AMERICAN FORK The summer football camp circuit is over and American Fork left quite an impression.
It may not be a true indication of how a team will compete, but if the 7-on-7 and skill camps do show signs of things to come, the Cavemen may be booking a repeat trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium and the 5A state semifinals. In 2007, they won a couple of the passing camps and word spread that American Fork was a team to watch out for. It proved true as it won a share of the Region 4 title and two playoff games before bowing out to the runners-up from Layton.
The camps are set up mainly for quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers, and the 2008 Cavemen faired well in all of them. They had an MVP of the All-Poly camp in Nathaniel Olsen, and the speed of the running backs and receivers left a buzz, setting up reminders of a year ago. Of course, according to coach Davis Knight, it doesn't really matter how that group of players performed.
"We call our linemen our skill guys," he said. "Our philosophy is that it all starts up front and you build from there. We can't do anything without those guys getting it done."
The Cavemen are not going to be the biggest team in the state, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for in speed, athleticism and most of all attitude.
"We want to go out and hit people," said lineman Sam Katoa. "When we play a team, we want them to know that they are in for a battle, that we are going to come after them on every play. We want to be the aggressors and be the team that dominates physically. If we do that, we will be all right."
With the loss of 18 starters, American Fork will not be the most experienced team. It will have to rely heavily on first-year varsity players and a number of underclassmen to fill roles. But that doesn't seem to worry this confident bunch.
"We have been waiting and preparing for this for a long time," said quarterback Jordan Lusk, who will be starting varsity for the first time. "We watched how those guys last year did it, so we know what it takes to be successful. It is great that they made it so far, but what they did doesn't mean a thing for us. We are going to have to go out there and prove to people that we can get it done as well."
Besides talking about how physical they want to be, the overall feeling among the players and coaches is that the team speed is going to be the thing that propels this team to among the elite.
American Fork Cavemen 2008
COACH: Davis Knight (28th year)
KEY PLAYERS: (QB) Jordan Lusk takes on a big role as he will be the one running the offense. (OL) Ammaron Patone anchors a line that will be key if the Cavemen expect to match the success of last season's squad. (OL) Weston Smith and (OL) Jaron Kruger have the athletic ability to dominate up front as well. Speedster Nathaniel Olsen was an MVP at the prestigious All-Poly football camp in the summer. Others to keep an eye on include Weston Frandsen, Mitch Harrison, Austin Rich, Jorey Hansen and Ethan and Evan Wright.
QUESTION MARK: Will the loss of 18 starters be too much for the team to overcome?
PREDICTED REGION FINISH: 2nd
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: With Region 4 getting only three playoff teams for the postseason, the Cavemen will have to mature quickly. There will be a very good team sitting home and watching, so coach Knight and his squad know how important every region contest will be.