High school football: Bonneville Lakers 2017 preview

Note: Bonneville finished with a 1-8 overall record in 2016 and was sixth in Region 5 with a 0-5 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.

Bonneville 2016 Offensive and Defensive Stats

WASHINGTON TERRACE — Jantz Afuvai proudly bleeds Bonneville High blue and gold.

Always has, ever since his days as a star football player for the Lakers during the late 1980s. And he always will.

That’s why now, in his fifth season as the Lakers’ head coach, he is more determined than ever to get this once-proud program’s sagging football fortunes headed back in the right direction.

And this season, he feels like he has the team that’s capable of doing just that.

“The leadership that I have this year is second to none. I don’t recall having this many leaders who are willing to not only talk the talk but, more importantly, walk the walk,” he said. “They’re willing to put the time in, and I have pushed ’em so hard this past year.

“Really the biggest thing we took away from the last two years was the quality of football we played against (in Region 5) was second to none. So we capitalize on that experience this year. We’ve played against the best; our kids were young, and what I’m really hoping for is that, on Friday night lights, we don’t have any deer-in-the-headlights type of reaction because these guys have been playing, a lot of them, on Friday nights since they were sophomores.

“And now they’re seniors, and so a lot of my expectations this year for us to be successful are based on the fact that they have been willing to put their time in; I’ve pushed ’em as hard as I can, I feel like I’ve hit all the benchmarks that we need to offseason to really improve the mental side of things, and I’m excited to see how these guys roll,” Afuvai said.

Much of his optimism is based on the fact that the Lakers not only have 16 returning starters from last year but, after winning just one game in 2016, his players have shown the type of dedication and determination it will take to turn this program around.

“Sixteen returning starters, I’ve never had that, and they’re legit. They can ball,” Afuvai said. “I’m really excited about our depth, plus we’ve got a bunch of puppies that played a lot…

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