WASHINGTON TERRACE Bonneville's late-season surge and stunning upset win over Highland in the 4A playoffs in 2007 did more than just get the Lakers on the cusp of reaching the turf.
Their accomplishments also helped the Lakers restore some pride in a program that endured back-to-back two-win seasons in 2005 and 2006.
"We're back, and we want to let people know we're ready to play," said Bonneville fullback Tyson Jenkins. "We're bringing Bonneville pride back to where it used to be."
The Lakers hope to take that pride to new levels this season.
Bonneville returns players at key positions from last year's team that won three of its last four regular season games. There are six returning starters on what's expected to be a balanced and potent offense.
Jenkins will get plenty of carries, while Bonneville has some impressive speed on the outside in wideouts Devin Mickles, Justin Stofferahn and Tyler Anderson. Austen Richards is a returning starter at tight end, and will be a major factor in Bonneville's offense.
Senior Todd Aubrey and junior Manaia Filiage are competing to be the starting quarterback. Aubrey throws a nice deep ball, while Filiage is an outstanding athlete who's more of a running threat. If Aubrey wins the job, Filiage will likely contribute at running back and on defense.
"We have a good group coming back," said third-year Bonneville coach Matt Williams. "We had a great summer of weightlifting. The kids are taking care of business. I'm very excited about the season. This has been the best summer we've had since I've been at Bonneville."
Williams had some big shoes to fill when he replaced longtime coach Thom Budge prior to the 2006 season. He was on Budge's staff for eight years before becoming the leader of the program. His tenure started slowly with a 2-7 campaign in his first year.
A 16-14 homecoming win over Sky View last season made people become believers of Williams and the Lakers.
"I think we turned the tables there," Williams said. "It was Sky View's only region loss last year. Things just started to roll for us from there. After that, the kids said, hey, we could be pretty good.'"
Bonneville expects to have that momentum carry them into the 2008 season. The Lakers have worked extremely hard to prepare for the season. The players have gone through their own personal two-a-day workouts with weight training in the mornings and conditioning in the evenings.
"The team is motivated," Jenkins said. "We're here eight times a week conditioning or working out."
The Lakers were picked by the league's coaches to take fourth place in Region 5. That prognostication isn't much of an insult when you consider the team was picked to take last in the league in 2007. The fourth-place pick shows that Bonneville is earning respect and the Lakers hope to gain even more in 2008."We beat the second-ranked team (Highland) last year," Stofferahn said. "There's motivation to do better than that (this season)."
BONNEVILLE LAKERS 2008 PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW
COACH: Matt Williams is in his third year at Bonneville and has a 7-13 record. That mark is deceiving because he has won four of his last six games and seems to have the Lakers on the right track.
KEY PLAYERS: The Lakers return more players on offense than defense, and should be able to put up some points this season. Players to watch are Austen Richards (TE), Tyson Jenkins (FB), Devin Mickles (WR/DB), Justin Stofferahn (WR/DB), Tyler Anderson (WR/DB), Todd Aubrey (QB) and Manaia Filiage (QB, utility).
QUESTION MARKS: There are two major ones regarding the Lakers. The first is which player will be the starting quarterback out of Aubrey and Filiage. The other is how will the inexperienced players respond to playing under the lights. Williams believes in his players who haven't yet played varsity ball, but they'll find out that it's a much different game than sophomores and junior varsity.
LAST YEAR: 5-6, lost to Mountain Crest in the quarterfinals.
PREDICTED REGION 5 FINISH: Fourth
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITES: The Lakers seem like a good bet to qualify for the playoffs despite the fact that Region 5 is loaded and there are no gimmees in league play. Bonneville could finish in the top three as Williams hopes. It could also finish fourth or fifth, which would give the team a tough draw in the playoffs.
Aug. 22 LAYTON, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Weber, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Clearfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Bountiful, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Sky View, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Roy, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 WOODS CROSS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.