Note: Altamont finished with a 5-7 overall record in 2012 and was fourth in the 1A North region with a 1-3 record. It lost to Rich 40-14 in the 1A semifinals.
ALTAMONT — Coming off a tough semifinal loss to Rich last season, Altamont has decided to go in a new direction with a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator.
Anthony Wilcox will be in charge on the sidelines, while the Longhorns have introduced 10-year veteran Merlin Rasmussen, who spent 10 seasons coaching as an assistant at Union, as their new offensive coordinator.
"It'll be a nice addition. He's been coaching our younger seventh- and eighth- graders, but he's going to step up and help coach high school. So it'll be nice to have him. This is only my second year coaching, so it'll be nice to have that kind of experience to lean on," said Wilcox.
After losing top rusher Kyle Foy, who carried the ball 291 times for 1,854 yards and 17 TDs in 2012, Altamont wants to throw the ball more.
With only four starters and two seniors returning, replacing a dominant, go-to guy like Foy is no easy task, and Wilcox is well aware of the challenge.
"He was a huge part of our offense. I bet 70 percent of our offense went through him, so obviously it's hard to replace a workhorse like that," Wilcox said. "We got his younger brother (Rylee), so hopefully he wants to fill in his footsteps."
Because of the significant loss to its running game, Altamont has vocalized its plan to air out the ball more this season.
"We will do a lot of stuff out of the I formation, but we would like to throw the ball more. I mean, we've been predominantly a 80-90 percent run team, so we'd like to throw the ball a little bit more to prevent people from bringing nine, 10 people in the box and trying to stop the run," added Wilcox. "We're not going to completely reinvent the wheel. We've mostly got the same kids, so we want to keep the same type of system in place, but just try to throw the ball a little bit more."
The Longhorns will hand the reins of the quarterback position to senior Dillon Lindsay, who has yet to see much action on the field. Lindsay has only attempted 12 passes thus far, completing none and giving up two picks in his high school career.
Despite having a fairly young team with only two returning seniors, experience isn't much of an issue for Altamont. Most of the sophomores and juniors on the team have seen some, if not significant, varsity playing time.
"It's good to have those people who have been in the program who have varsity experience, just because that level of playing at varsity is a lot different than playing at the JV level," Wilcox explained.
Top returning contributors for the Longhorns will include senior Lindsay (QB/CB), and juniors Rylee Foy (LB/RB), Slayton Thompson (RB/LB) and Talon Gines (OL/DL).
Along with a new coaching staff, quarterback and running back, the Altamont Longhorns are looking to change up their tempo and approach to the game.
"A big thing, too, is just our tempo of practice. We're hopefully going to have a more up-tempo pace to the game, so as a result, we have been trying to implement that in practice. More reps, less time in between plays — things like that — to try to implement a higher-speed offense. But really, just the main thing is trying to get kids in the weight room, kids in the summer, kids committed to running, and commitment from them longer term," added Wilcox.
When asked about his expectations for this upcoming season, Wilcox still wasn't sure just what to expect.
"I don't know. I think if our kids came together, we could have a good season, but like I said we're still a pretty young team with a different coaching staff. I think I have a different coaching style than coach (Mick) Fieldstead had, so we'll see if we can bring it all together," Wilcox said.
"I mean, obviously, I'm coaching to win. I want to have a successful program and get more of a winning mentality here. So we'll wait and see how that all turns out, I guess. On Friday night, you never know what will happen."
Altamont Longhorns at a glance
Coach: Anthony Wilcox in entering his first season as head coach at Altamont, while offensive coordinator Merlin Rasmussen is also in his first year on the Longhorns' coaching staff.
(4 returning starters; I formation, multiple-formation offenses)
Altamont should be a lot more balanced on the offensive end. With the departure of Kyle Foy, who led the Longhorns in rushing yards and rushing TDs, Altamont plans to spread out and air out the ball a lot more this season. Dillon Lindsay will take over the quarterback position in his senior season, while Slayton Thompson and Rylee Foy will get most of the work out of the backfield. Talon Gines is also expected to be a power for the Longhorns on the offensive line.
(4 returning starters)
The defense made strides last year, giving up 312 points throughout the entire season, including the postseason. However, 312 points does leave a fair amount of room for improvement, especially if the Longhorns want to make a deep playoff run.
Coaches preseason Region 1A North straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 1A North predictions: Third
Bottom Line: Due to the small size of the school and team, Altamont — like everyone else in 1A — hopes to stay healthy to be able to seriously compete. This season will pose a challenge for the Longhorns, seeing as their go-to-guy Foy is no longer on the squad and they made changes to their coaching staff. This fall, the underclassmen will need to step up and fill the empty shoes left behind by Foy and Alex Mackey to help make Altamont a contender.
Altamont coaching history
2013 — Anthony Wilcox (0-0)
2009-2012 — Mick Fieldstead (20-24)
2006-2008 — Daniel Zabriskie (3-26)
1998-2005 — Mark Barnum (35-44)
1996-1997 — Robert Marshall (7-12)
1995 — Darrin Jensen (3-8)
1991-1994 — Robert Marshall (25-15)
1986-1990 — Dave Peck (14-33)
1982-1985 — Frank Hill (5-31)
1980-1981 — Kim Petersen (1-14)
1977-1979 — Jack Barton (14-13)
1974-1976 — Bill Manzanares (15-12)
1972-1973 — Rod Jorgensen (Unknown)
1949 — Glenn Allred (0-6)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Kyle Foy, RB/LB
2012 — Denver Knight, OL/DL
2012 — Cassidy Smith, OL/DL
2011 — Kyle Foy, FB/LB
2010 — Zaquri Brinkerhoff, OL/LB
2010 — Dalton Smith, OL/DL
2009 — Zach Hatch, RB/LB
2009 — Waylon Thompson, RB/LB
2007 — Kyle Pugh, OL/DL
2005 — Matt Kolford, RB/DL
2004 — Gavin Lindsay, QB
2004 — Nathan Wilcox, LB
2003 — Ramsey Miles, RB/LB
2003 — Nils Myrin, WR/FS
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.