Friday, February 8, 2013

Olympus football: 2012 season recap

The Olympus Titans came back to post another good season and the players and coaches were pretty happy about it. Here's the article that will appear in the team's 2012 football yearbook.

A pleasant late-season run
Titans keep improving and, after a 0-3 start,
force their will on others to earn a tie atop region
By Bruce Smith
            One game made the difference in the Olympus Titans’ 2012 football run.
            You know who it was. You don’t even have to think. For the fourth straight year, the Titans defeated their rival – Skyline. This year’s 27-9 victory was by the largest margin in the streak. It also helped erase a 0-3 start and earned Olympus a tie of the Region 7 crown.
            “I was pleasantly surprised,” is how coach Aaron Whitehead described the season. “They got better as it progressed. We had a senior class that provided great leadership. There’s a lot of pride in this place.”
            Olympus finished with a 6-5 overall record and was 4-1 in region. After dropping games to powers Sky View, Alta and Northridge to begin the year, the Titans came back to win six of their next seven games. They lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs to Highland.
            “I would have liked our chances if we would have beaten them (the Rams),” said Whitehead. “We could have taken that road and done some damage. We had a solid running game and played everyone tough.”
            The Titans came into the year picked to finish third in region. With just three returning starters, that seemed fair. On the bright side, Oly was able to practice on its home field (unlike most of last year) and could see its new school building progress.
            We had so much going against us experience wise,” said offensive lineman Will Christensen. “But we felt good about what we accomplished and we should have accomplished more.”
            The team earned its successes by committee. Christensen was the only first team all-state pick (Salt Lake Tribune) and Tanner Goates and Matt Steffenson were second-team selections. There were a lot of talented teams in 4A, with great athletes, and Olympus competed with its strong work ethic and never-give-up attitude.
            “We saw that from the start,” said Whitehead. “Even after we lost our first few games, we weren’t disappointed. We were seeing what we hoped. We just needed time for it to come together.”
            The Titans tied with Herriman and Skyline for the region championship. The “Senior Night” victory at home over the Eagles on a cold, rainy night was what almost every player felt was the high point.
            “Skyline was all-around our best game just because of the stage we were on during it,” said Jake Jones. “We really battled. Every sport we play Skyline in it’s always that much more important because of the rivalry.”
            Whitehead said Jones had a “monster game” against Skyline, rushing for 116 yards and 22 carries. Quarterback Corbin Anderson also played well.
            “Anderson looked like a senior leader that night,” said Whitehead. “He just kept improving and led two great comebacks near the end of the season.”
            Timpview ended up the 4A champions. The Thunderbirds and East were the dominant 4A teams. Herriman could have made the semifinals, but lost to East in the first round after the Leopards were penalized for using ineligible players and forced for forfeit four games. The Leopards were probably 4A’s second-best team.
            Jones was named Oly’s Most Valuable Player award at the team banquet. He teamed with Anthony Schoenfeld and Offensive MVP Coleman Meier to give the Titans a solid running attack. Jones led the Titans with 794 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Goates was the team’s Defensive MVP. In region play, Olympus gave up an average of 14.8 points per game. If you throw out the 42-9 loss at Herriman, the Titans allowed just one touchdown per game to region opponents.
            The loss to Highland that ended the year was disappointing, but it didn’t dampen Oly’s spirits.
            “It’s a good time to be here,” said Whitehead. “We’ve had four straight winning seasons and two region titles in a row. There’s a lot of character and the new building next year will be spectacular.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bingham band: Patrice Densley profile

In early February, I interviewed Patrice Densley, who was the Color Guard section leader for the Bingham High School Marching Band. During our 30-minute session, her exuberance was noticeable and she was a pleasure to talk to. I could just imaging her smiling the whole time. Here is the article that will appear in the Bingham band's yearbook.

