BOUNTIFUL — Viewmont High’s football coaches and players knew the Vikings were going to take a big hit to their team depth in 2019 a year after Farmington High opened and changed the school boundaries.
The hit has arrived and the theme around Viewmont’s practice this summer has been something like this:
“If you want to get on the field, show us something!” head coach Scott Ditty yelled to the scout defense one morning.
Ditty thinks Viewmont’s starters can compete with anyone. It’s the second- and third-stringers that need emphasis.
“It kind of makes everything a little more complicated, but I think it’s just something we gotta learn to deal with and get things clicking,” senior lineman Alex Harrison said.
The smaller team is equal parts good and bad on a day-to-day basis, hence a passionate post-practice speech one morning from Ditty, who was imploring reserve players to give every ounce of effort they have because there’s plenty of playing time available this year.
“There’s a lot more reps being taken at practice, which kind of has a toll on the body more. It’s good because guys are getting more experience and the younger guys are getting more reps,” senior Will Carter said.
Still, this is a program that’s won or shared three region titles in a row. For seniors, some of whom have been here since they were freshmen, the expectation is to win region titles and that hasn’t changed.
What sort of effect does that have for current teams?
“The people that came before, the example they set, it really carries into the next year," senior linebacker Sam Trusty said. "So obviously with me being a senior, I want to continue that legacy so I kind of model the way I try to be a leader as the people who came before.”
Trusty is the team’s leading returning tackler, having bagged 64 tackles with 13 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks last season as a starting linebacker.
If anyone has learned anything from the past three seasons, it’s to not count out Viewmont if its prospects look less than rosy midway through the season.
Consider 2018 when the Vikings were 3-3 overall and coming off a triple-overtime loss at Box Elder. They responded the next week and took out Roy 21-17, a result that ultimately created the three-way split of the region championship between VHS, RHS and BEHS.
“We really had to look deep inside of ourself and, really, it wasn’t any magical changes that we made, it was the culture and the expectation that had been developed over the last few years that enabled our kids to understand we still have a championship in our future,” Ditty said. “It fixed itself because the problems were very minor, one play goes different in (the) Box Elder (game) and we’re outright champs ... you can’t look back, you have to look forward and that culture that we developed is, ‘What’s next?’”
This year, the Vikings will lean on a solid defense and an even more solid offensive line, the latter of which is led by the most prominent college football recruit north of Salt Lake City.
Harrison, a senior left tackle and defensive lineman, has several Division-I scholarship offers with the likes of Utah, Utah State, Nebraska, Oregon, Southern California, Arizona State, Washington State and Brigham Young University interested.
He and the rest of the line will protect likely for Will Schultz, a junior quarterback in just his second year of playing football.
The line will also pave the way for a to-be-determined running back or running backs, which might sound like a concern, but Ditty recalls last summer when a kid named Robert Summerhays came out of nowhere and won the running back job a couple weeks before the season started.
All he did after that was rush for a school record 1,426 yards on 6.3 yards per carry with 15 touchdowns.
Ditty is running special teams this year for the first time in his Viewmont tenure. There's a new offensive coordinator in Nick O’Neal, who was the head sophomore coach at VHS for four seasons before going to Farmington last season and then returning to VHS.
TOUGH START: The combined 2018 record of Viewmont’s first four opponents was 26-19 and three of those games are against 6A schools.
HEY, ROOMIE! Steve Abrams is the new defensive line coach. Abrams and Ditty were roommates while playing football at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.
AN OLD REGION FOE APPEARS: This is the first time since 1992 that Viewmont and Bonneville are in the same region. They were in 4A Region 1 back then. The two schools played each other in season openers in 2013 and 2014, the only two times they’ve played in this millennium.
2018 SEASON: 7-4, 4-1 Region 5, split the Region 5 title three ways with Roy and Box Elder. It was the Vikings’ third-straight region championship. Gabe Johnson kicked a game-winning field goal to beat Provo 17-14 in the first round of the playoffs. Viewmont lost to eventual 5A state champion Corner Canyon in the next round.
2019 OPPOSITION RECORD: 50-57 (.467), but realistically it’s a lot tougher given the first month of the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Alex Harrison (LT/DL), Sam Trusty (LB), Will Carter (WR/DB), Kaden Smith (WR), Will Schultz (QB)
STRENGTHS: A fast defense
RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)
BASE OFFENSE/DEFENSE: Spread & Pro Style/4-2-5
BY THE NUMBERS
13: Tackles-for-loss made last year by returning linebacker Sam Trusty.
20: Interceptions made by the Vikings’ defense last season.
100: Length of the longest interception return for touchdown in Utah history, a record Viewmont’s Keven Jensen achieved in 1970.
Aug. 16: Northridge, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 22: at Davis, 7 p.m. (KJZZ)
Aug. 30: at Wasatch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Pleasant Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Bonneville*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: Box Elder*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Farmington*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Bountiful*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: Woods Cross*, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 16: Ridgeline, 7 p.m.
*Region 5 game