Prep football: Ogden Tigers preview

Ogden was a power in football at one time. The Tigers won a pair of state championships and were runner-up three other times during one 15-year stretch.

But last year marked the 50th anniversary of the end of that era — the 1966 title — and it was a season where the Tigers played an independent schedule for a consecutive straight year.

Ogden went winless for a third straight season, and its losing skid stands at 33 games.

Into all this comes veteran coach Erik Thompson after leaving a fruitful 13 years at Northridge.

“Something about it intrigued me and spoke to me,” Thompson said. “I wanted to be part of the rebirth of Ogden athletics.”

Getting athletes to play football has been a starting point, and getting back into a region, which means playoff possibilities, has helped.

“I’m excited we’re in a league now. Those are some longstanding rivalries” with Ben Lomond and Bonneville, Thompson said. “I think this year will be better. We have a handful of skill guys that can compete.”

OGDEN TIGERS <br>Coach • Erik Thompson, first year <br>Last season • 0-9 <br>State championships • 1958, 1966 <br>Other state title game appearances • 1953, 1954, 1961 <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • Judge Memorial, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • at Preston (Idaho), 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • Logan, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • at Carbon, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • at Bonneville, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • Stansbury, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • at Tooele, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • Park City, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Ben Lomond, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 18 (Wed.) • at Bear River, 7 p.m.

Behind center • Senior quarterback Carson White (6 foot 2, 170 pounds) threw for 1,099 yards and is back for another year of starting. “He’s a good passer and runner as well,” Thompson said, who also referred to his signal-caller as “supersmart.” Sophomore Chase Butler (5-10, 150) actually had 32 passes as a ninth-grader, but he’ll get a chance to shine at running back, where Roy transfer Rhyle Hanson (5-9, 165) also will get rushing opportunities.

Ball hawks • Aden Cleverley (5-10, 140) was a slot back as a junior, when he led the team with 17 receptions for 439 yards. “He’s sure-handed and smart, and he runs good routes,” Thompson said. Also in the receiving corps will be junior Irving Gastelum, who the coach says is best at making defenders miss in open territory. Basketball player Carson Warner (6-3, 175) is one Ogden athlete who has been talked into joining the football squad, and he’ll be another receiver. On defense, junior Jonah Lowry (5-8, 140) and sophomore Jeremy Jackson (5-7, 150) will try to keep the ball out of the opposition’s hands.

In the trenches • The new Ogden coach calls the line play “the key to the whole thing.” Thompson fortunately has three returning starters on the offensive line. Senior Kyle Christensen (6-0, 220) is an athletic left tackle, while senior Alfredo Munoz (6-1, 275) and senior Isaac Hernandez (6-2, 290) will be back at center and guard spots, although Hernandez also can play tackle. Christensen is expected to be a regular on the D-line at tackle, while senior Alex Drake (6-1, 190) is a strong defensive end. Alex Velasquez (5-8, 215) and Peyton Raimondi (6-3, 215) are seniors looking for expanded roles on the line. The Tigers have a valuable new resource in rugby player Tui Labaki (6-0, 240), who is out for football his senior year.

Hit men • Some of the players with the most potential on defense are switching positions. That’s partially out of need because the linebacker unit is particularly sparse when it comes to returning experience and partially to take advantage of aggressiveness. Senior Sam Lawrence (6-1, 170) is transitioning from safety to linebacker, just like fellow senior Gage Howard (5-9, 160). Both are anticipating a big increase in action after seeing limited time on the varsity last year.

Key returners • Carson White, Sr. (QB/S); Aden Cleverly, Sr. (WR); Kyle Christensen, Sr. (OT); Alex Drake, Sr. (DE)

Key losses • McKay Turpin, OLB; Dallin Shobe, RB; Miguel Gonzalez, OLB; Oscar Saenz, MLB

The next wave • Chase Butler, So. (RB/S); Carson Warner, Sr. (WR); Tui Labaki, Sr. (DT); Gage Howard, Sr. (LB)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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