Patrice Densley:
Her exuberance rubbed off on others
and gave the show something special
By Bruce Smith
            When it came time to picking a section leader for the Color Guard, leaders of the Bingham 2012 Marching Band needed someone quick – with a lot of energy.
            Patrice Densley was the profound choice. Perhaps only Miquel Lotz and David Belnap – who were co-captains – could match her speed and exuberance.
            “I’m a very happy person. That’s what everyone else should remember (about me),” she said.
            Most everyone in the 130-person band knew Densley, and having that many friends is what she appreciated most.
            All season, she literally carried the flag of the 19-person Color Guard as they ran through other sections during the show and mixed in well. They started running in August when they began learning their routes at Band Camp, and they didn’t stop until the Bands of America performance.
            “The Color Guards … we wanted to be seen,” Densley said. “The Marching Band makes the sets, but the Color Guard makes the color and we connect with the audience. It gives us a story aspect to the show.”
            Prior to each performance, they decorated themselves. The group became one personality and each was followed by the fans in the stands. If there was a mistake, it was noticed. If it was perfect, that’s how it was supposed to be.
            For Densley, that’s what made the BOA show her favorite memory.
            “It was our state competition, and it had never been done before,” she asid. “We made it to the finals we’ve never experienced that. (Band director Darin) Graber told us that other bands had been doing BOA for years and had never made it to the finals. It was a cool thing for us.”
            The celebration went on for a long time. Unlike the band, the Color Guard showed its emotions and, even months later, still relished the year’s accomplishment.
            “We had to practice a lot,” Densley said. “You have to learn how to learn quickly and coordinate your hands well. You have a lot of movement and you’re always moving something else.
            “A lot of times during practices we had to keep our spirits up, we would do fun rhymes,” she added. “ We all would ride the same bus together, which helps unity within our team. Learning how to cooperate with each other helps a lot.”
            Being the youngest of eight children, Densley already knew a lot about that. Her close-knit family liked to sing together and several of her siblings played in bands. Her older brother, Riley, was part of the Bingham Marching Band. When he graduated, Patrice followed.
            She said enjoyed being in a leadership role and figured it helped her listen to others. She also enjoyed working with Belnap, who was in charge of the weapons (wooden or plastic rifles). Belnap was the lone male the last two seasons and the duo “made a strong connection.”
            “It’s not easy carrying weapons because we’re doing so much running,” Densley said. “They’re more difficult to spin, too, and the harmful thing is hitting yourself with it. I did that many times.”
            After the marching band season, Densley continued performing with the Bingham Winter Guard and was also involved with the school choir. After graduation, she would like to go to college and become a teacher.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stansbury football: Chandler Staley profile

In late January, I interviewed Chandler Staley, a senior at Stansbury High School. He was one of several great athletes on the Stallions football team this year. Here's the article that will appear in the Stansbury football team's 2012 yearbook.

Chandler Staley:

Hard to say who was Stallions’ fastest,
but he made the most of his chances

By Bruce Smith
            The Stansbury Stallions were a competitive team. During the football season, they were across the field. Otherwise, the competition was within.
            It started in the weight room. Coach Clint Christiansen, a lifter himself, started it all when he became the team’s head coach in 2009. It was also on the practice field, where players like Chandler Staley spent hours trying to improve themselves.
            Officially, in a 40-yard race, Tyler Stevens was the fastest. In reality, Staley might have been a prime candidate.
            “Stevens, Clausing, May. It’s tough to say (who was the fastest) because all of us were good friends during the season,” Staley said. “There was a bond you make on sports team. Winning encourages it. When you’re losing, everyone wants to point fingers. When you’re winning, it definitely helps with friendship.”
            And, at least this year, Stansbury’s victories were keyed by its speed.
            “We didn’t get beat by it (speed),” Staley said. “We did a lot of work in the offseason with our track coach. He was there for motivation and he kept us going 100 miles per hour.”
            Staley’s burst made him a key contributor on Stansbury’s offense, where he carried the ball just 29 times but managed 290 yards (10.0 yards/carry) and four touchdowns. On defense, he had 56 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, and three interceptions.
            “We did a lot of workouts, even prior to the season,” he recalled. “Every team conditions, but we started working on speed and then, during the season, upkeeping it. I was able to run down some kids on pass patterns and knock the ball down, if not intercept it.”
            Staley was a three-sport letterman at Stansbury, competing in football, baseball and track and field, where he joined several football teammates in running the 100 and 200-meter sprints.
            “We all compete pretty well,” he said. “It’s hard to say (who’s faster).”
            Staley said his football highlight this was season was a 66-yard touchdown run at Park City, where he broke two or three tackles and then broke into a clear.
            Staley often ran on sweeps. He said the Stallions’ option offense is based on repetition and he had a plan every time he touched the ball.
            “The other slot (running back) guy (Dacota Case or Tyler Stevens) is coming around and blocking the outside linebacker. There’s also a wide (Cole Merseth) and he’s bocking the corner. I’m just reading their blocks and cutting off them.
            “One of their guys finally grabbed me and tackled me as I was going into the end zone,” he said of the Park City touchdown run. “I didn’t celebrate much. It wasn’t too exciting (the TD came late in the game of a 42-7 win).”
            Staley had 104 yards on just three carries that night. It was his season high in a mixed year that had games where he carried the ball anywhere from 1-6 times. In the 3A playoff opener against Union, he ran just twice, but scored touchdowns on each occasion.
            Other football highlights included:

