PROVO Many describe Timpview High's football program as a Utah prep sports dynasty.
Even those who won't go that far can't deny that the Thunderbirds have been one of the state's most dominant teams for the past decade or so. For sure, they've been the most dominant team in 4A football for the past four years a period in which the T-Birds have won three of the school's six state football titles.
And during that time period the T-Birds haven't exactly been getting past teams by the skin of their teeth. In the 2004 title year they outscored opponents by an average of 27 points per game. Even in 2005, a non-title year, they had a scoring differential on the positive side by 13 points. In 2006 they outscored opponents by 19 points and gave up less than five points per game. Last season they had a whopping 36-points per game differential.
In the team's current 24-game winning streak it has 11 shutouts. Only two teams have scored more than 14 points against the T-Birds during that stretch. Timpview has advanced past the first round of the playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons.
"A lot of it just goes back to tradition and what the school, the kids and coaches expect from themselves," said head coach Louis Wong, whose team is picked by many to win its third straight state championship this season. "Our kids just want to achieve."
There's several reasons behind Timpview's success. For one, the T-Birds have a coaching staff that looks like the whose-who of former head coaches, and Wong pretty much delegates responsibility and authority to each.
"I know what their weaknesses are and they know what my weaknesses are, and we compliment each other pretty well," Wong said.
Included in that group are former Provo head coach Frank Henderson and former Timpview head coaches Bobby Kauo and Chad Van Orden. Henderson is the scouting expert who breaks down film and directs the special teams. Van Orden, who Wong previously assisted for eight years, is the mastermind behind Timpview's explosive offense. He's one of the best at finding and exploiting an opposing team's defensive weakness.
"He's pushed me along and taught me almost everything I know. He's my mentor and he's the real reason we've been so successful here. And when he goes, I go," Wong said.
Timpview also has outstanding facilities, quality offseason programs, and conducts practices in way called by one observer as "a well-oiled machine." It's a practice system that Wong learned as a graduate assistant at Utah.
"Honestly, that's probably the biggest difference right there. I've made sure that we practice at the college level. By doing that we just get a lot more done. There is absolutely no wasted time," he said.
One reason that Wong can use a specialized practice system is because he platoons his players. Seldom does Timpview have players going both ways.
Of course, a team can't platoon without a roster deep with athletes. Timpview's been fortunate to have a few families, including the families of several BYU assistant coaches, that have fed its team great athletes for years.
Also, there's no denying that Timpview has benefited from some very good athletes moving into its boundaries or enrolling as first-entry (freshmen) athletes under the open-enrollment rules. Wong is fully aware of criticism that he attracts the top Polynesians to his program and allegations that he recruits. He strongly denies both. Those athletes and families who transfer or move into Timpview's boundaries do so by their choice, without any influence from Timpview's coaches, he said.
"We know what the rules are and we abide by those rules," Wong said.
In fact, any athlete who thinks he is guaranteed a starring role or a college scholarship by transferring to Timpview is sorely mistaken, Wong said.
"If a kid is talented enough, has the size and is willing to work hard, he'll get noticed wherever he plays. I am not here to guarantee any kid a D-1 scholarship. I'm here to develop the kids here at Timpview into better athletes and to develop them into better people."
For the most part, Wong said there really isn't anything magical about Timpview' success. The coaches just run a simple and efficient program that instills being athletic, and stresses focus, preparation and execution."The bottom line is we compete and we know what it takes," Wong said.