It’s the first time in five years that we have ones on defense going against ones on offense. We’re doing a little bit of the money dance around Ogden. —Head coach Kent Taylor

Note: Ogden finished with a 2-8 overall record in 2013 and was seventh in Region 5 with an 0-6 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.

OGDEN — The outlook for the Ogden Tigers football team is much brighter simply because the number of players on the team nearly doubled.

Last year the school competed in one of the state’s toughest football regions with just 37 players in the program.

“This year we’re ecstatic to have almost 60,” said second-year coach Kent Taylor. “It’s the first time in five years that we have ones on defense going against ones on offense. We’re doing a little bit of the money dance around Ogden.”

The demographics of the school make fielding the numbers required for a successful football team incredibly challenging.

“We have about 65 percent of our kids on free and reduced lunch, and a lot of families rely on their kids to work,” Taylor said. “It’s an uphill battle we’ve been fighting.”

Last year’s biggest challenge wasn’t necessarily the opponents the Tigers faced on Friday nights. It was how to keep a team of healthy players on the field.

“Most of our guys had to go both ways last year,” he said. “That was a really hard challenge to overcome.”

One way to lure students into the program is by having success. Studies show teenagers who participate in extracurricular activities have a litany of positive benefits, including higher graduation rates. Taylor said the coaching staff has worked hard with the students who have participated to make the program successful so others want to be a part of it.

“Obviously, we have to get into a winning situation because people want to be part of a winning program,” Taylor said. “Just like colleges with winning programs can recruit the best kids. If we have success, people will want to support and be a part of the program.”

In addition to returning nearly a dozen varsity starters, Taylor said he tries to keep the players focused on working hard to improve rather than allowing them to dwell on difficulties.

Their goal this year is to be the spoiler. They want to surprise some teams and prove Ogden is an up-and-coming player in the prep football universe.

“That’s what we’re all hoping for this year,” Taylor said. “People will still have the same perception of Ogden as the bottom-dweller. We haven’t won a ton of games, but I told the kids, 'We cannot keep whining about why we shouldn’t be 4A. We are 4A and it’s time to go to work.' That’s the goal.”

That goal will be made easier with the return of some key players, starting with senior center Wolfgang Brandt.

“I’m really excited to have my center back,” Taylor said. “We lost him in the second game of the year last year to a (knee injury). It’s nice to have a big senior back who can anchor our line. And we’ll have a really good supporting cast around him, most had to play last year. So it will be nice to see what happens there.”

The team’s offense will be run by junior quarterback Cameron Mortensen. He earned the role last year when the team’s senior quarterback was injured.

“So he’s coming back with a ton of experience,” Taylor said. “And he’s looking really, really good this summer.”

Injuries may have forced some freshmen on the field last season, but that gives the Tigers a much more experienced group of young men this season.

“Our camp has been really good and we have some really talented sophomores who played as freshmen last year,” he said.

Senior running back Porter Smith returns and gives the offense versatility.

Mortensen should have some capable targets in senior wide receivers Parker Lowery and KJ Wilson, and there are even some plays for Smith. Those same players may see time on the defensive side of the ball, but there will be more players to share the workload.

“I really like where we’re at this year,” Taylor said. “I’m really excited to see what we have.”

Ogden Tigers at a glance

Coach: Kent Taylor begins his second year leading the Tigers, although he’s been a coach in the program for five years. The Payson High and University of Utah graduate owns a 2-8 head coaching record.

Offense

(11 returning starters)

All of Ogden’s starters return this season, and all of them played on both sides of the ball. They’ll be led by junior quarterback Cameron Mortensen, who proved a capable leader and emerging talent last year. Senior running back Porter Smith and senior wide receivers KJ Wilson and Parker Lowery are some of the names to watch this fall. Wolfgang Brandt, the team’s senior center, will anchor the line.

Defense

(11 returning starters)

Time — and matchups — may determine which players still see time on the defensive side of the ball. But those names with two positions to learn will be fewer as the Tigers look to include more of the 60 boys who showed up for camp this summer.

Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Seventh

Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Seventh

Bottom line: The Tigers have a lot of hard work ahead as they try to establish a successful program with some of the fewest numbers in 4A. Despite challenges, the program is growing, and with returning talent and higher expectations, look for the Tigers to pull off some upsets this season. They are a dangerous team because they have the athletes to compete. If they find the confidence and chemistry, it could be an exciting time to be an Ogden Tiger.

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Ogden coaching history

2013-current — Kent Taylor (2-8)

2010-2012 — Troy Kolan (8-23)

2008-2009 — Eric Eyre (11-10)

2006-2007 — Dennis Dalton (3-18)

2004-2005 — Ed Larson (2-17)

1998-2003 — John Filiaga (19-44)

1994-1997 — Steve Coburn (11-29)

1987-1993 — Ralph Parrish (22-44)

1979-1986 — Dave Brown (30-49)

1974-1978 — Eric Maughan (23-26)

1971-1973 — Virgil Savage (6-18-1)

1969-1970 — Ira Winger (5-10-1)

1965-1968 — Wilf Christensen (25-13)

1960-1964 — Norris Johansen (34-12-1)

1953-1959 — Chris Apostol (47-24-6)

1952 — Mel Wood (5-3-1)

1946-1951 — Cluff Snow (24-22-6)

1945 — Keith Waansgard (3-5-1)

1941-1944 — unknown (26-13-2)

1938-1940 — Gilbert Moesinger (19-6)

1930-1937 — Ernest Simpkins (35-20-3)

1923-1929 — unknown (19-22-1

1922 — Dixon Kapple (5-2)

1920-1921 — Carl. W. Peterson (6-9-1)

1915-1919 — unknown (13-11-4)

1913-1914 — Lon Romney (2-10)

1912 — unknown (2-5)

1910-1911 — Mr. Brown (10-6-1)

1903-1909 — unknown (17-18-5)

1902 — Mr. Thompson (1-5-1)

1898-1901 — unknown (7-9-1)

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