                * - Beating Desert Hills 12-7. Staley had five carries for 19 yards in that game. “I did OK. I contributed,” he said.
                * - Playing Tooele (a 55-0 win). Buffaloes QB Adam Mikesell was Staley’s best friend, who lived down the street from Staley, and they played baseball together.
                * - Returning an interception for a touchdown against Ogden in 2011. It was the Stallions’ first score in a 31-7 win. “It was a banana route and I jumped it as soon as the quarterback threw the ball. I caught it in the hands of the running back and I was already in stride. Nobody could catch me.”

            Overall, Staley called 2012 a good season, but he’ll always regret the loss to Dixie in the second round of the 3A playoffs. The Stallions came into the game undefeated.
            “I thought we would at least go to (Rice-Eccles Stadium),” he said. “Opening kickoff, they took it back for a touchdown and the momentum was theirs most of the game. (The loss) really didn’t hit me until the locker room. It was sad, plenty of tears, even from the younger classmen. It affected us all.”
            The sorrow was gone by the team banquet, which Staley called a great event. He said he hoped to continue playing football in college, but no further information was available at press time.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Olympus football: Jake Jones profile

In early February, I interviewed Jake Jones, who played fullback and defensive end for the Olympus High School (Utah) football team. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 yearbook.

Jake Jones:
Titans counted on him to lift them
from their early season woes

By Bruce Smith
            Jake Jones didn’t have to think long to name the turning point of the Olympus Titans’ 2012 football season.
            “I’ll always remember the Skyline win because it was Skyline,” he said. “But the turning point was Westlake. Definitely Westlake.”
            Jones started at fullback and defensive end for the Titans and, as one of just three returning starters, he seemed to be always in the middle of the action. He said some of his friends at school had started to doubt the team because after it had dropped its first three games of the season.
            The school, however, had a strong football tradition. Olympus had built three straight winning seasons and was the defending Region 7 champ.
            Some of the pressure lifted after Jones scored three touchdowns in Oly’s 42-0 win over Taylorsville, but that was a game they were supposed to dominate.
            “We were psyched,” said Jones. “Those games helped us later in the season. We knew we could play with them and were as good as any team in the state if we got it together and played our hardest.”
            The Titans’ outburst at Westlake started as soon as they got off the bus. Oly scored on the game’s first possession and never looked back.
            “That was when our team really came together,” Jones said. “That was when we started going. They were a tough team, but we just played well. It got our confidence up.”
            Jones followed the Taylorsville game with the best outing of his career. Quarterback Corbin Anderson picked up some confidence, handing off to Jones, Coleman Meier and Anthony Schoenfeld. Meier’s 26-yard run started it all and Oly rolled to a 26-6 win.
            Jones finished 210 yards and also had a couple of sacks on defense. It was the start of four wins in five region game for the Titans, which gave them a share of the region title. A 27-9 home victory against Skyline clinched it.
                “Skyline was all-around our best game just because of the stage we were on,” recalled Jones, who led Titan rushers with 116 yards on 22 carries. “We really battled. Every sport we play Skyline in it’s always that much more important because of the rivalry.
            “It was especially sweet for us to win because it meant that senior class at Skyline had never had at ‘The Rock’ before.”
            The victory was Oly’s fourth straight over its rival, and the Titans got to keep the “trophy” which is always housed at the school that won the game.
            “It was a great year,” Jones said. “I had a lot of fun doing it.”
            Coming in, Jones didn’t know what to expect. With all three starters being running backs, the backfield was a key point. Jones said he was asked to mostly run between the tackles, while Meier and Schoenfeld used their speed to go wide.
            “It worked out well,” he said. “We’d block for each other and, when opponents keyed on me, they could get loose. When they keyed on them, I would have good games.”
            That teamwork built the camaraderie between them. Jones finished the year with a team-high 785 rushing yards, while Meier and Schoenfeld combined for about the same amount. Together, they easily outrushed last year’s squad. In fact, the 1,955 yards gained this season was the most in at least five years.
