Note: Ben Lomond finished with a 0-10 overall record in 2017 and was sixth in Region 11 with a 0-5 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
OGDEN — How does a high school football program bounce back from a winless season? A campaign that followed what had been the school’s most successful season in more than a decade.
How does a coach, players or a team move on from something like that?
That is the question bedeviling the Ben Lomond Scots entering this 2018 season.
Or rather it would have been, had they waited until summer to address last season’s debacle.
As it turns out, they only waited until January.
It was then that, unprovoked and unsolicited from their coaches, a handful of Ben Lomond players took to the practice field, determined to put 2017 behind them.
“This is the most kids that I’ve had that come out and do stuff on their own,” Ben Lomond head coach Casey Alder said. “They are out here early and will stay late. A couple of them have been coming out here on the field since January.”
The result has been something unique, which can only benefit the Fighting Scots.
“Our team is really united. There is a good brotherhood,” Alder said. “They are really taking care of each other and helping each other out with a lot of the challenges that we have. The kids are lifting each other up.”
That bond between players has allowed Alder and his coaching staff to institute things they haven’t before. Changes that are already making an impact, with a return to winning looking more and more likely on the horizon.
“We’ve done more this offseason than we ever have,” said Alder. “We have focused more on technique and fundamentals, the skill aspects of the game. These kids are extremely motivated. My seniors are extremely motivated to make the most out of their senior year, regardless of what happened last year, or in the years previous. They want to get the most out of their season and they are realizing that time goes fast. You don’t get days back and they are making the most out of every day. It has been exciting to see their growth and maturity and the leadership evolve.”
That growth will be essential for Ben Lomond, as many of the teams players, while athletic and gifted, are raw when it comes to football.
Of course for Alder that simply allows him to do what he believes in the most, getting the most out of each and every player.
“I alway have the same goal, to get these kids to reach their potential. To go above and beyond what they thought was possible. That is why we work as hard as we do. We challenge them mentally and physically. I tell them the one thing that is in their control is how good they become.
“You are going to have physical limitations. You might be outmanned at times, but we can become the best we can possibly be. That goal is always in reach. I don’t know where we are going to be at the end of the season, but if we do everything we’ve worked on and if we can count on everybody, we will get there.”
Scots at a glance
Coach: Eric Alder is entering his fifth season as Ben Lomond's head coach. Through the four previous seasons Alder’s Fighting Scots compiled a 10-31 overall, a 0-1 record in the playoffs. He's a graduate of Sky View High School in Cache Valley as well as Utah State University.
Ben Lomond Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Eric Alder
2018 offensive production: 12.6 ppg (24th in 4A)
- 6 returning starters
- Spread offense
Key offensive returning starters
- Zander Caffall (RB): Was the Fighting Scots premier rusher last season, racking up 474 yards on 121 carries. His three touchdown runs were tops among all Ben Lomond players.
- Tre Pearson (WR): One of just two Ben Lomond players to haul in a touchdown reception in 2017, Pearson totaled 136 total yards on 14 receptions.
Returning offensive starters
- Tre’ Pearson (WR)
- Nykolas Guzman (QB)
- Stephon Watson (WR)
- Zander Caffall (RB)
- Ian Gray (OL)
- Jon Sanchez (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Nykolas Guzman (QB)
- Colton Thomas-Wolfe (OL)
- Izail Tolentino (WR)
- Carlos Rosas (RB)
- Ty Esquivel (WR)
- Xavier Pringle (OL)
- Mckiel Levi (WR)
Alder’s comments on quarterback Nykolas Guzman:
“Guzman is going to be our quarterback. He quarterback played a fair amount at receiver last year. He has worked really hard on his game, especially the fundamentals of playing quarterback. We are going to be in a spread no huddle offense and try to go at a higher pace this year, so we are going to put a lot of responsibility on him. He needs to determine where the ball is going to go. He has to read the defense essentially on every single play, run or pass. We just want to try to take advantage of what the defense gives us.”
Alder’s comments on running back Zander Caffall:
“I think Caffall is poised to have a good year. He has worked as hard as anyone in the weight room and on the field this offseason. He looked real good this summer in camp. He is moving as well as I have ever seen him, with his agility and ability to make plays at running back.”
Alder’s comments on wide receiver Stephon Watson:
“Stephon Watson played a lot at safety and receiver for us last year. I think he gives us some size and length at outside receiver that we haven’t had here since I’ve been here. He has worked hard, and he has great ability to high point balls and get open. Stephon is a strong kid, an aggressive kid.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:
Aside from in the trenches, where truthfully every single football game is won or lost, the Fighting Scots season, on offense, will come down to Guzman. Transitioning from wide receiver, Guzman will have nearly complete control of the Ben Lomond attack at all times. His decision-making will be vital to any and all success the Fighting Scots have. Zander Caffall should have another great year at running back, and Ben Lomond has weapons on the outside in Stephon Watson, Tre’ Pearson and Ty Esquivel. It’ll be up to Guzman to get them the ball in the best positions.
Ben Lomond Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Bret Barker
2018 defensive production: 28.7 ppg (15th in 4A)
- 4 returning starters
- 4-3 defense
Key defensive returning starters
- Nykolas Guzman (DB): Racked up 41 tackles and an interception last season, tops among all returners. His best performance came against Tooele, where he recorded nine takedowns and a pick. -- Stephon Watson (DB): Second to Guzman in tackles amongst returners, Watson totaled 29 in 2017, along with a team-high two interceptions.
