Note: Altamont finished with a 3-8 overall record in 2013 and was third in 1A North with a 1-2 record. It lost to Diamond Ranch 48-19 in the 1A quarterfinals.
In the eyes of head coach Anthony Wilcox, the success of the Altamont Longhorns this year will hinge on how mentally engaged his players are from week to week.
A season ago, Altamont got off to a 3-2 start before it lost its final six contests. With much of his team set to return in 2014, Wilcox feels the Longhorns have the talent to stay out of the 1A North cellar, the spot they were predicted to finish by 1A coaches.
“It got kind of frustrating because I thought our kids had the talent to be more competitive than they were, but they just weren’t,” Wilcox said of the 2013 campaign. “It’s more of a mental thing, getting mentally prepared to be able to handle a football game. Physically I don’t think it was an issue. If you don’t have your mental behind you, then it doesn’t matter how physically gifted you are.”
While Wilcox feels confident about the talent on his team, how successful Altamont will be on the offensive side of the ball is somewhat in question. Quarterback Dylan Lindsay graduated, and replacing him will be the Longhorns’ most productive running back from a season ago, Rylee Foy.
The senior has never played quarterback, though he did complete one pass last season for 25 yards.
“He’s never played (quarterback) before, so obviously his mechanics are gonna be fairly rusty and we expect that, so we’ll just adjust to what he does well, which is that he’s a really good running back,” Wilcox said. “He can throw the ball, so we’ll still throw the ball, but we’ll do a lot of stuff almost like we have an extra blocker because our best running back is the quarterback.”
Though it stands to reason Altamont may struggle in the passing game, the Longhorns are looking to have success on the ground. While a spread offense is often employed to execute an effective air attack, Wilcox is looking to do it so the middle is opened up to rush the ball.
In addition to Foy, Altamont will use a platoon of running backs. The Longhorns will welcome back Slaton Thompson, who missed the entire 2013 campaign after getting injured in the opening game of the season, while senior Brady Farnsworth is looking to finish out his prep career strong.
“We’ll still run up the middle, but we’ll do it by spreading people out and then trying to run it up the middle,” Wilcox said. “You have to be able to run up the middle in order to be successful, but we will spread people out and then do it.”
Helping the rushing attack will be perhaps the strongest unit of the team, the offensive line. Returners Westley Thompson, Dainen Parry and McCoy Pace will anchor the unit.
“I have all the confidence in the world in those three,” Wilcox said. “I think they’re all three quality offensive linemen.”
On defense, Altamont will be returning a large portion of the guys that surrendered nearly 35 points per game a season ago. Wilcox said many of the problems on that side of the ball came as a result of players being timid and not aggressive at the point of attack. He is hoping experience will be the biggest factor in improving and is cautiously optimistic.
“I’m hoping it will transition, but if I had a crystal ball and could understand the mind of teenage boys, I’d sell a lot of books,” he said.
In totality, Wilcox is looking for an attitude shift within the Altamont program in his second year at the helm. Over the past decade, he feels confidence has been lacking when it comes to believing the Longhorns can compete with the likes of Duchesne and Rich, but he is hoping that will change in 2014.
“That’s the struggle we’re facing now,” Wilcox said, “just trying to get our kids to buy into the program and realize they can compete with these other schools they haven’t been successful against for 10 years.”
Altamont Longhorns at a glance
Coach: Anthony Wilcox is entering his second season at the helm, having compiled a 3-8 record in 2013.
(8 returning starters; spread offense)
Senior Rylee Foy has made a name for himself as a running back, but will be switching to quarterback in 2014. In truth, Foy's ability to throw may just be icing on the cake for a unit that ought to have success running the ball. Joining Foy in the backfield will be Brady Farnsworth and Slaton Thompson. The latter was injured in the first game of 2013 and missed the rest of the season. A strong, experienced offensive line led by Westley Thompson, Dainen Parry and McCoy Pace will also help the run game.
(8 returning starters)
Altamont will be experienced on this side of the ball, and will be looking to surrender fewer than the 34.9 points per game it gave up in 2013. Parry will anchor the defensive line and Pace will lead the linebacking corps. The big question will be the secondary, as Wilcox will be relying primarily on freshmen and sophomores to hold down the fort in the defensive backfield.
Coaches preseason Region 1A North straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News Region 1A North prediction: Fourth
Bottom line: If Foy can keep defenses honest with his arm, the Longhorns should be able to run the ball effectively enough to put points on the board. However, they need to improve defensively from last season to produce more victories.
Altamont coaching history
2013-current — Anthony Wilcox (3-8)
2009-2012 — Mick Fieldstead (20-24)
2006-2008 — Daniel Zabriskie (3-26)
1998-2005 — Mark Barnum (35-44)
1996-1997 — Robert Marshall (7-12)
1995 — Darrin Jensen (3-8)
1991-1994 — Robert Marshall (25-15)
1986-1990 — Dave Peck (14-33)
1982-1985 — Frank Hill (5-31)
1980-1981 — Kim Petersen (1-14)
1977-1979 — Jack Barton (14-13)
1974-1976 — Bill Manzanares (15-12)
1972-1973 — Rod Jorgensen (Unknown)
1949 — Glenn Allred (0-6)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2013 — Rylee Foy, RB/LB
2013 — Randy Sorensen, WR/DB
2012 — Kyle Foy, RB/LB
2012 — Denver Knight, OL/DL
2012 — Cassidy Smith, OL/DL
2011 — Kyle Foy, FB/LB
2010 — Zaquri Brinkerhoff, OL/LB
2010 — Dalton Smith, OL/DL
2009 — Zach Hatch, RB/LB
2009 — Waylon Thompson, RB/LB
2007 — Kyle Pugh, OL/DL
2005 — Matt Kolford, RB/DL
2004 — Gavin Lindsay, QB
2004 — Nathan Wilcox, LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Ryan McDonald is a writer and editor at the Deseret News. He previously worked as the sports editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle, the campus newspaper at the University of Utah.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company