BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL – The Bountiful Braves football team has appeared in the playoffs every year for the past two-and-a-half decades.
They haven’t won a state title since 2003, which saw the second of its back-to-back titles and fifth overall for the school.
Larry Wall, now entering his twenty-ninth season as football coach for the Braves, wants to change all that. He also understands that continuing the Braves’ tradition is vital as the team enters the 2013 campaign.
“Making the playoffs isn’t anything new to us,” said Wall. “Obviously we want to improve. We’ve kind of made it our goal to get back to the U. (University of Utah), and a lot of our kids that were here last season weren’t satisfied with our results.”
Part of the process to returning to the university is getting healthy, and the Braves are already on the road to doing that.
Returning from injuries this season are quarterbacks Trevor Lloyd and Jordan Hayes. Lloyd was the starting quarterback against Lone Peak to open the 2012 season, but was then on the sidelines due to a torn ACL. Hayes took his place, but was injured during the team’s rivalry game against Woods Cross.
Both are back and healthy, and both are both likely to see significant playing time this season, Wall said.
“We don’t have a clear cut starter at (quarterback),” said Wall. “They’re both good, intelligent athletes, and that’s a good problem to have. We’re also expecting both to play defense. Their football IQ is very high.”
The receiving corps is also considered an extreme upgrade to the offense, and Wall has pointed out three players who can expect some time on the field.
Ryan Curtis, now a senior, is one of them. After playing all over the field last season, Curtis is what Wall calls a “do everything kind of guy,” and is expected to play multiple positions.
“He’s played flanker and has returned kicks and played outside linebacker,” he said. “We’re expecting him to do great things.”
Tanner Redding and Sam Merrill, both listed at 6-feet, four-inches tall, are also expected to see the field. That could lead Wall to opening up his offense.
“We’re not going to change our philosophy,” he said. “But it’s going to expand it. Having three big receivers is going to allow us to throw the ball some more.”
One of the biggest question marks will be which players will play behind either Lloyd or Hayes. Jakob Hunt and Leka Nepote, two of the team’s top rushers from last season, graduated, leaving holes in Bountiful’s run-first offense.
Houston Heimuli, Mona Vea, and transfer student Max Latu are expected to fill the roles in the backfield, and Wall said Latu’s size will serve the running game well.
Another big dilemma for the Braves will be the defensive line and linebackers on defense. Brad Quick and Remington Kelly, a junior and senior, respectively, saw some time last season and are expected to anchor the defense.
“They’re both big, angry kids when they get out there,” said Wall. “Time will have to tell for the rest of the defense. We do have some players that will play on both offense and defense, and that alleviates some pressure as far as trying to fill holes.”
The Braves finished 9-3 in 2012, and were 4-1 in Region 6 play. They shared the region title with Woods Cross and lost in the quarterfinals to Mountain Crest.
Braves 2013 schedule
8-23 @ Lone Peak
9-6 @ Logan
9-13 @ Clearfield
9-20 @ Layton
9-27 WOODS CROSS
10-11 @ Cyprus
10-17 @ East