We feel we're going to have lines on either side of the ball that can prove to be as big and as physical as any in our region. —American Leadership coach Nate Porter
Note: American Leadership finished with a 4-6 overall record in 2016 and was fifth in 2A North with a 1-4 record. It lost to South Sevier 40-7 in 2A first round.
SPANISH FORK — The Eagles have been able to start seasons strong, here of late, only to end those same years with a bit of a thud. A lot of that could be chalked up to depth, or lack thereof, and it's something first-year head coach Nate Porter feels is much better this time around.
Porter has been coaching at ALA for eight years and has become aware of what has ailed the program most years. To that awareness, he's gone about to fix the traditional problems.
"We have better numbers and we've changed the offense and defense to better fit what we feel we can do well," Porter said. "We feel we're going to have lines on either side of the ball that can prove to be as big and as physical as any in our region."
Porter also knows taking on 2A North competition isn't a picnic, in any given year.
"South Summit is always stacked and they've been good for a lot of years and we know Delta has a really big line, and that will be a challenge for us," Porter said. "The key will be to keep it going heading into region play, because that's the time of the year when we always seem to fold, for whatever reason."
Porter believes this year's team has what it takes to play better in region.
"We're on the verge," Porter said. "I'm not hoping for miracles, a state championship — we just want to start with a winning season. We have nine games to get it done, and if we get that fifth win, then that's progress. Obviously we'd love to do better than that, and we think we can, but right now a winning season is our focus."
American Leadership Eagles at a glance
Coach: Nate Porter is in his first year as head coach. He's coached as an assistant at ALA over the last eight seasons.
American Leadership Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Kyle Purvis
2016 offensive production: 21.8 ppg (7th in 2A)
-- 5 returning starters
Key offensive returning starters
-- Owen Huff (RB)
Huff rushed for 1,031 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per run.
"He's the strength of our offense," said coach Nate Porter. "He's a downhill runner and he's a great leader. We'll rely heavily on him this year and we think he can even improve upon the numbers he put up last year."
-- Porter on the offensive line
"We finally have some good size up front here. Our offensive line averages about 240 pounds or 245, so that's good size for a team at the 2A level. We believe we'll be able to take it right at some teams running the ball."
Returning offensive starters
Owen Huff (RB)
Jackson Shockley (TE)
Brett Staheli (RB)
Trey Twitchell (OL)
Jacob Negus (TE)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Ethan Morley (QB)
Fielding Morley (RB)
Porter's comments on Owen Huff (QB):
"He hasn't played football since the eighth grade because of some back problems, but he's back and we think he's going to be real good for us. He's an athlete and really fast. He's a rodeo kid, so playing football isn't a big thing for him. He's not afraid of anything."
Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:
Porter believes he can play with an offensive line which won't have to rotate to the defensive side, which will be big for the Eagles. Of course, injuries will dictate a lot, with regards to playing linemen exclusively on either side of the ball, given any 2A program's diminished numbers.
American Leadership Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Doug Vincent
2016 defensive production: 25.8 ppg (6th in 2A)
— 6 returning starters
— 4-man front
Returning defensive starters
Holland Morley (DL)
Owen Huff (LB)
Jackson Shockley (LB/DB)
Brett Staheli (DB)
Jacob Negus (DL)
Chandler Hone (DB)
Porter's comments on the defense:
“We'll rely heavily on our front, where we have Holland Morley, who is a 305-pound defensive tackle. He's a real powerful kid and we have some other guys with good size. We average about 260 (pounds) across our defensive line, so we think that will be a big thing for us."
Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:
The same thing holds true for the defense as the offense. Should the team remain relatively healthy, then ALA's defensive front should prove able to push back a lot of 2A opposing offensive units.
Coaches preseason 2A North straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News 2A North prediction: Sixth
Key Region Game: vs South Summit (Sept. 15)
Bottom line: The Eagles believe they have the lines to compete this year, but will still be hard-pressed to take on top region programs, such as South Summit and Delta. Should the linemen on both sides stay healthy, then the Eagles could certainly make some noise and possibly earn a spot in the postseason, something the program has been on the cusp of in recent years.
Aug. 18 — DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Grand, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — at Millard, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — at North Summit, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — DELTA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 — 2A PLAYOFFS, TBD
Felt’s Facts for American Leadership Academy
All-time record: 22-86 (11 years)
Region championships: 0
Playoff appearances: 7
Current playoff appearance streak: 2
All-time playoff record: (0-7)
State championships: 0
State championship record: (0-0)
Most played rivalry: Seven meetings with Manti dating back to 2006. Manti leads 7-0. Last met in 2012.
Felt’s Factoid(s): ALA is one of six private schools that compete in football. ... Eagle Jordan Lamb is one of just 16 prep gridders in Utah to return an interception 100 yards (2011).
2016 — 4-6 (1-4 in 2A North – 2A First round)
2015 — 4-6 (1-4 in 2A North – 2A First round)
2014 — 1-8 (0-6 in 2A North -- Missed playoffs)
2013 — 3-7 (1-5 in 2A North -- Missed playoffs)
2012 — 2-7 (1-6 in 2A North -- Missed playoffs)
American Leadership coaching history
2017-current — Nate Porter (0-0)
2014-2016 — Billy Nixon (9-20)
2013 – Chase Ryan (3-7)
2012 — Bobby Kauo (2-7)
2009-2011 — David Lewis (6-25)
2007-2008 — Tom Fell (1-19)
2006 — Ron Olsen (1-8)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.