I think you've got to earn the respect. I don't like preseason polls; I don't like predictions; I don't think they mean anything. —Coach Craig Anhder
Note: Sky View finished with a 5-6 overall record in 2012 and was fourth in Region 5 with a 2-3 record. The Bobcats lost to Orem 41-31 in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
SMITHFIELD — Cache Valley has been a hotbed for high school football for many years.
Logan High and Mountain Crest High have each established themselves among the state's elite prep programs for the past decade or more. And Sky View hasn't been too shabby, either, reaching the state playoffs seven times in the last eight years.
But just reaching the postseason isn't enough for Bobcats head coach Craig Anhder. Once he gets his team there, he wants to make some noise.
"I felt like we fell short of our abilities last year," he said of 2012, when his team finished fourth in Region 5 and had an early postseason exit, falling to Orem in the first round. "We had such high expectations, and we hope to progress a little further this year."
The expectation level for the Bobcats' program is running pretty high this year, with a couple of the league's coaches picking Sky View to take home the Region 5 title.
Coach Anhder, though, says those expectations mean nothing now — they must be earned on the field.
"I hate those kinds of things," he said. "I think you've got to earn the respect. I don't like preseason polls; I don't like predictions; I don't think they mean anything. I think you have to earn what you receive.
"I want us to earn it; I like things to be earned. I've learned in life that if you don't earn it, you don't appreciate it."
And he feels like he's got a good enough ballclub this year that the Bobcats could earn plenty of respect by season's end.
"You look at our league and a team in our league has played for the state championship almost every year, eight out of the last nine years, something like that," Anhder said. "We haven't always won it, but Mountain Crest has been there a few times and Logan has been there a few times.
"It's our turn, absolutely. I'm excited to see if we can make that run. We've got a lot of work to do. We'll see. We've got to test ourselves and see what we're all about."
This year's team will again by led by Braxton Godderidge, a senior who's the returning starter at quarterback and has displayed tremendous leadership qualities. He was voted as a team captain last year as a junior and has only gotten better in every way since then.
He'll be backed up by sophomore Garrison Beach, who Anhder says is an up-and-coming star.
Senior running back Dane Anderson is a big, strong runner who's well more than than 200 pounds with good speed and will carry the load for the Bobcats' ground game.
"Our sophomores are scared to death to play against him in practice," Anhder said with a chuckle.
Senior center Chandler Beutler is the man in the middle of the Bobcats' offensive line, and he'll be flanked by senior guard Seth White, a returning starter who's had offers from Navy and Army, and senior returning starter Caden Didericksen. The offensive tackles will be sophomore Colton Durrant and junior Tyler Downs.
On the defensive line, the tackle positions are up in the air, with Durrant and Downs both in the mix. At defensive end, sophomore Max Christensen and junior Ben Wattyne will be the starters.
Robert Ercanbrack is a senior returning starter at linebacker, where Anderson will also start.
Strong-legged senior soccer player Zayden Clark will handle the place-kicking chores.
The league looks mighty tough again this season, with Mountain Crest and Logan as strong as usual and Box Elder bringing back a ballclub that could contend for the region crown. Roy is also much-improved from years past; Bonneville's bid could be bolstered by a new coaching staff; and league newcomer Ogden High will be aiming to ambush anyone who overlooks the Tigers.
"I think the league's gonna be tough," Anhder said. "Obviously Mountain Crest (which lost in last year's 4A final) is gonna be tough again. They're gonna have a strong running game. You know that. They've got a great O-lineman (Kyle Christiansen) that's committed to the University of Utah; they've got their running back (Gaje Ferguson) that's really good that played a lot last year; and we know they're gonna be a force to be reckoned with.
"And we know Logan's gonna throw the ball a lot, like they always do. Box Elder will be tough, and I think Roy's gonna be pretty good, too. I think Freddie Fernandes has got those guys dialed in. He had 'em playing hard last year and he brings back some more talent this year, so I think they're gonna be pretty good."
But the Bobcats have their own sights set on a higher rung of the league ladder this season, and, if they can clinch their customary state playoff spot, they're definitely aiming to be more than a one-and-done postseason team this time around.
Sky View Bobcats at a glance
Coach: Craig Anhder begins his ninth season as head coach of the Bobcats, where he has compiled an overall record of 54-35 and has guided them to seven state playoff appearances in his first eight years as a head coach.
(5 returning starters; spread)
Senior quarterback Braxton Godderidge is the returning starter and a tremendous leader who will rally the Bobcats around him, and senior running back Dane Anderson is a 200-plus-pound load who will have defenders cringing when he comes barreling out of the backfield. Seniors Justin Evans, Christian Fife and Logan Miller head up the receiving corps, and seniors Chandler Beutler, Seth White and Caden Didericksen will anchor the O-line for a program that always seems adept at putting points on the scoreboard.
(5 returning starters; 4-2-5)
On the defensive line, senior linebackers Robert Ercanbrack and Anderson will be key players in the Bobcats' 4-2-5 scheme. The front four will be a young group of starters, including sophomores Colton Durrant and Max Christensen and juniors Tyler Downs and Ben Wattyne, while the secondary will feature seniors Logan Miller, Christian Fife, Josh Nieman, Beau Walker, Dillon Smith and junior Levi Hammer. Sky View will be aiming to improve on last year's porous defensive performance, when the Bobcats allowed an average of almost 33 points per game to Region 5 foes and nearly 30 points per game overall to their opponents.
Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Fifth
Bottom line: The Bobcats have watched their Cache Valley rivals Logan and Mountain Crest make deep postseason runs over the last dozen years, with Logan winning four state championships since 2000 and Mountain Crest claiming the crown once and reaching the title game two other times since 2010. Now the Bobcats feel like it's their turn to not only reach the state playoffs but to make some noise once they get there. Their region schedule is very favorable for a strong finish, with road games against two of the league's lesser teams in Bonneville and Ogden and home games against favored Mountain Crest and highly regarded Box Elder and Roy. They'll make the short trip south in early October to face cross-county rival Logan in a game that could go a long way in determining each team's possible playoff seeding — not to mention bragging rights for another year.
Sky View coaching history
2005-current — Craig Anhder (54-35)
2004 — Dan Cox (4-7)
1999-2003 — Perry Christiansen (17-34)
1993-1998 — Doug Snow (19-36)
1990-1992 — Bill Brechler (12-16)
1983-1989 — Jan Hall (27-41)
1981-1982 — Jack Robinson (16-4)
1978-1980 — Doug Adams (9-19)
1968-1977 — Earl Lindley (58-30-3)
1964-1967 — Glen Oliverson (8-21-5)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Nelson Griffiths, K
2008 — Eric Berntson, DL
2008 — JD Falslev, Specialist
2007 — Adam Weston, LB
2007 — McKade Brady, DB
2006 — Jase Hill, QB
2006 — Britain Martin, WR
2006 — Chad Champlin, LB