OREM Every year the Orem Tigers are very good in two or three areas.
This season the Tigers feel like they're good in every area. Normally, teams that have the whole package do very well in high school football.
"We really don't have a weak area," coach Robert Steele said. "I think we're pretty balanced and pretty strong in every part of our team. We're just bringing a better all-around package. So we're hoping that we can do a better job of putting both our offense and defense together, and I think we will."
Most of the confidence the Tigers possess comes from the school's success from the past, and because this group has won at every level. Orem has reached the playoffs for five straight years. As freshmen three years ago, this group won the Utah Valley Cougar Conference championship.
"These guys have always done fairly well as an age group, so I think they're expecting some good things from themselves again this season," Steele said.
Orem has traditionally been one of the stronger teams at defending the run, but a little weak at defending the pass. Steele is hoping that a few changes in his team's defensive scheme will correct that possible hole in its armor.
"We're going to put a few different things in on defense so we're not so vulnerable to the pass. We've always been able to stop the run, but teams have hurt us with the pass so we need to be able to defend the pass a lot better," he said.
The Tigers have a good nucleus returning on offense with quarterback Josh Hamblin, receiver Jordan Egbert and running back Tyler Boulter all back and healthy. With those weapons, the Tigers will probably throw the ball a little more this season. And to take advantage of Hamblin's strong arm they'll also use the shotgun formation more than in the past.
Steele also says his line is deeper than it's been in the past and feels that will help late in games and should someone get hurt. Orem's overall depth, however, might be the team's only weak spot. A lot of the key players will start and play on both sides of the ball."If someone gets injured and goes down, to us, that's like losing two starters. So we have to stay healthy if we want to go very far this year," Steele said.
Orem Tigers 2008 prep football preview
COACH: As weird as it sounds, Robert Steele, beginning his sixth season, is the second-most veteran head coach at one school in Utah County. Only American Fork's Davis Knight has been at one school longer. As a head coach Steele has never experienced a losing season and has taken the Tigers to the playoffs in each of the past five years. Before taking the head job Steele was an assistant for 17 seasons. He's coached a variety of sports at Orem for more than two decades.
KEY PLAYERS: With Josh Hamblin returning at quarterback, the Tigers should have a better passing game this season. It also helps to have receiver Jordan Egbert back from an injury that kept him out last season. Add in receiver Lance Chatterly, and the Tigers have several good targets. Experienced running backs Tyler Boulter and John Huntbach give the team good balance. Defense has always been Orem's specialty, and this year should be no exception with linebackers Jeremiah Tiatia and Steve Warner, and DB's Austin Jones and Morgan Wimmer. The Tigers have good size and depth in the line with Alihi Fa'alafua, Quinn Lawlor, Jake Brickey and Jake Jensen.
STRENGTHS: The Tigers are very strong in the skill positions this season and have good overall balance and experience. The line should also be improved and the Tigers have more depth in the trenches than they've had for quite some time.
QUESTION MARKS: What the Tigers don't have is much depth in the skill positions. A key player going down with an injury would be costly. The team also need to improve its pass defense. Once again, the Tigers will have many players starting and playing on both sides of the ball.
LAST SEASON: 6-5, second in region. Lost first-round game to Bountiful.
PROJECTED 2008 REGION 7 FINISH: Second
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: The Tigers have too much talent and experience that it would be stunning if they didn't reach the playoffs. In fact, they're very capable of getting as far as the Final Four.
Aug. 22 VIEWMONT, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 SNOW CANYON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Timpanogos, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Tooele, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Provo, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Payson, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 MOUNTAIN VIEW, 7 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]