OGDEN -- Can momentum carry through a long offseason?
Ogden football coach Troy Kolan thinks it does.
Despite losing their final four games of the season -- including a 43-0 drubbing at the hands of Delta in the first round of the state 3-A playoffs -- the Tigers were happy just to qualify for the postseason. That, specifically, is the momentum Kolan is referring to.
"Obviously, we weren't happy to lose those games, but just making the playoffs, with the amount of young players we had gave us a positive outlook for this season," Kolan said. "This year we want to take the next step and maybe make a run deep into the playoffs by winning a few games."
Ogden, which has seen four different head coaches since 2003 has found renewed stability under Kolan, who enters his third season at the helm of the Tigers. He has five wins under his belt through his first two campaigns, gradually assembling a program built on discipline and efficiency.
He hopes to match his career total in this season alone.
"This is a group that can do it if they keep working hard," Kolan said. "I think they've bought into the system by now, and its already to the point where they are making their own calls and their own reads."
To do that, the Tigers will depend on experience up front. All four of Ogden's returning starters on offense are on the offensive line, including three-year starter Brian Saunders. Lining up next to him will be two-year starters Usep Uscanga and Tino Reyes. At tight end, the Tigers also return senior tight end Larry Rodriguez, who also figures to start at defensive end.
At the skill positions Ogden is stocked with fresh faces. Other than sophomore running back Josh Shackleford, who took over the starting spot midseason in 2011, the Tigers will try to blend the new with the old. Junior Michael Richardson will assume play-calling duties at quarterback, while seniors Yopu Brian and T.J. Mafi will see significant playing time at receiver. Sophomore Blake Harvey, junior Cooper Ferrario and senior Ethan Vosburgh also will play at wideout.
"Michael (Richardson) will do just fine," Kolan said. "He's one of the most athletic kids on the team and he has what it takes upstairs, too. He's a 4.0 kid, so he's really smart. He's already doing a good job leading the group."
On defense, Rodriguez and Saunders will anchor the line at defensive end. Uscanga and Brian will shore up the interior in addition to two-way junior Ben Richards. Filling out the front seven will be senior Machal Kemp and juniors Colton Harvey and Carter Campbell at linebacker. Sophomore Nick Vaughn will also get playing time.
In the secondary, Richardson will start at free safety, while Shackleford will shore up the strong safety spot. Cornerback slots are still up for grabs, with a handful of players still vying for the starting jobs in camp.
If Kolan and his Tigers hope to exceed their win total (four) from last season, they will need to jump into the win column early, getting their first shot at home against Bonneville on Friday.
Perhaps then, momentum will be their ally.