ALTAMONT Altamont's football team was extremely young last year and will be extremely young again this year.
But 12 months removed from enduring a 1-10 season, the Longhorns hope to apply the lessons they learned from that experience throughout this fall. Though they'll only have three seniors, they only lost two from a year ago and more importantly they'll have returning starters at almost every position.
"We'll still be young, but the positive thing is we'll have a bunch of kids that have experience," said coach Dan Zabriskie. "I think last year, especially at the first of the year, the kids were a little overwhelmed by the situation. They go from playing little-league football to playing varsity football right off. It's a big step.
"We're just hoping the experience pays off. I don't think we'll be state champs this year, but I think hopefully we'll surprise some people and maybe even catch a few that aren't expecting us."
Inasmuch as last year's freshmen and sophomores looked perhaps frightened by their surroundings early on, senior captain Talon Carter says those guys have much more confidence now.
"They're not as scared and timid as they were last year," he said. "I think that'll help us out."
Carter will start at tailback on offense and at safety on defense, and there's no question the two-year captain will help to lead the way on the field and off it.
"We're gonna ask a lot out of him," said Zabriskie. "He's a good example to the kids. He works hard in the weight-room. He's always running hard. He's always pushing the kids, so he does good that way."
Altamont hopes to experience a shift in attitude in just about everything it does this fall, and the Longhorns hope that will particularly evidence itself on the defensive side of the ball.
"We saw at camp, they were hitting people (and) making good tackles," said Zabriskie. "I'm hopin' that continues. I'm hoping to see a lot of attitude this year. Last year, I think we kind of ducked our heads a little bit and maybe got intimidated."I'm hoping this year we can just be aggressive and just have a mean attitude. Defense is attitude, in my opinion, and hopefully we can have that. Hopefully we can have kids step up and make plays."
Altamont Longhorns prep football preview
COACH: Dan Zabriskie prepped at North Sanpete under the tutelage of highly-respected Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton.
KEY PLAYERS: In the backfield, it all starts with senior tailback Talon Carter, who rushed for close to 1,000 yards last fall. He'll be joined by three-year starter Bryson Foy at quarterback and junior Waylon Thompson at fullback, while Russell Brinkerhoff and Garrett Sorensen are returning starters at wide receiver. Zaquri Brinkerhoff, Dalton Smith, Nick Burton, Cole Meek and Shelby Thayne are all returning starters along the offensive line. All of those guys should be key contributors defensively, as well as Brady Thacker at cornerback.
QUESTION MARK: Can Altamont turn the corner with its experienced guys this fall? There are oodles of returning starters back, and those guys need to prove they learned the lessons from last year's painful season to emerge as a successful team in 2008.
LAST YEAR: 1-10, lost to Kanab in the first round.
PREDICTED CLASS 1A NORTH FINISH: Fourth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Realistically, playoff success is probably at least a year or two away for the Longhorns. The hope for them, however, will be to be much improved this fall and to sneak up on an unsuspecting opponent when the 1A tournament rolls around.
Aug. 22 at South Summit, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 RANGELY, COLO., 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 CARBON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Grand, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Duchesne, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Milford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 KANAB, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 RICH, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 MONTICELLO, 7 p.m.Oct. 24 at Layton Christian, 7 p.m.