            “Anthony Schoenfeld was a hard worker and one of the biggest leaders of the team,” Jones said. “He and Coleman Meier made me know that I would always have to work hard and I knew I would be counted on to get get the toughest yards.”
            Jones said the defense also had players it could count on. While playing on the defensive side, he learned who else he could count on.
            “Our defensive coach – Coach (Brandon) Burt – was really observant. He’s a great coach and knew the right things to call. Tanner Goates has a high football IQ and he knew everything that was going on. We were young, but had a lot of speed. A lot of teams couldn’t match up.”
            Jones said it was a thrill to play football at Olympus and hoped to continue playing after he served an LDS Church mission.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mtn. View football: Lane Chadwick profile

In early February, I interviewed Lane Chadwick. Well, kind of. He's an interesting guy that is incredibly talented in football and wrestling. He was the dominant factor in the Mountain View (Idaho) Mavericks' defense. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 yearbook.

Lane Chadwick:
Mavericks’ top tackler let his actions
talk for him – and awards followed
By Bruce Smith

             Lane Chadwick was an enigma, except perhaps to his friends.
            For the last two years, the 6-foot, 200-pound middle linebacker was a dominant force. He was Mountain View’s leading tackler, but you would never know talking to him.
            Coming into the 2012 season, Mavericks coach Judd Benedick was looking for a defensive leader, and Chadwick did it not by talking, but by example. He anchored the Mavericks’ defense and graduated with six school records. He was named first team all-SIC twice, made second team all-state as a junior and first team as a senior.
            Opposing coaches called him big and physical and honored him this year with the SIC’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Chadwick accomplished all of that without tooting his own horn. It wasn’t his way. Actions, however, speak louder than words and there were plenty of others who did that for him.
            “He is a tackling machine,” described Benedick. “Just really solid and steady. He was a presence for us and I knew he would be there and make a tackle. He’s not a big hitter, just a really sure tackler.”
            Benedick felt Chadwick became that way because he was also a wrestler. Once he grabbed hold of someone, he never let go.
            And as soon as football ended, Chadwick was again on the mat, joining several other football players. Chadwick dropped weight quickly, and was soon down to 170 pounds. He was expected to be a big factor his senior season after taking third place (winning the consolation title) in the A-1 District 3 meet last year and taking sixth at state.
            Chadwick claimed the two sports often went hand-in-hand.
            “I use a lot of my football mentality and apply it to wrestling,” he said, simply.
            Chadwick had 130 tackles as a senior, including three sacks. He spent much of his time in opposing backfields. He said the best games of his career came against Eagle – both this year and in 2011. Not surprisingly, both were Mountain View’s biggest wins of the season.
            It seemed he saved his best efforts for the best opponents.
            “I play at the best when everyone on my team is playing at their best,” Chadwick said. “In last year’s Eagle game, Eagle was suppose to be big giants, but we ended up destroying their team.”
            Those memories helped make up for a disappointing year in 2012. The Mavericks won their last three games, including a 48-22 decision over Eagle, but still missed the postseason.
            “It went really well,” Chadwick recalled. “We all knew everyone wanted a good season, and that’s what we got. Even thought we didn’t get a shot at the playoffs, we still had a great season.”
            What made it great for Chadwick was just playing with his teammates. The long practices and weekly games playing alongside his friends are what he is going to remember most in the future.
            “I just went to practice every day with a good mentality and I was always thinking about football and how I could better.”
            Chadwick said he started playing football in fourth grade because he had been playing in his yard for many years with his dad and his older brother, Brock, who played football and graduated from Mountain View in 2011. He said he grew up playing the game and jumped at the opportunity to play for the Mavericks.
            When it ended, following the Mavericks’ 53-20 victory over Vallivue, it marked the end of an era.
            “I was really sad to see the season come to an end. Even though we didn’t make our goal, I still had the best season of my life with my friends.”

