ALTAMONT — Four seasons ago, Altamont quarterback Bryson Foy and several of his teammates were given the "opportunity" to play significant roles on the Longhorns' varsity squad as freshmen.
It was pretty much like being thrown into a lions' den.
Though the players in Altamont's Class of 2010 had enjoyed tremendous success throughout their little-league football careers, the learning curve of varsity football proved to be a steep one, a very steep one.
"It goes from being 90 pounds and normal size to being 120 pounds and being really small — slower and smaller — and just having to deal with it," said Foy.
Now heading into their senior seasons, however, the tables have finally turned, and Foy and Co. are finally the biggest guys on the field again.
First-year coach Mick Fieldsted, who's previously filled several coaching roles at Altamont High before becoming the varsity football coach, believes all the lumps that Altamont has endured over the years with younger players will pay off this fall.
"We've got a group of seniors and a group of juniors — there's eight of 10 in each class — that have played a lot the last three years," said Fieldsted. "Last year, we only had three seniors and the year before that we only had three, so a lot of these kids have played (at least) two years of varsity. They've matured, I think, to the point where we're gonna be pretty competitive.
"They had good success when they were in the younger programs; they've just never been able to put it all together. They've always been playing guys that are older than them, but now it's their turn to be the big guys."
Neither Fieldsted nor any of his assistants were on Altamont's coaching staff last fall, but all of them are entrenched in Altamont's community and have been around the football players for a long time.
"We're all pretty familiar with these kids and what they've done in the past, as far as the coaching staff goes, so it's not like it's they're new to us and we're new to them," said Fieldsted. "My offense and some of the things that we're gonna do on defense are different, but they've had it before when they were younger."
A year ago, the Longhorns went 2-8, making game-changing mistakes in several of those defeats. To improve this fall, Foy says his team clean up turnovers, penalties and mistakes.
"Hopefully," said Foy, "we can get rid of those and have fun and play. I think that was one of our biggest things. I don't know if we were being too serious or what, but (we need to) just go out and have fun."
Altamont Longhorns 2009 prep football preview
Coach: Veteran Mick Fieldsted will lead his players as a first-year varsity football head coach.
Key players: Senior QB Bryson Foy has started for four years and will look to lead the way for the Longhorns. Behind him, Waylon Thompson will be Altamont's primary tailback. Fellow seniors Garrett Sorensen (WR/LB), Russell Brinkerhoff (WR) and Weston Burton (OL) all also have significant varsity experience and should be solid performers this fall. Big things will also be expected from juniors Zaquri Brinkerhoff (RB) and Shelby Thayne (OL).
Strengths: Altamont has experience. Lots of it. The Longhorns' players have been in the varsity spotlight for several years, and they'll hope that the experience they gleaned from previous seasons will pay off this fall. Also in Altamont's favor is the fact that it has a pretty good blend of upperclassmen and lowerclassmen.
Weaknesses: Altamont's football program has simply struggled over the past few seasons, and the Longhorns will have to overcome those previous failures to be successful this fall. There are many signs that suggest they will get it done, but they must prove it on the football field.
Last year: 2-8, didn't make the playoffs.
Predicted 1A North finish: Third.
Postseason possibilities: Altamont should be in the mix of 1A teams behind No. 1 Rich, and if the Longhorns pick up momentum as the season goes along, they could be a very tough team to beat at the end of the season.
Aug. 21 — SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at Lyman, Wyo., 7 p.m.
Sep. 3 — at Uintah JV, 7 p.m.
Sep. 11 — Bye.
Sep. 18 — MONUMENT VALLEY, 7 p.m.
Sep. 25 — at Rich, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2 — at Monticello, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Layton Christian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — at Milford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 — DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.