Scroll to bottom of story to see Bountiful Felt's Facts
Note: Bountiful finished with an 8-5 overall record and a 4-1 record in Region 6 in 2011. It lost, 59-30, to Logan in the 4A Semifinals.
BOUNTIFUL — It wouldn’t be completely far-fetched to guess that even the morning rooster was yawning as Bountiful began practice virtually shaded in darkness with the sun still resting.
This isn’t a new concept for those who’ve grown up within the Braves' program. It’s a yearly expectation that teaches discipline and reconfirms dedication.
“That’s just Bountiful football. That’s kind of been our tradition — we get here and get it done and try to beat the heat a little bit,” said Bountiful coach Larry Wall. “Our guys’ commitment has been outstanding all summer. We’ve had good numbers here and it’s a priority in their lives. That’s just what we do.”
Showing up bright and early is one thing Bountiful does — winning is another thing it's very good at. Now in his 28th season leading the Braves, Wall became the winningest active coach in the state of Utah this offseason after legendary Skyline coach Roger Dupaix retired.
In every season under Wall’s tutelage, Bountiful has qualified for the playoffs. During that time, the Braves have a 36-23 overall postseason record including four state titles. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons the Braves made consecutive semifinal appearances.
However, simply making it to the "Turf" of Rice-Eccles Stadium isn’t enough in an established program with expectations as high as Bountiful.
"I think the attitude of our guys is we want take that next step and get to the finals and not really be satisfied with the semis. We’ve got a number of kids returning, so they know what it takes to get there,” Wall said. “That’s a big part of it. If it’s just a lofty goal and nobody has ever been there before sometimes it’s hard to find your way there. A good portion of these kids have been to the semis and a number of them have been two times in a row.”
If Bountiful is to return to the state title game for the first time since hoisting the trophy in 2003, it’ll have accomplish what it’s failed to do in recent years — win the games that matter.
The five teams who beat Bountiful last year combined for an overall record of 60-6, including Logan twice.
Its eight wins? The competition tallied just a 32-49 record. Only two of the wins in 2011 were against teams with winning marks (Highland and Olympus).
“We need to get back and be more competitive and have a little better result,” Wall said in reference to games against elite programs.
The Braves will embark through nearly a mirror image schedule of 2011. Strangely, all 10 games are in the exact order with only location changing.
With games against defending state champions Lone Peak and Logan in the first three weeks of the season — both at home — along with 4A runner-up East hovering toward the tail-end, Bountiful will have the opportunity to prove itself worthy once again.
“That’s all on design. We want to play the best football teams we can and especially early. Then you know what you’ve got and where you’re a little deficient,” Wall said. “So, right off the bat we play the defending state champs — two of them our first three games of the year. That’s all just part of the experience.”
Bountiful Braves at a glance
Coach: Larry Wall began coaching at Bountiful when Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was the No. 1 song in the nation. That was in 1985. He has a career record of 209-99 — all with the Braves. He’s a graduate of Viewmont High.
(4 returning starters; I-back offense)
Running back Jakob Hunt burst on to the statewide scene during the Braves' playoff run as a junior last season. In the quarterfinals against Olympus, Hunt scampered for 203 yards and two touchdowns, reassuring his durability with 40 carries.
He finished with 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“Jake is a phenomenal athlete,” Wall said. “He’s probably our strongest kid (and) our fastest kid. All of these kids see Jake working hard and that sets the bar high — sets the tempo and where we need to be.”
Bountiful may be forced to rely heavily on Hunt’s production with the insecurity of a passing game at the current juncture.
“Both of them are good athletes (that) played a little last year,” Wall said. “That’s probably our biggest void right now is to replace Cam Zollinger who was a two-year starter for us.
“Each has their attributes. I’m excited as a coach to see which one steps up. We may not have a clear-cut guy coming into this first game; we may still be battling at that time.”
(3 returning starters)
It was a season of hit and miss for the Bountiful defense in 2011, but it provided a pretty logical explanation for wins and losses. In the wins the defense played great — allowing 14 or fewer points six times.
In the losses against Lone Peak, Logan (twice), Viewmont and East the Braves gave up big numbers — nearly 40 points per game.
With two of the three returning starters both having three years of varsity experience, Bountiful should return to its usual tendency of frustrating opposing offenses in 2012.
Rylee Gautavai, who's gaining interest from teams such as Arizona and Utah, racked up 122 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions last season. He eclipsed 10-plus tackles in seven games.
Then, Junior Hamilton, tipping the scales at 300-pounds, really developed as an interior defensive lineman with 46 tackles.
“He kind of has the whole package. One thing that I think he’s improved a lot on this last year is technique. That comes with experience,” Wall said of Hamilton. “Early he was a big, physical kid and relied on his natural abilities. Now, all of that kind of kicks in and he’s more of a total player now. He does a great job up front for us.”
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: Second
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: Third
Bottom line: Bountiful is going to make the playoffs. The last 27 years say that statement is right. Returning to the semifinals in 4A this season will be an incredible feat, on the other hand, as the classification might be deeper than it’s ever been in history. Right now, Bountiful and Highland are basically a coin-flip for the second spot in the region — both well behind East.
Aug. 17 — LONE PEAK, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — LOGAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — CYPRUS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Highland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — EAST, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — LAYTON, TBD
Felts Facts for Bountiful High School
All-time record: 354-236-8 (56 years)
Region championships: 11 (1959, 1964, 1974 co, 1975 co, 1977 co, 1981 co, 1990, 1999, 2001 co, 2002, 2010)
Playoff appearances: 36
All-time playoff record: 47-31
State championships: 5 (1979, 1990, 1991, 2002, 2003)
State championship record: 5-5
Most played rivalry: 47 meetings with Viewmont dating back to 1964. Bountiful leads 26-21. Meet on Sept. 7.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Among active coaches, Larry Wall leads the state in games coached, 308, victories, 209, and seasons, starting his 27th. ... Bountiful was the last large school to shut out all its opponents in the playoffs. The Braves blanked all three en route to the 1979 Class 3A title.
Bountiful coaching history
1985-Current — Larry Wall (209-99)
1982-1984 — Kim Peterson (13-17)
1972-1981 — Paul Waite (75-33)
1968-1971 — Lynn Smith (4-33)
1965-1967 — Leo Conk (9-18)
1956-1964 — Lloyd Hayes (44-36)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2003 — Chase Christensen, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — Rylee Guatavai, LB
2010 — Teau Satuala
2010 — Dillon Salazar, DB
2009 — Thomas Hamilton, DL
2009 — Helam Heimuli, DL
2009 — Ben Lemon, LB
2008 — Darren Denucci, OL
2008 — Travish Parrish, LB
2008 — Joe Lake, K
2007 — Tongo Toko, LB
2007 — Jamie Rigby, DB
2007 — Ammon Schwab, K
2005 — Daniel Benson, OL
2005 — Nick Binks, DL
2005 — Jake Magalei, DB
2004 — Joel Mariner, OL
2004 — Zack Wilson, LB
2004 — Jace Wood, DB
2003 — Matt Baza, DL
2003 — Christian Cox, LB
2003 — David Carroll, K
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.