Prep football: American Leadership Eagles preview

New coach Nate Porter has been an assistant coach for American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork off-and-on over the last seven years while he’s been a clinical therapist in Springville and Provo while earning his doctorate in psychology.

Much of his recent analysis is devoted to the ALA Eagles football squad.

Among the results: The Eagles of 2016 could have had its win-loss record reversed with just a little more fortune.

“Last year, we just had a couple of games [Gunnison Valley, Layton Christian] that were decided in the last couple of minutes,” Porter said. “We easily could have been 6-4.”

With 35 athletes in the football program, Porter feels that the team is on par with the level of a year ago. But routine problems continue for the Eagles.

“It’s always a numbers game — getting kids out, getting kids to stay healthy,” Porter said.

AMERICAN LEADERSHIP EAGLES <br>Coach • Nate Porter, first year <br>Last season • 4-6, 1-4 in Class 2A North; Advanced to 2A opening round <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • Duchesne, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • Layton Christian, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • at Grand County, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • North Sevier, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • South Summit, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • at Millard, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • at Gunnison Valley, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • at North Summit, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Delta, 7 p.m.

Behind center • Senior Owen Huff (5 foot 8, 190 pounds) is a big part of the backfield puzzle after gaining more than 1,000 yards running the ball last year. He’s likely to move to fullback in ALA’s spread/wing-T formation. “He might not be the biggest kid, but he’s a north-south runner always looking for contact,” Porter said about Huff. At the wing positions will be senior Brett Staheli (5-11, 160) and sophomore Fielding Morely (5-6, 145), who will be looking for handoffs and passes from senior Ethan Morley (5-11, 190), who hasn’t played football since the ninth grade. The coach isn’t worried about his quarterback, though. “He’s progressing really well,” Porter said. “And he’s one of the most self-motivating kids I know.”

Ball hawks • Staheli actually caught the most passes for the Eagles in 2016, but he’ll occasionally need help from outside receivers. That’s where sophomore Hayden Shockley (5-10, 175) will come in. His older brother, Jackson Shockley (6-2, 180), actually could have been the quarterback once again for American Leadership, but he opted to go to tight end. “He asked for” the change, Porter said. “He’s the kind of kid that will do whatever to help the team.” Staheli’s instinct for the ball extends to the defense, where he picked off five passes while at free safety last season.

In the trenches • Senior Holland Morley (6-1, 295), Fielding’s older brother, is a returning starter at defensive tackle. On the other side of the ball, senior Trey Twitchell (6-2, 230) is a mainstay at offensive tackle. After that, it’s a rebuilding process. “He had the most experience on the line last year,” Porter said. “We’re throwing in four new starters, and it’s the same thing with the defensive line. Outside of Holland, we’re going to have three new starters.”

Hit men • Huff piled up 117 tackles, including 34 solo, as a junior inside linebacker, and he’ll be counted on to impede the progress of opponents in the center of the defense this season. Shockley also will move from offense and serve a similar function at outside linebacker. Sophomore Jacob Negus (6-1, 205) did get some time on the offensive line last year, and he could be a ball-stopper from either at outside linebacker or strong safety.

Key returners • Owen Huff, Sr. (FB/MLB); Jackson Shockley, Sr. (TE/OLB); Brett Staheli, Sr. (RB/FS); Holland Morley, Sr. (DT)

Key losses • Dallen Short, RB/LB; Mike Van Wagoner, DT; Connor Bowen, CB; Baker Henry, TE/OLB

The next wave • Ethan Morley, Sr. (QB); Trey Twitchell, Sr (OT); Hayden Shockley, So. (WR); Jacob Negus, So. (OLB/SS)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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