Prep football: American Fork Cavemen preview

Most coaches might be a little uncomfortable if only one starter on defense was returning.

American Fork’s Aaron Behm doesn’t sport anything like Alfred E. Neuman’s “What, me worry?” posture, but he is confident given the overall talent in the Cavemen program.

“I wouldn’t say concerned,” Behm said. “You’d always like to have experience, but you’ve got guys that have been waiting their turn.”

American Fork has seven returning starters on offense from a team that streaked through 2016.

The campaign started with five wins in its first six games, with only a loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) to break it up. Then came a stretch of three defeats in four games, which forced American Fork to win a play-in game against Herriman just to get into the playoffs.

Once there, American Fork posted convincing wins over Roy and Syracuse to get to the Class 5A state semifinals. The roller-coaster ended with a loss to Lone Peak one game shy of the championship.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum coming off of last year,” Behm said. “A lot of juniors who had a great experience in the regular season and the postseason, and they’re hungry to get back to work.”

AMERICAN FORK CAVEMEN <br>Coach • Aaron Behm, eighth year <br>Last season • 9-5, 3-3 in Region 4; Advanced to Class 5A state semifinals <br>State championships • 1961, 1962 <br>Other state title game appearances • 2014 <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • at Weber, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • Timpview, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • at Servite (Calif.), 5 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • Herriman, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • Westlake, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • at Lone Peak, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • Granger, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • at Pleasant Grove, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Bingham, 7 p.m.

Behind center • Bronson Barron (6 foot 3, 210 pounds) threw for 3,357 yards as a junior and is back to quarterback the Cavemen. “We were still pretty balanced,” said Behm, as the rushing numbers of graduates Christian Snowden (1,048 yards) and Samuel Walker (468) bear that out. Behm will look to senior Boston Taylor (5-11, 175), senior Scotty Buhler (5-10, 180) and sophomore transfer (from Texas) Zion Fonua (6-2, 215) to carry the load at running back.

Ball hawks • Senior Farrell Dean (6-1, 200) and junior Chase Roberts (6-4, 180), a BYU commit, were two of many to get the widely distributed receiving yardage from Barron a year ago. Both will go wide in the Cavemen spread offense, while senior tight end Mitchell Johnson (6-2, 190) and senior slot receiver Ty Traveller (5-10, 155) will present more targets. Also look for Idaho State commit Jeff Harris (5-10, 175) to be a consistent option after blossoming in the offseason. Behm calls free safety Boston Taylor (5-10, 160) “the definition of a ball hawk.” He will join fellow senior Andrew Mathis (6-0, 155) defensively in tracking down opposing passes, as well as cornerbacks Traveller, Harris and senior Denver Christiansen (5-10, 165).

In the trenches • The Cavemen should be solid up front with three starters back on the offensive line. Senior Braydin Shipp (6-7, 300) is a load at left tackle, while senior Ian Filoso (6-4, 300) is back from a broken foot at center. Meanwhile, senior Bradon Adair (6-2, 240) is a returning starter at a guard spot. The one defensive regular back is junior Jonah Leung-Wai (6-2, 300), who started every game at nose guard. Senior defensive end James Vanderbeek (6-3, 225) didn’t play last year but is “a really good athlete and super-hard worker,” according to his coach, who also has extra personnel in senior Blaze Fonua (6-2, 305) and senior Wyatt Robinson (6-3, 230) who can play on either side of the ball.

Hit men • Behm has a slew of choices for the tacklers in the middle, but all of the available players are new. Seniors Dallin Price (6-2, 200) and Easton Adamson (6-3, 215) will man the outside linebacker spots. At inside linebacker, junior Tanner Vickers (6-2, 210) did see some playing time last year, while senior long-snapper Jake Bernardo (5-10, 165) and junior Brock Hughes (5-10, 165) also will line up inside. “I like our chances,” Behm said. “I like our mentality. I like the way we work.”

Key returners • Bronson Barron, Sr. (QB); Farrell Dean, Sr. (WR); Jonah Leung-Wai, Jr. (NG); Braydin Shipp, Sr. (OT)

Key losses • A.J. Jaecke, SS; Brandon Bowen, LB; Christian Snowden, RB; Samuel Walker, RB

The next wave: Zion Fonua, Soph. (RB); Mitchell Johnson, Sr. (TE); Chase Roberts, Jr. (WR); James Vanderbeek, Sr. (DE)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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