BOUNTIFUL — Tyler Hughes was named Bountiful’s new head football coach in April, replacing Randy Johnson. Hughes is a former college coach, having started as an assistant at Snow College back in 2004.
He worked his way to head coach of the Badgers in 2010 and left in 2013 after a wildly successful three seasons to be a quality control assistant at Ohio State. From 2014-16 he was the head coach at Division II Minot State before resigning.
Hughes was an assistant coach at Murray High for one season before heading to Ephraim, but high school head coach?
This is a first.
“When Coach Johnson stepped down, the opportunity came up and it just seemed like a good natural fit. I wasn’t actively pursuing anything and really, to be honest, I didn’t know if I would ever coach football again, but here we are,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he lives in Bountiful and has kids who go to the school, which helped him feel connected to the school and the community.
But coaching is still coaching, he said. The way he runs Bountiful’s program is no different than how his previous college programs have been run.
The drills are the same. The conditioning program is the same. The weightlifting is the same.
But it’s different for the players, who say they’re in a more “laser-focused” atmosphere. Details are especially emphasized, as is responsibility, having a great practice every day and not wasting time.
“It’s definitely a much harder working atmosphere and it’s definitely a mindset change and a culture change,” senior Joshua Welling said.
The Braves return some players from a team that nearly upset top-seeded Corner Canyon in the first round of the playoffs last year.
But with Hughes, it’s a fresh start and he’s not concerned with who started where last year. It’s all about who stood out in the summer and in fall camp.
Despite the new coaches, schemes and way of doing things, the players have adjusted well.
“(It’s) way different than any coaching I’ve ever had in the past for sure. It’s kind of cool to see the difference and how they do stuff,” said senior quarterback Brig Willard, who said Hughes is “calm, but intense.”
As far as how the team looks, there are plenty of unknowns. Historically, Bountiful’s defenses have been hard to crack and Hughes particularly likes where the linebackers are at, along with the running backs.
He says the Braves should be “solid” and able to compete for a playoff spot, but…
“That’s going to come down to the coaching staff putting the kids in the right position to be successful schematically and position-wise,” he said.
Hughes and defensive coordinator Jason Walker are both new coaches, but they’re not new to each other.
After Hughes was hired as the Southern Virginia head coach in 2014, he hired Walker as the defensive coordinator. Walker’s a former BYU player and graduate assistant, head coach at Westlake High and assistant coach at Ben Lomond.
Key stretch: Bountiful’s final three region games are at home against bitter rival Woods Cross, on the road against new school Farmington and on the road at defending region champion Viewmont.
Scheduling tough: The Braves’ non-region slate is comprised of five 6A schools, which should provide a more-than-adequate test before region play.