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Youth movement aids Provo’s improvement

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PROVO — The Provo High football program hit rock bottom a year ago when two losses to previously winless opponents capped off a miserable 0-10 campaign.

Enter Clint Christiansen. The Timpanogos defensive coordinator hired on in early 2004 to head up the Bulldogs' rebuilding efforts. Christiansen, 34, brought with him five years of head coaching experience from his days at South Sevier in Monroe.

"I looked at Provo's baseball and basketball programs when I applied for the job," says Christiansen. "I knew there were great athletes here because those programs are so good.

"But you have a new program, new offense, new philosophies that a coach is trying to instill. It doesn't happen overnight. Rome isn't built in a day, but we work on it like it has to be."

The results, if not spectacular, have at the very least been encouraging. Provo eked out three midseason victories, and Christiansen's emphasis on discipline paid off in the form of a team that capitalized on opponents' miscues without committing too many of its own.

"We just had to get over that hump," explains Christiansen. "The kids needed a lot of discipline. That's been our big focus — discipline, both on and off the field.

"We teach them the game of football, starting with the basics. We couldn't expect miracles."

Senior Rob Argyle's leadership and steady play on both sides of the ball are invaluable but expected. The vital contributions of four sophomores, however, are a pleasant surprise that no one fully foresaw.

Quarterback Warner Jarman, running back/cornerback Austin Alder, offensive lineman Funaki Asisi and cornerback Jordan Trammell start as sophomores for Provo.

Jarman and Alder, football teammates since seventh grade, also play basketball and baseball — Jarman's a guard and pitcher, Alder a small forward and center fielder.

For Christiansen, the potential and athleticism of his young backfield duo make the possibilities seem limitless.

"Jarman makes sophomore mistakes," says Christiansen. "But he's a very talented young man. He's very quick, makes good decisions on the move, and throws the ball well.

"You figure if our Jarman is a starting quarterback for three years, by the time he's a senior he's going to be the real deal.

"Some might argue (Alder) is the best athlete in the school. He's very quick and elusive in the open field but doesn't run as strong as we want him to inside the tackles yet."

Asisi, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound mauler, primarily plays left guard for the Bulldogs.

"I was preparing all summer for this," says Asisi. "Lifting, running, getting in shape — I mean, I used to be really fat. Not being able to move, I got rid of that because I got sick of it. I used to be a lot bigger and slower."

Trammell transferred to Provo in the spring after playing freshman football and wrestling at Springville. With a nose for the ball and a penchant for playing much bigger than his listed weight of 145 pounds, he stuck in the lineup after a surprise start in the second game of the season.

"I played in the JV game at Timpanogos," recounts Trammell. "At the varsity game I knew I was just dressing up. Then (assistant) Coach Haws came up to me a few minutes before the game and said, 'I'm starting you.' I got scared, but I just went out there, and it went well."

The quartet's successes this season, along with Provo's strong sophomore team, portend well for the Bulldogs' future.

"The approach we're taking is to stay positive," says Christiansen. "We want to do the little things, give ourselves a chance to win, don't get buried early, and stay in every ballgame.

"We know the future's bright here. We'll be battling in three years. I guarantee we'll be back competing with the top teams in the state by then."