SPANISH FORK Last year a few teams in a few sports at American Leadership Academy experienced winning and experienced playing in the postseason for the first time.
However, football was not one of them. But eventually, the Eagles football team is going to get over that hump and know what it feels like to play playoff-caliber football. Will the school's third season finally be the charm?
According to coach Tom Fell, based on team unity alone, this might be the year. At the very least, he's hoping the Eagles will win a few more league games this season and be much more competitive.
"These guys really get along and really like each other," Fell said. "And they really want to win. They don't like being the subject of jokes at school. So we're hoping we can build a little on the success some of the school's other programs had last year."
To turn things around and gain some much-needed confidence, however, the Eagles need some good things to happen early in the season.
"I think we need to have some success in some early games so we don't revert back to the same old thinking and complacency. We probably need to experience some adversity and then overcome that adversity and learn from it," Fell said.
Personnel wise, the Eagles have more experience this season and also have a good mix of young players capable of making big contributions. More players will contribute to the offense and opponents are going to have more weapons to stop. Defensively, the Eagles should be greatly improved.
"I think we have a very good nucleus of kids," Fell said. "If we can just play better football from a fundamental standpoint, I think we'll have a chance to win a lot more games."
One bonding ingredient that this team has that other ALA teams have not, is a sense of belonging. Ownership in the school's football program could be the motivating factor that leads to a few more wins."I think they're finally starting to buy into where they're at and I think they're starting to gain a lot more school pride. They want to play hard for the school and they want to win for the school," Fell said.
American Leadership Eagles 2008 prep football preview
COACH: Tom Fell begins his second season as a head coach and also as the athletic director at ALA. As a native of British Columbia, he played college football at Snow College and Southern Utah University. He was an assistant for two seasons at Copper Hills before moving on to work as an assistant at Snow College, Arizona Western and William Penn University.
KEY PLAYERS: The Eagles are going to have to lean on their senior experience if they want to finally find some winning ways. Returning are linemen Robbie Marciel, Ezra McMullin and Greg Mora. The team's three main offensive weapons are likely to be running backs Peter Reid and Micah Keeno, and receiver/quarterback Bo Rodeback. Also fighting for the QB job will be sophomore Aaron Olson. Several other underclassmen are expected to contribute including Cole Fulton, Tyler Zeeman and Hunter Morley.
STRENGTHS: The Eagles have the most depth at the skill positions than they've had in the school's three-year history. This might also be the school's most-athletic team. According to coach Fell, team unity has never been better.
QUESTION MARKS: Even though the Eagles are deep in ball carriers, receivers and quarterbacks, they don't have much depth anywhere else. The line will only be average in size and several young players will be called upon heavily. More than anything, the Eagles need to learn how to win and get accustomed to winning.
LAST YEAR: 1-9, finished alone in sixth in 2A North.
PREDICTED 2A NORTH FINISH: Sixth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: It's not likely that the Eagles will go from a two-win season to the playoffs. If they can win a game or two early, however, they could be a spoiler.
Aug. 22 at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 CEDAR, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Emery, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 MANTI, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Juab, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at North Summit, 7 p.m.Oct. 15 SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.