Saturday, February 2, 2013

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.

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