Stansbury football: Jackson Clausing profile

In late January, I spoke to Stansbury High School's Jackson Clausing. He is a remarkable athlete who made several plays they keyed the Stallions 11-1 football season. Here is the article that will appear in the Stansbury 2012 football yearbook.

Jackson Clausing:
Football, baseball challenged his mind
and he influenced Stansbury’s success
By Bruce Smith
            The Stansbury Stallions football team took a big step forward in 2011. The way it ended – with a 26-7 loss to eventual runner-up Desert Hills in a 3A playoff game burned in Jackson Clausing’s head for a long time afterward.
            He remembered thinking about the game even during the baseball season, where he pitched and played virtually wherever the coaches wanted him. Clausing said he liked baseball because it challenged him more mentally. As a junior he helped the team to a 20-6 overall record and a Region 7 title.
            But in Week 7 of the 2012 football season – and facing Desert Hills again – he was challenged just as much.
            “Beating Desert Hills this year was the high point,” he said. “It put a hop in our step. After that, we thought we could really do it (win a championship) this year.”
            Clausing was the leading rusher (68 yards) in the 2011 game. As a senior, he became more of a two-way threat. Playing linebacker and fullback, he was the Stallions’ second-leading tackler (75) and No. 2 rusher (690 yards). Perhaps just as impressive was that he averaged a phenomenal 9.1 yards per carry.
            “I was on the field all the time unless they put the JV in,” Clausing recalled. “On offense, I split time with Jesse Horowitz, so it would keep me fresh on defense.”
            Clausing said his best game was against Tooele, when he had scoring runs of 79 and 64 yards and ended up with a career-high 187 on just eight carries. But it was his defensive play that made the biggest difference in the Stallions’ season.
            Stansbury’s defense was special, holding opponents to a school record 10.5 points per game. The big feather in the Stallions’ cap was a 12-7 win over Desert Hills, a 29-28 overtime victory at Morgan and, of course, a 14-13 decision at county rival Grantsville.
            Stansbury finished the regular season undefeated, but that may not have happened if not for Clausing.
            Against Grantsville, Clausing was moved to noseguard and the Stallions were locked in a tough game. The Cowboys actually took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter. The PAT, however, ended up being the difference.
            “We had just changed that (kick-block play) that very week,” Clausing said. “We had (Allen) Havili and (Iosua) Opeta push the guards away and me and (Jaron) Moon would shoot over the center. We had a lot of success in practice, but (in practice) there are always blocked kicks.
            “No one really knew it was me that blocked it because it happened so early in the game. I didn’t get much credit for it because we didn’t know it would be the game-decider.”
            Chase Christiansen, however, tied the game with a short touchdown run in the final period and Darius Johnson’s kick cleared the uprights. Grantsville later had a chance to win the game, but a 25-yard field goal sailed wide right, perhaps due to the earlier block.
            “Our biggest rival had to be Grantsville,” Clausing said. “After that, we went out and celebrated.”
            Clausing said the biggest difference on Stansbury’s team this year was its speed. Rarely could an opposing player outrun the Stallions’ defense. Immediately after last year’s loss to Desert Hills, the Stansbury coaching staff made that a priority.
            “Speed really helped us,” he said. “It wasn’t that we had the fastest kids. It’s just that every position we had was faster. We didn’t have kids that would blow you away, but every kid was fast. We would speed and agility training with one of the track coaches (Steve Allen), and I definitely got faster.”
            Clausing hoped his added speed would benefit him again when baseball began in the spring. At press time, he had one school (Southern Virginia University) talk to him about playing football, but he wanted to keep his options open.
            He hopes to attend college and major in physical therapy. He wants his college education to challenge him as much as sports did in high school.

