OGDEN Jeff Kilts' first year as Ben Lomond High's head football coach is really just a blur.
Without a consistent staff of assistant coaches to fall back on, Kilts said he was swamped from the moment he took over. During some practices last year, there were only two coaches present, which left a lot of details unattended to.
Things are much more settled in 2008.
"I'm really happy with the coaching staff I have now. It was kind of a long process last year getting coaches," said Kilts.
This year, in addition to Kilts, there are five assistant coaches who teach at the high school. One of them is former Ogden High coach Dennis Dalton, who will be Ben Lomond's defensive coordinator. Now, instead of worrying about how many coaches he'll have at practice, Kilts can focus on his players and his team.
As a result, the Scots should be much improved from their 2-10 record a year ago.
That's not to say there aren't some holes. There are only 10 seniors on the team, as well as zero returning starters on the offensive line and questions at quarterback. Predictably, the Scots will have to win with defense early.
"We're putting a lot of focus on defense right now because we need to be good on defense early to let the offense kind of catch up with the quarterback thing and the line," said Kilts. "But once we get there, I'm expecting some good things."
Max Walling is the front-runner to start at quarterback after gaining valuable experience filling in for the injured Chase Moore for last year. Even though the team was 0-7 with Walling under center and 2-3 with Moore under center, Moore is now a senior at Roy High School.
"The year of maturity is going to be good for Max, and we've got a couple guys pushing him," said Kilts. "We're kind of up in the air what we're going to do there."
Whatever direction the team goes at quarterback, Kilts said the weapons are in place for anyone to be successful. Not only will the offensive line be good once they gain a little experience, but Ben Lomond's strength is undoubtedly in the receiving corps a plus with the spread offense.
Senior Joey Ybarra and juniors Bridger Smith and Jared Jackson Jr. are all returning starters at receiver. Jackson is a tremendous athlete who returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last year, while Ybarra is a possession-type receiver with great speed. Smith is a mix of the two, and Kilts said there are several other talented underclassmen vying for the fourth starting receiver spot. Walling may also end up playing receiver if he doesn't start at quarterback.
To be successful with the spread, a team needs someone who can run the ball, and Ben Lomond has one of 3A's best in Shay Kaleikini. A bruising power back, he came into his own late in the season last year with several 200-yard rushing performances.
Fatigue at times got the better of Kaleikini last year with his duties at defensive tackle, but the coaching staff is hoping to keep him fresh by starting him at linebacker this year.
"When he's fresh we get a lot out of him," said Kilts.Kaleikini is the heart of the team on offense and defense, and his senior leadership will be critical to the younger players buying into Kilts' systems and philosophies.
Ben Lomond Scots prep football preview
COACH: Jeff Kilts is much more settled in his second year at Ben Lomond. He has a solid staff behind him, and his 15 years of experience as a head coach in Utah and Texas should help the Scots make great strides this year.
KEY PLAYERS: Power back Shay Kaleikini rushed for over 900 yards last season, and he should easily go above that this year. Kaleikini is moving from defensive tackle to linebacker this year to keep him slightly more fresh on offense. The move was made possible by the emergence of defensive tackles Damian Patterson (280 pounds) and Curtis Joy (310). Receiver Jared Jackson Jr. had a great sophomore season last year, and he's proven himself to be equally as dangerous as a kick returner as well.
QUESTION MARK: Even though Ben Lomond is breaking in five new starters on the offensive line, coach Kilts is confident in their ability. It's quarterback that he's most concerned about. Max Walling is the front runner, but he might be more suited to play receiver and linebacker. That might open the door for Carson Chadwick or one of two other possible quarterbacks. For a school that uses the spread offense, this uncertainty in early August at the quarterback position is obviously a concern.
LAST YEAR: 2-10, lost in the first round to Juan Diego.
PREDICTED REGION 11 FINISH: Tied for fourth with Grantsville.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Last year Ben Lomond qualified for the playoffs by beating Ogden on the final day of the regular season and then beating Bear River in a play-in game. With as good as Region 11 is this year, the Scots' playoff chances will likely come down to the final game against Ogden again.
Aug. 22 at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 TOOELE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 BYE
Sept. 19 at Wasatch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 MORGAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Grantsville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 LOGAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Ogden, 7 p.m.