OREM Far from content with last season's surprising turnaround and subsequent playoff run, Mountain View head coach Teko Johnson is trying to build his team's expectations of competing at a high level in competitive Region 7.
While they won't be the surprise team of the year this season, Johnson says that only means his team will have to work harder in order to improve.
"You try to raise the expectations and get to the point where kids expect to do well and win," Johnson said. "But you have to put the time in, it is not like we are going to sneak up on anyone this year. Last year I think we proved we can play with some good teams."
The Bruins lost some key pieces to last year's team that improved from only one win in 2006 to a 7-4 finish and a playoff win in 2007. They lost their quarterback, a couple of key linemen and an athletic go-to receiver to graduation, but they feel they will be just fine.
One reason for optimism is the plethora of running backs that are returning for the Bruins. Anthony Heimuli, who has already committed to play at BYU, is the most notable. But T.J. Mounga and others have shown they are capable as well.
"All of them are faster, all of them are stronger and more explosive," Johnson said. "They have all really come on board and made themselves better. Certainly we have some good backs who can run and are physical, tough kids."
On his own accord, Nate Stroshine, a former tight end, started to take snaps in the off-season and as he continued to progress he solidified his role as the quarterback. Stroshine is a big, strong and athletic quarterback, and although he has no experience in the position the coaches are not too concerned.
"What (Stroshine) lacks in experience he makes up for it in his leadership and in his presence in the huddle," Johnson said.
Depth could be an issue for the Bruins, who will depend on four or five players to go both ways this season but Johnson says he is not worried about the pressure of the coming season. He just wants to challenge his guys to be the best they can be every day.
As for his secret weapon.
"We have some crazy fans," Johnson said. "Those kids are awesome. I have been at a lot of schools but I don't think I have seen a group of kids that get that excited to come to games."
Mountain View Bruins 2008 Season Preview
COACH: Teko Johnson, a Utah native, recently spent 13 years in Pennsylvania and New York, where he made a name for himself by turning several programs around. Before his time back east he was an assistant coach at Tooele and Hillcrest. Last year, his first at Mountain View, he transformed the Bruins from a team that won just one game in 2006, to a 7-4 playoff team.
KEY PLAYERS: The Bruins will rely on a stable of talented running backs to pace the offense. Anthony Heimuli is an agile, yet powerful back, as is T.J. Mounga, and both will carry the ball plenty. Wes Christensen might even see some carries. Coaches are excited about the leadership of new quarterback Nate Stroshine, who will be agile and tough to bring down in the pocket. His top receivers are likely to be Jordan Smith and Chris Wright. Anthony Rowley, Nick Zollinger, Taylor Story, Joel Speir, Cody Freytag and McKay Hatch will all be key in the trenches. Other defensive standouts will be Logan Paulson, Tanner Houston and Bennett Maxwell at linebacker, and Matt Bowen and Dallas Neath as defensive backs.
STRENGTHS: If their running backs stay healthy, the Bruins should see another successful season. They also have a good group of athletic receivers which will keep defenses from putting everyone in the box to stop the run. A good balanced attack will keep defenses guessing. A good group of linebackers highlight the defense.
QUESTION MARKS: Mountain View's biggest question mark is depth. A few injuries could really hurt the Bruins. They were already thin in the trenches last year, and despite a couple of standouts, they could be even thinner this year. While coaches are high on Stroshine, he could struggle in his first year playing quarterback especially throwing the football.
LAST YEAR: 7-4, third in Region 7.
PREDICTED REGION 6 FINISH: Third.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Mountain View surprised everyone last year by making the playoffs, and winning its first-round game. This year it won't sneak up on anyone but should find itself back in postseason play.
Aug. 22 PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 PAYSON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 TOOELE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Timpview, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 PROVO, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Springville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 DIXIE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Orem, 7 p.m.