OREM When a coach has 11 new players trying to run an offense that was one of the state's most potent programs last season, he might need to be a little patient and make a few changes.
In fact, even though the Timpanogos Timberwolves will still run a form of the spread offense and "try to get into 7-on-7 situations" as much as possible, this year's version could be effective in a totally opposite way.
Mainly, new quarterback Parker Brown is so fast and athletic that he'll probably be more effective running the ball than throwing it. Add in running back JoJo Pili, who runs more with power than speed, the T-Wolves might be running over people more than running around them.
"Offensively we're reloading, but we do have some good athletes who are stepping into those positions who should be pretty good," T-Wolves coach Brad Molen said. "So we're looking at this season more as reloading than rebuilding."
Still, the T-Wolves plan to open up the field and get the ball to the receivers as much as possible. This year the main targets will be Kellen McWhorter and Justin Nickle. But Timpanogos' not-so-secret weapon might be 6-foot-7 Joe Kruger, who is being recruited by just about every college as a defensive end. However, Kruger has outstanding speed and can surprisingly catch the ball quite well.
"We're going to get things done this year by committee," Molen said.
With the inexperience the T-Wolves have on offense, they're going to depend greatly on their defense to keep them in games. This year they won't win many offensive shootouts like they have in the past. Fortunately, they do have a quality defense with six returning starters, including Kruger. Brown will also play in the defensive backfield.
"Our defense is going to have to carry us until our offense gets going and gets off the ground, because it might take us a few games before the offense steps up and gets rolling," Molen said.
With the need to play so many players on both sides of the ball, Molen is hoping to provide some relief by platooning some and having players share time on the field. And even though the school has a very strong sophomore class, the T-Wolves will still depend on a dozen or so core players to carry most of the load.
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Timpanogos T-Wolves 2008
COACH: Brad Molen (3rd year)
KEY PLAYERS: With no returning starters on offense, the T-Wolves are going to be an offense by committee this season. Quarterback Parker Brown might not have the passing credentials that Christian Stewart had last season, but he's much more athletic and he's one of the state's fastest players. When the T-Wolves run, it will likely be either Brown or lone back JoJo Pili who runs with power. Receivers Kellen McWhorter, Justin Nickle and even big Joe Kruger should keep the passing game potent. Timpanogos' strength will be on defense, where Kruger, Andrew Eide, Toa Peters and Ivan Mounga will anchor the line, while Jeff Ott, Scott Curtis and Jackson Fowler will solidify the linebacker corps.
STRENGTHS: The T-Wolves have six returning starters on defense, which should keep them close in early games while the offense develops. Overall, this team might be more athletic and quicker than last year's team. Advancing to the second round last season has the entire program more confident.
QUESTION MARKS: With a totally new lineup on offense, it might be a few games before the T-Wolves figure out how to consistently move the football and avoid mistakes. This year's team is also a tad smaller than last year's team and not quite as deep. An injury to a key player could be devastating.
PREDICTED REGION 4 FINISH: Fourth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Region 4 is such a strong and balanced league that any team is capable of reaching the playoffs, even though only three spots are up for grabs this year. Still, the T-Wolves are a long shot to reach the postseason and even a bigger long shot to stick around long if they do.