Prep football: Alta Hawks preview

Alta’s team statistician was kept busy during coach Alema Te’o’s second year, when he led the Hawks within a win of the Class 4A state championship game.

It started with Josh Davis, who rambled for 2,645 yards in his senior year.

“Once-in-a-career type of back,” Te’o said.

But that wasn’t all.

Quarterback Will Dana threw for 3,595 yards and receiver Zach Engstrom topped the 1,000-yard mark — and both are back.

“That’s a credit to our offensive coordinator, Riley Jensen, for us to be able to run for as many yards as we have and be able to pass as much as we have,” Te’o said.

The Hawks are looking to make an improvement defensively, where they sometimes broke more than bent last season, giving up at least 48 points three times.

“Physically, I feel like we’re heading in the right direction,” Te’o said. “We’re not where we need to be, but I feel as a program we’re where we need to be going. Going into the third year, it feels a little easier. The kids understand their expectations. I think they’re lining up a little bit quicker than the previous two years.”

ALTA HAWKS <br>Coach • Alema Te’o, third year <br>Last season • 11-2, 6-1 in Region 7; Advanced to Class 4A state semifinals <br>State championships • 1983, 1988, 2007, 2008 <br>Other title game appearances • 1984, 2006 <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • Lehi, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • Woods Cross, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • at Taylorsville, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 9 (Sat.) • at Liberty (Nev.), 4:30 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • at Cottonwood, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • at Timpview, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • Jordan, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Corner Canyon, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 18 (Wed.) • at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Behind center • With Davis gone, the Alta running attack will fall to a pair of juniors who are getting collegiate attention and one transfer. Engstrom (6 foot 1, 200 pounds) and Tu’u Afu (6-1, 215) both had 40 rushing attempts in 2016, and the offense’s composition could alter significantly if Engstrom, who had 60 catches as a slot receiver, gets the nod. But look for Stansbury transfer McCoy Didericksen (5-9, 175) to get an opportunity after he ran for 947 yards as a Stallion last year. The constant in the backfield is Dana, who burned defenses for 42 touchdowns last year. “Will had a great season. He’s mentally and emotionally prepared for this season,” Te’o said.

Ball hawks • London Rockwood (5-9, 170) is in his fourth year as a starter for the Hawks. In fact, Te’o calls him a three-way starter — offense, defense and special teams. Rockwood caught 31 passes last year, and he’ll also chase down the ball as a safety on defense. “He goes after everything,” Te’o said. “He’s fearless.” Donovan Spiller (5-9, 150) is a wideout transfer from Murray who should help. At tight end, M.J. Tafisi (6-1, 220) and Aalec Shields (6-3, 220) return for their senior campaigns, while junior Remedy Akoteu brings potential to the receiving corps.

In the trenches • One returning offensive line starter is senior Dylan Webb (6-2, 210), who will line up at tackle. “He might be a little undersized, but I match him up against anybody,” Te’o said. Another with experience at guard on the offensive line is junior Terrell Lupeamanu (5-11, 260). The defensive side is more seasoned, with Shields moving up from a linebacker slot to play end. Dymente Faamafoe (6-1, 265) is only a junior at the other defensive end, while senior Singi Pututau (6-1, 290) and junior Tui Maka (6-0, 270) will be given long looks for other places along the line.

Hit men • Tafisi is entertaining multiple offers from Division I schools as he gets ready for his senior season at linebacker. He recorded 46 solo tackles and was credited with 154 assists last season. Fellow senior linebacker Mitch Medina (6-1, 225) racked up 83 total tackles in a year shortened by injury. “He’s a thumper on the inside,” Te’o said. Senior Bennett Aguirre (6-0, 150) will step up from a cornerback spot to make a tackle, while safeties Siaosi Niumeitolu (6-2, 180) and Gooch Malieitulua (5-8, 170) are an effective last line of defense against foes threatening to break a long one.

Key returners • M.J. Tafisi, Sr. (LB/TE); Will Dana, Sr. (QB); Zach Engstrom, Sr. (RB/WR); Dylan Webb, Sr. (OT)

Key losses • Josh Davis, RB; Zach Alsop, CB; Landon Maxfield, WR; Mata Hola, LB

The next wave • McCoy Didericksen, Sr. (RB); Donovan Spiller, Sr. (WR); Tui Maka, Jr. (DL); Remedy Akoteu, Jr. (TE/DE)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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