WASHINGTON TERRACE — In the process of picking the colors and such for Bonneville High’s new turf football field that was installed this summer, Lakers head football coach Jantz Afuvai had a request.
Almost daily during the construction phase, he would go out to the field and see if his request had been fulfilled.
The request: having the initials “TB” on the home sideline to signify the late, longtime Bonneville football coach and teacher, Thom Budge.
“I know that a lot of people at the district, and I know that (Principal Brock) Mitchell, had a big say in making sure that that was on the field because of how important it was to me and how important it was — I felt that it represented all the athletes that played for coach Budge for 30-plus years,” Afuvai said.
“That’s a huge deal. If we didn’t have that on the field, that’s a good way to curse it.”
Bonneville’s home stadium is already named Wallace and Thom Budge Field. But even if it needed to be spray-painted on the field, “TB” was going to be somewhere on the new turf, Afuvai said.
In the summer sun and heat, the two blue letters are indeed there on the white home sideline near the 50-yard line for all to see.
Blair Redd, who played at Bonneville in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said it was the most special thing the school and the district could’ve done to honor Budge on the new field.
Budge led Bonneville from 1975-2005, amassing a record of 237-104 with 14 region titles, four state runner-up finishes, and one state championship in 1980. When he retired after the 2005-06 school year, he was Utah’s all-time coaching wins leader. He died in 2009 of an apparent heart attack at age 65.
When former players think of Budge, sure, they think about how good the Lakers were for three decades.
“You can’t think of Bonneville Laker football without thinking of Thom Budge,” said Layton head coach Tyler Gladwell, who played quarterback at BHS in the mid-’90s. “There’s not a lot of programs in the state that have that strong of a coaching presence that goes along with their program.
“The funny thing about it is, you go to a Bonneville game and everybody in the stands would know our plays. Even our grandparents could tell us what plays we were running because that’s just how consistent he was every year, but still teams couldn’t stop it ... it would be funny because playing quarterback, I get to the line of scrimmage and the defense would yell out plays we were running,” Gladwell said.
Against the Weber County schools alone, the Lakers went 66-21 in Budge’s tenure (24-8 against Weber, 23-9 against Roy, 9-2 against Ogden, 6-2 against Fremont, 4-0 against Ben Lomond).
Mostly, though, people remember the kind of person Budge was. Gladwell said it’s a very special thing for the Lakers players now to be able to stand on a sideline with “TB” written on it.
Redd, now an assistant coach at Weber High, says he tries to emulate the type of person and coach Budge was.
Budge wouldn’t yell a lot, wouldn’t belittle players and wouldn’t put anyone down. If he ran into you years later, he’d remember your name, Afuvai said.
Also, the words he spoke were simple and had their intended effect.
“He was very quiet, very humble. So when he spoke, everybody paid attention. His demeanor and the way he conducted himself, he really wouldn’t say a whole lot. So if you dropped a pass, he would look at you and he would say, ‘You need to catch that.’ And that was the most devastating thing he would probably tell you,” Afuvai said.
Afuvai played for Budge in the 1980s, then coached with him in the early 2000s before Budge retired.
Budge’s coaching style wasn’t complicated. He’d use two running backs and a tight end on offense almost exclusively. Try and stack the box on defense? Watch out for play action. Bring your nickel or dime personnel in the game? Get ready for the run.
“It was, ‘Here’s what I do, come and stop it,’” Redd said.
After all these years, Afuvai listed off such bread-and-butter plays like “236,” “244,” “726” and “Green Tango.”
Gladwell said he could probably still draw up 244 on a whiteboard to its exact specifications. The “244” call was a simple dive running play right up the middle.
Simple, yet it stood out — just like the two blue letters that now grace Bonneville’s home sideline.
WEEK 2 GAME PREVIEWS
GAME OF THE WEEK: FARMINGTON AT SYRACUSE
Both teams won by 35-plus points last week on the back of huge offensive performances. Syracuse put up 49 points, Farmington 47. The Titans’ offense put up 395 yards on just 34 plays; the Phoenix gained 526 yards on 51 plays. This is a first-time meeting for the two newest high schools in Davis County.
BEAR RIVER AT BOX ELDER
For the 99th consecutive year, Bear River and Box Elder will meet in the Battle for the Golden Spike. Box Elder leads the all-time series 70-26-2. It’s the longest uninterrupted high school football series in the state, the most-played active rivalry and the third-longest streak between schools, according to prep football historian George Felt.
OGDEN AT MORGAN
Ogden torched Judge Memorial for 625 yards of offense last week. Morgan held Grand County to minus-18 yards last week, the seventh-lowest total in state history, according to the UHSAA record book. The last time Ogden beat Morgan was in 1968 (the Trojans own the all-time series 12-3) and the Tigers are shooting for their 450th all-time victory, according to Felt.
WEBER AT BOUNTIFUL
The last time Weber and Bountiful met was almost exactly 20 years ago in the 1999 4A state championship game, a 17-14 triumph for Weber. Otherwise, it’s the first regular-season meeting between the two teams since 1986. The Braves have an 11-6-1 series advantage.
GREEN CANYON AT BONNEVILLE
Lakers starting quarterback Brock Samuels is supposed to be ready to start this week after an injury put him on the bench last week against Hunter. Samuels got in the game late once Kamen Best went out with an injury.
AMERICAN LEADERSHIP AT BEN LOMOND
On paper, this may be Ben Lomond’s best chance to end a state-high 24-game losing streak. That’s saying something about how difficult this task is for the Scots because ALA isn’t a slouch, having just harassed Carbon for five turnovers last week. This is the first meeting between the two schools, according to Felt.
WOODS CROSS AT NORTHRIDGE
This game features two Division I college prospects: BYU lineman commit Josh Larsen (Woods Cross) and Northridge wideout Otto Tia. The defensive gameplan for the Wildcats is to obviously stop Tia (or limit him, because really, you don’t just stop Tia). The Knights, though, need to be wary of WX sophomore Luke Hyde, who racked up 159 total offensive yards a week ago.
ROY AT DIXIE
Friday’s high temperature in St. George is forecasted at 100 degrees, so Roy’s first battle is the heat. The second battle is against what is supposed to be a very good Dixie team. Third, Roy coach Fred Fernandes and Dixie coach Blaine Monkres coached together at many schools over the years and are obviously well aware of each other’s tactical preferences. This is the first meeting between the two schools in football.
FREMONT AT SALEM HILLS
Salem Hills is coming off an impressive 34-7 win over what’s supposed to be a good Mountain Crest team. In spite of a loss to Brighton, Silverwolves quarterback Mitch Stratford completed passes to seven receivers for 379 yards.
HUNTER AT CLEARFIELD
Clearfield’s task defensively is to stop a balanced Hunter team that ran 73 plays (39 passing, 36 rushing) for 414 yards on offense to beat Bonneville. The Falcons will go for their 250th win all time. Austin Call and Kevian Hardy combined for 25 tackles last week.
LAYTON AT BRIGHTON
After last Friday’s wacky comeback home win over Skyline, Layton travels to face a Brighton team that had a wacky comeback win of its own at Fremont. Key for the Lancers is replicating a defensive performance like last week’s against a Bengals’ team that put up 431 yards of offense.
LAYTON CHRISTIAN AT WHITE PINES-NV
It’s 264 miles from Layton Christian Academy to White Pines High in Ely, Nevada. That’s the second-longest road trip the Eagles will take this year, a season in which they have six road games and two home games after one of its home opponents, Altamont, dropped its football program.