivers Jonny Christensen, Logan Reese and Caden Humphrey, among others.

"We always seem to get good playmakers here at the skill positions and I think we'll have that again," Mower said. "These kids are committed to working hard and they're talented. They're young, and a little inexperienced, but I think they're all going to step up and play well."

On the defensive side, it's largely the same story with no returning starters and a lot of young players ready to step up.

"I think we have the potential to be real good on our defensive line," Mower said. "It's going to be tough, just like it is over on the offense with the inexperience, but I think we'll be OK."

Lone Peak Knights at a glance

Coach: Mike Mower is in his second season as head coach after leading Lone Peak to an 8-5 season a year ago. He previously worked as an assistant at both Lone Peak and American Fork.

Offense (1 returning starter; Spread offense)

Lone Peak is fond of passing the football, but look for the team to employ more rushing this season.