WASHINGTON TERRACE -- Tradition is what many high school teams can only hope for. Building a tradition is an entirely different task.
Restoring tradition, all you need is the right coach in the right frame of mind who comes from tradition to get your program back on track.
Enter Tyler Gladwell.
The Bonneville Lakers spent last season struggling through a variety of problems including learning new offensive and defensive schemes and it ended up costing them a chance to make the playoffs. So, athletic director Mike Russell and the school set out to fix things and it started with Gladwell.
A former Laker great at quarterback, Gladwell learned from some of the best in the business, including former coach Thom Budge, who passed away in 2009 from a heart attack. Gladwell also had success as a quarterback at Weber State. He spent the past few seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Davis Darts.
However, this was a new challenge for him that he couldn't pass up.
"This is a great experience for me to come back and generate some excitement around a great program," Gladwell said. "It's exciting for me to come back and give these kids a great experience. It's the type of experience that I got here at Bonneville and I want to pass on to them. The reason I came here was because I was able to get started in January here at the school, get the football class up and running, and start changing the things that needed to be changed."
"The other thing that I really am excited about is our staff here at Bonneville. I have nine assistant coaches that are all former Lakers and have been through the program and know what it takes to get back to winning and back to the tradition set here by coach Budge."
Gladwell has his hands full and a tough road ahead, but has a few key players that will be looked upon to be the leaders of this year's Lakers.
Running the show from under center is senior quarterback Braxton Stofferahn. Stofferahn steps in to what Gladwell consideres to be a basic offense that is his own with some of the old stuff from the early days of coach Budge.
"I like what he brings to the offense and he has a bunch of weapons that he can get the ball to," Gladwell said.
Helping him out will be returning players Andrew Croyle, Colby Bedford, Brock Kap and Jaydn Peck. All four of these players bring varsity experience in the backfield as well as defensively and each will be asked to lead a balance of seniors and younger players. Expect coach Gladwell to put these four guys in positions to make plays at any time during the game.
The offensive line also has some key players that will be looked to in order to protect Stofferahn and provide holes for those players to make plays. Led by the likes of senior Wilson Atagi and his brother, sophomore Ethan Atagi, the line is starting to take shape and is coming together to get things rolling. Joining the brothers on the line will be seniors Dustin Wood, Kiefer Halterman, Seth Schreyer and Sage Zisumbo.
Defensively, the Lakers return five starters on defense which should help Gladwell and his staff keep games close. The leaders of the defense include Kap and Croyle, each of whom started last season for Bonneville. Up front, Gladwell will ask a lot of Mario German and Dominic Barela while Zack Scott, a returning starter, and Bryson Bell will take up some of space at the defensive end positions.
Taking up the defensive backs duties will be senior returning starter Tucker Redd, junior Mitch Westmoreland as well as Casey Black, Braxton Doutre and Jordan Jarvis. These players provide depth and will add stability to a great defense.
"I want to be able to use the players that played last year and draw from their experience," Gladwell said. "If I can do that and use the coaching staff that we worked hard to assemble, everything should be great for this year."