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High school football: Viewmont Vikings 2009 preview

BOUNTIFUL — Brad Lloyd waited more than two decades to be a head coach after working as an assistant football coach at West High and Bountiful High.

Lloyd finally got his shot to run a program when Viewmont hired him as head coach during the winter, and he couldn't have asked for a better situation.

The Vikings are loaded, and expected to be Region 1 title contenders this season. Viewmont returns five starters on each side of the ball and is blessed with great overall team speed.

Lloyd also has four other head coaches at the school - Jeff Emery (basketball), Roger Farnsworth (baseball), Brandon Ripplinger (wrestling) and Thal Wright (track and field) on his staff.

"It's going good," Lloyd said. "Our attitude's been awesome, our effort has been great. We're in the honeymoon period."

Lloyd knows he'll have to earn more wins than losses to stay in good graces with the Viewmont community.

Fortunately, the Vikings look poised to have a big season and have the ability to make some noise in the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Leading the way for Viewmont is a solid group of linemen who bring some size and speed to their positions.

Both the Vikings' offensive and defensive lines will be anchored by Cole Jones, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 250 pounds, and J.R. Nemelka, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. They are respected by their teammates, who follow their lead in how hard they work.

With a new head coach, most of the starting positions at Viewmont are open. Two seniors — Brennon Flannery and Jeremy Lieber — are competing to be the starting quarterback.

"We have some kids that had good varsity experience," Lloyd said. "It's all wide open with the new guy here. Everybody is just vying for a spot. They all have to earn a spot."

That includes Flannery and Lieber. Flannery has quite the edge in size, as he's about 6 inches taller than Lieber. But the two have been battling it out and were about even in the competition before two-a-days began.

"They've both been working hard and doing great," Lloyd said.

Whoever wins the starting job will have some great playmakers around him. Austin Cheney, a move-in from Idaho, will play running back and defensive back and is a hard hitter. Fullback Garrett Bushman will also be a big asset in the running game.

The Vikings feature quality wideouts in Dustin Grigg and Sennett Fraughton. Sam Jensen will anchor the defense as a hard hitter and tough tackler at linebacker.

Viewmont has one of the most challenging schedules in the state. In addition to playing in tough Region 1, the Vikings play Bingham in their endowment game. They also play Bountiful on their bye week in what will undoubtedly be an emotional night for Lloyd.

"We got a heck of a schedule," Lloyd said.

The Vikings say they aren't intimidated of playing against Bingham, as the two teams played each other for conference championships back in Little League.

"We've always been rivals with them," Nemelka said. "It's going to be interesting — a lot of fun."

Viewmont Vikings at a glance

Coach: Longtime assistant Brad Lloyd will be in his first season as a head coach. He comes to Viewmont after coaching at West and Bountiful. He's been the offensive coordinator for three state champion teams — two at Bountiful and one at West.

Key Players: The Vikings will be solid in the trenches with linemen J.R. Nemelka and Cole Jones leading the way. Austin Cheney and Garrett Bushman form a bruising backfield on offense. The team has quality wideouts in Dustin Grigg and Sennett Fraughton. Linebacker Sam Jensen will be a force on defense. Brennon Flannery and Jeremy Lieber are competing to be the starting quarterback.

Strengths: Speed kills and Viewmont will have plenty of it and at all positions. The Vikings, for once, will have some decent size on their lines. They feature quality playmakers at their skill positions and should be able to keep defenses guessing.

Concerns: The team is learning a new system on offense and has yet to pick a starting quarterback. Viewmont plays one of the most challenging schedules in the state and it will have to stay healthy to contend in rugged Region 1.

Last year: 5-6, lost to Alta in the first round

Predicted Region 1 finish: Second

Postseason possibilities: This could be the year the Vikings finally break through in the playoffs. Viewmont has as good a shot as anyone in Region 1 to win the league title, and seeing the Vikings win a playoff game or two wouldn't be a great surprise.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — at Bingham, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at Weber, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — at Layton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Bountiful, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — at Davis, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — FREMONT, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Roy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com