OGDEN Winning a couple games and making the playoffs last year were steps in the right direction for the Ogden High School football program last year.
The task of taking the next step belongs to first-year head coach Eric Eyre, formerly an assistant coach at Alta.
"I don't think our kids are any different than kids at Alta or kids anywhere. The demographics may be different, but kids are kids," Eyre said. "The things we have to overcome is the mentality of losing. When you've lost for a long time, that's kind of the first hurdle."
From what he's seen in the preseason, things are progressing nicely in that area.
Ogden tasted a little bit of success last year thanks to an outstanding junior class. Those kids are now seniors, and Eyre admits he's very lucky to be inheriting that group.
"As far as this senior group, it's been a really good group, really dedicated. We don't have the numbers that maybe other teams have that (we're) competing against in 3A, but when it's all said and done we've got some talent," Eyre said.
The offseason has been all about instilling work ethic and discipline, as well as implementing a new offense and defense. It's been a challenge, but Eyre likes the direction everyone is heading.
One of the biggest things Eyre is trying to accomplish is limiting the number of kids who play both ways. He a admits it's a big challenge with only 40 kids, but it's definitely possible.
For a player like Max Rodriguez, a part-time quarterback last year, it means an entirely different role. Eyre believes Rodriguez has potential to play college football at defensive end, and that's how Ogden's coach will primarily use him. He'll also see some playing time at tight end, but he won't have to deal with the mental burden of playing quarterback.
That responsibility will fall on either Jake Buck or Nik Allred. The two juniors have been competing for the spot during summer camps and throughout the preseason, and Eyre said he's just waiting for one of them to step up.
Like Rodriguez, Freddie Delgado is another player who will be more specialized this season. He split time pretty evenly between running back and linebacker this year, but he'll be focusing almost exclusively on running back this year.
Defensively, the Tigers will still be in great shape without him.
On the line, in addition to Rodriguez at one end position and returning all-region selection Jose Alejandre at the other. Jose Reyes will anchor things at nose guard. At 5-foot-8, 280 pounds, Reyes doesn't necessarily look extremely athletic, but his coach says he's as good a nose guard as any in the state.
Zach Saffell is a returning starter at linebacker, while Eli Garcia moves from linebacker to free safety and Ben Buck moves from linebacker to strong safety.
From a strength standpoint, Eyre believes Ogden is one of the best in the state. From a football IQ point of view, they lag behind because many of the players don't play football until high school. Eyre is hoping to change that culture."I don't know that we're to the point where we can do everything Alta does offensively and defensively. We're slowing just starting to put things in," Eyre said. "That's one of the unfortunate things, we're having to focus a lot on fundamentals, and I don't have a problem keeping it simple, when it comes down to it it's more about execution."
Ogden Tigers prep football preview
COACH: After one season as an assistant at Box Elder and Weber, followed by the previous three as a defensive line coach at Alta, Eric Eyre takes over the Ogden program as a first time head coach.
KEY PLAYERS: Jose Alejandre is one of the few players the coaching staff plans to play on both sides of the ball, at defensive end and guard. Sheldon Black and Jacob Farley are also expected to be key contributors on the offensive line. Zach Saffell was one of the leading tacklers in the state last year, and big things are expected of the middle linebacker again this year. Offensively, Freddie Garcia will be the feature back in the spread offense.
QUESTION MARK: With the introduction of a new offense and defense, the Tigers must deal with a steep learning curve this year. It will probably help that many of the kids will only play on one side of the ball, but that creates some of its own challenges with only about 40 kids on the team. Speed is another area of concern.
PREDICTED REGION 11 FINISH: Sixth
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: There's no doubt that Ogden is going to be a better football team this year, but so too are the other five teams in Region 11. Claiming one of the four guaranteed playoff berths from Region 11 will be a tall task. There's an extra berth, however, for the fifth seed from either Region 10 or 11, a seemingly realistic expectation for Ogden.
Aug. 22 at North Summit, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 JUDGE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Granger, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Uintah, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Carbon, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 MORGAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Logan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Bear River, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 GRANTSVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 BEN LOMOND, 7 p.m.