On the eve of their senior seasons, both players believe the current edition of West Jordan football is ahead of where it was at this point when they freshmen, sophomores or juniors. And they're hoping that will help translate into success on the football field when the 2009 season commences next weekend.
"I just feel that every year the team has progressed since I've been here, and this year is by far and away the furthest we've been coming into the season," said Christensen. "It's early, and we haven't played a game yet, but there's better chemistry up to this point. Things are working better.
"It seems that things are gonna turn out a lot better this year."
When Christensen and Van Komen came into the program as freshmen, West Jordan was coming off a trip to the 5A semifinals and expectations were through the roof. On the field, however, the Jags struggled mightily that fall, and Christensen and Van Komen have been helping to build the team back up since then.
"Coming in (as freshmen), we had a lot of talking, but nobody really performed," said Van Komen. "And then we've kind of worked on going back to the old ways — keep to yourself, help the team, do whatever you can, keep grinding it out, things will fall into place, good things happen (and) just stay positive.
"We separated ourselves from the people that didn't wanna work as hard and commit like we want to."
West Jordan's program progressed two years ago and then again last year, and heading into this fall, expectations are again extremely high for the Jags.
This time, though, they seem prepared to live up to the hype.
Because West Jordan acquired several new athletes through a boundary change and through convincing several members of the basketball team to come out for football, coach Mike Morgan commissioned coaches Mark Smith, Todd Tovey and Ross Wilson to install a brand-new spread offense, which will be a stark departure from the West Jordan offense of old.
Defensively, Morgan believes his guys on that side of the ball could gel together to become a truly outstanding group.
Van Komen thinks that both units could turn out to be special.
"We're definitely capable of big things, of shocking people," said Van Komen, who will start at linebacker on defense and center on offense. "We're definitely different than what West Jordan's (been) all about. We're more finesse than wear and tear.
But, added Van Komen, "it should be fun."
West Jordan Jaguars at a glance
Coach: Mike Morgan has gone 52-52 in 10 seasons as West Jordan's head coach.
Key players: Four-year starters Dustin Christensen (DE) and Colton Van Komen (LB/C) will lead the way for West Jordan in terms of how they play and in terms of they lead. Behind them, the Jags have a number of talented returners and a number of talented newcomers. Cody Burns (LB), Deshawn Perkins (WR/S), Adam Boelter (QB), C.J. O'Neal (WR/CB) and Tyler Birch (OL) are among the key returners. Meanwhile, guys like Jonny Collins (WR), Martavius Redmond (WR), Jordan Loveridge (DL), Braeden Loftus (DL) and Junior Lapale (DL) are all new to the program but should make a splash on the field.
Strengths: West Jordan is as fast as it has perhaps ever been, evidenced by Morgan's decision to move to a spread offense. Take a quick glance at West Jordan's roster, and it's pretty obvious that the Jags have the athletes and the depth at wide receiver to potentially make the spread work.
Weaknesses: The Jags need to find ways to go from being an OK team to being a great one. They've been alright the past couple of years but really need to find a way to step up this fall. That transition is much easier said than done.
Last year: 6-4, did not make the playoffs.
Predicted Region 3 finish: Third.
Postseason possibilities: West Jordan should be a solid team in Region 3 and has the potential to make some noise in the postseason.
Aug. 21 — GRANGER, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at East, 7 p.m.
Sep. 4 — at Provo, 7 p.m.
Sep. 11 — at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.
Sep. 18 — at Pleasant Grove, 7 p.m.
Sep. 24 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.
Sep. 30 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — BINGHAM, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Payson, 6 p.m.
Oct. 22 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.