PROVO They've been called things like the Utah County All-Stars, BYU Jr. or even the University of Timpview.
And, no, those aren't exactly terms of affection for Timpview's football program.
With the Thunderbirds' recent domination and recruiting allegations, the defending 4A champions have become a football team people love to hate. In Utah County, they're the New England Patriots, the New York Yankees, the new Skyline Eagles.
"We've been hearing that all year," said Timpview linebacker Kevin Bills. "Whenever any team not just Timpview whenever anybody does something good, it seems like someone's trying to take them down."
As such, Timpview players and coaches are aware that many football fans will be rooting against them/for the underdogs from Pine View when the schools clash Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"They try to bring us down, but it just makes us more motivated to come out and play as hard as we can every game," said Timpview linebacker Dominique Moe. "We're used to not having everyone like us, but it's all right, though."
Most of the talk is done behind the T-Birds' backs or on high school sports blogs. Coach Louis Wong, a former BYU lineman who's about as massive as the mountains towering over Timpview, says people don't directly confront him about his rumored player-acquiring tactics. And he'll only listen to those who "tell me what they think" face-to-face.
"If they have enough courage to do that, then great I'll address it," Wong said. "Everything else is hearsay. I don't pay attention to it."
To some extent, Wong understands when students from rival schools talk trash. But, he added, if there are "adults who may be saying things like that then maybe they need to grow up."
If anybody can empathize with the T-Birds' situation, it's Roger DuPaix of Skyline. While winning eight state titles and becoming the winningest coach in Utah history, he's been the target of two decades worth of recruiting rumors and bitter remarks.
"It takes away some of the fun," DuPaix said. "We get criticized and we just kind of take it in stride."
DuPaix jokingly offered a simple solution for Timpview, which has won 22 games in a row.
"We haven't heard much criticism the last couple of years because we haven't won the state championship," said a laughing DuPaix, who last won in 2005 to snap a five-year title drought. "That's one way to get rid of the criticism is to just not win it."
No offense, but the Thunderbirds hope to take a different option even if winning their third title in four years means more smack talk, bitterness and jealousy, which they believe is unfair and off base.
"I don't care," Moe added. "I just care about those who are wearing orange and blue for us."
Understandably, Bills said he'd prefer congratulatory remarks instead of insults, perhaps support instead of sarcasm.
"That definitely feels better, but usually no one's going to do that for you," said the BYU commit. "They just try to point out the things that are bad. We know that and we just try to play through it."
What's unfair, both coaches believe, is that detractors try to undermine hard-earned accomplishments of players and coaches.
"We're on top because we deserve to be on top," Wong said. "People say that we recruit, or this, that and the other. Bottom line is, we have a good staff, a good program, we've got good kids. We have systems that allow us to be successful, and that's all that really matters."
DuPaix's experience has been that "when you win it, they're always looking for an excuse for why you won it."
And people will have some clever names to call you, too.
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