Returning defensive starters
- Stephon Watson (DB)
- Tre Pearson (DB)
- Nykolas Guzman (DB)
- Nate Woods (LB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Davion Saulsberry (DL)
- Izail Tolentino (DB)
- Carlos Rosas (DB)
- Abraham Odeh (LB)
- Giovanni Martinez (LB)
- Xavier Pringle (DL)
- Mckiel Levi (LB)
Alder’s comments on new defensive scheme:
“We are transitioning to more of a 4-3 look, with four down lineman with their hands in the dirt. We are going to try to be physical and aggressive. Overall I feel good about our athleticism at every position on defense. We have good athletes. We just have to put it together. That being said it all comes down to one thing, regardless of the scheme. Tackling. That’s what it comes down to.”
Alder’s comments the defensive line:
“Xavier Pringle is going to be a leader there. He is a real explosive athlete. He needs to put it all together, learn to hone in his skill and be fundamentally sound, but he is a real athletic kid. He is our strongest kid by far. He leads the way in the weight room. He can make plays, he just needs to learn how to. We also have Hugo Saucedo. Neither one of those kids are very big, but they are stout, strong and explosive.”
Alder’s comments on the Fighting Scots' linebackers:
“We have a good group at linebacker. Nate Woods started a couple of games last year. He is an undersized kid, but is extremely smart. He reads offenses and the guards really well. He drops into pass coverage really well. He can have a good year. Gio Martinez is new to the program in general. He hasn’t played since he was a freshman in California. He is a good athlete who is going to kick for us, but we are teaching him to play linebacker. I think he can make some plays there. And then there is Mckiel Levi. He is going to be solid for us on both sides of the ball — he’s a good possession receiver with great hands — but he played really well at linebacker this summer.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:
Much of the Ben Lomond defense is unknown, with raw, athletic players assuming important roles. The defensive line is perhaps the biggest question mark, just with the lack of experience. If Xavier Pringle and Hugo Saucedo can catch on quickly, however, that group could become a strength. The linebackers are solid, perhaps the most solid group on the entire team, and the secondary more than a few options. All told, the Ben Lomond defense must learn discipline and improve its technique, because the raw potential is there.
Coaches preseason Region 11 straw poll: Sixth
Deseret News Region 11 prediction: Fifth
Key Region Game: vs. Stansbury, Oct. 5 (Week 8)
It’s a new season in Ogden and the Fighting Scots are leaving behind any and all memories from a forgettable 2017 campaign. This team has talented football players. The only issue is many are inexperienced, or new to the game. Nykolas Guzman will have the weight of the offense on his shoulder, with some help from Zander Caffall, while the defense may be able to spread the load a little more effectively. If the team can play to its potential, or even overachieve, Ben Lomond will surprise some people. If the Fighting Scots don’t make good on all of their work this summer, it will likely be another long season.
- Aug. 17 —PAYSON, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — MORGAN, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — at Juab, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Park City, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at Tooele, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — STANSBURY, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 11 — at Ogden, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 17 — at Green Canyon, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Ben Lomond
All-time record: 177-429-9 (65 years)
Region championships: 3 (1965, 1967 co, 1985 co)
Playoff appearances: 12
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2017)
All-time playoff record: 10-12
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-3
Most played rivalry: 68 meetings with Ogden dating back to 1953. Ogden leads 47-22.
Felt’s Factoids: The winner of the Ben Lomond-Ogden game claims the Iron Horse — one of just seven traveling trophies currently being contested in Utah prep football. Seven of their 68 matchups have gone into overtime, the most between any two teams. ... Ben Lomond's Emmett White holds the state record for all-purpose career yards with 8,532 set from 1994-97. He also returned seven kickoffs for touchdowns during his career, another Utah prep record.
- 2017 — 0-10 (0-5 in Region 11 – Missed playoffs)
- 2016 — 5-6 (2-5 in 3AA North – 3AA First round)
- 2015 — 4-6 (1-5 in 3AA North -- Missed playoffs)
- 2014 — 1-9 (0-6 in 3AA North -- Missed playoffs)
- 2013 — 0-10 (0-6 in 3AA North -- Missed playoffs)
Ben Lomond coaching historyComment on this story
- 2014-current — Eric Alder (10-31)
- 2013 — Aaron Dooley (0-10)
- 2012 — Bill Mierzejewski (0-9)
- 2011 — Don Kenyon (2-7)
- 2007-2010 — Jeff Kilts (6-34)
- 2005-2006 — Nick Howell (4-16)
- 2003-2004 — Art Burtenshaw (6-15)
- 2000-2002 — Aaron Tillett (10-22)
- 1997-1999 — Guy Andersen (11-18)
- 1995-1996 — Garry Walker (1-17)
- 1991-1994 — Roger Howell (9-27)
- 1989-1990 — Jerre Holmes (4-15)
- 1984-1988 — Ralph Johnson (18-33)
- 1983 — Holger Hansen (5-6)
- 1976-1982 — Brent Belnap (28-38)
- 1963-1975 — Al Kapp (35-74)
- 1953-1962 — William "Twist" Jones (28-57)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2016 — Deontay Nish, WR
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.