Olympus football: Will Christensen profile

On Feb. 1, I interviewed Olympus offensive lineman Will Christensen, who was the Titans' only member of the all-state football team (Tribune) this year. Here is the article that will appear in Oly's 2012 football yearbook.

Will Christensen:
He had confidence in Titans’ offense
and they learned to rely on him, too

By Bruce Smith

            Will Christensen had been looking forward to the 2012 Olympus football season for a long time. Three weeks into the regular season, he didn’t let the Titans’ 0-3 record bother him.
            “We’re feeling more confident than ever,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
            Christensen was an anchor on Oly’s offensive line, which had battled but never really felt burned. The Titans moved the ball, even in difficult losses to 5A powers Northridge and Alta. It was just a matter of time before they were able to consistently reach the end zone.
            “We had a rough start and it was frustrating,” Christensen said. “We felt pretty good about how we played in the second half against Alta, but we turned things up and started winning.
            “We beat Skyline, our rival, and won a share of region and that made up for what happened at the start.”
            The Titans won their first game against Taylorsville, but Christensen pointed to the Region 7 opener at Westlake to being the start of the reversal. Oly won 26-6, but Christensen remembered the game for other reasons.
            “I had a really fun time playing them (Westlake),” he said. “The only statistic I would keep is how many pancakes (blocks) I would get. It was usually 2-3 per game.
            “In our first drive, we came out and I had two in a row,” he added. “Matt Steffensen had one on the same play. That was really great.”
            It was those kinds of blocks that attracted attention. Christensen, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior, was named first team by the Salt Lake Tribune and was second team in the Deseret News. He was a good reason why, with just three returning starters and a predicted third-place finish, the Titans were able to fare so well.
            The “Senior Night” game, at home on a cold, rainy night against Skyline, was the difference. Trailing 9-0 after the first quarter, Olympus rallied for a 27-9 win.
             “That was our team’s best game,” Christensen said. “We were playing at our peak.  We had come together and everyone was feeling good.
            “It was a little bit scary at the beginning. It was hard for us to comeback after we had fallen behind. I was really proud of the way we came back, got strong and then pounded them in the second half.”
            Olympus went on to beat Woods Cross the next week in a non-region contest, but then dropped a hard-fought battle to Highland in the first round of the 4A playoffs. The loss was disappointing. However, the win over Skyline (Oly’s fourth straight) helped them deal with it over time.
            “When we beat Skyline, I started to get really excited in the third quarter when we started to score and Skyline couldn’t do anything. When the clock finally got down to zero, I remember feeling like I was on a cloud. I had never been so happy in my life.
            The rivalry is what you think about growing up. I felt like we lived up to that expectation and all that pressure lifted. Being on the field was so crazy. I felt amazing.”
            For Christensen, who had been playing football since he was 8 or 9 years old, it was also a crowning achievement. His Little League teams were always good, but never great.
            “We would always make it to the semifinals or something close, but nothing really stood out. As soon as we won the Skyline game, it felt like a championship.”
            Despite his on-field success, college recruiters weren’t following him. Christensen said he planned to go on an LDS Church mission after graduation and then attend BYU or the University of Utah. There are more members of the family in the pipeline and Christensen said they are all athletic.
            So, Olympus should be feeling just as confident in the Christensen clan as he was in the school.

About Me

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.