BRIGHAM CITY — It's a new era of Box Elder football.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Bees have a new coach, and Robbie Gunter brings with him a new offense and a new defense to Brigham City.
"It's a big change," said Box Elder tight end/linebacker Carson Mund. "This has brought a whole new excitement back to Brigham City. Hopefully, we can establish the Bees back on the map."
Box Elder is looking to rebuild following two straight losing seasons. The Bees went 1-8 last season, and former coach Wes Roesler resigned at the end of the year. Gunter was brought in from Viewmont to try and reignite what Roesler had established as a strong program during most of his tenure.
"Hopefully, I can stay here as long as Wes did and do as good a job as he did," Gunter said.
While the Bees hope to be better than last year, there's no doubt that they'll at least be a lot different from what they were in 2008.
The most drastic difference for Box Elder will be on offense. Gone is the smash-mouth veer which the Bees ran for many years, and in it's place is the spread. Junior quarterback Mitch Parrish will be responsible for directing an offense that couldn't be more different from the veer.
"It's quite a change," Gunter said. "In some ways it's good and in some ways it's hard. The veer is so precise, it's almost scientific. When it comes down to it, it's (the spread) the exact same thing. You have to learn it, rep it, execute and just keep going."
Although Parrish is only a junior, he got some playing time toward the end of the 2008 season for the Bees. Gunter feels confident in his ability to run the new offense.
"He's a competitive kid," Gunter said. "He's a great decision-maker and pretty athletic. That's what we always look for in a quarterback."
Parrish has some weapons to work with, notably receiver T.J. Barlow. Defensive backs are going to have a tough time stopping Barlow, who is quick and elusive.
"I call him crazy legs because he can go 100 miles an hour like that," Gunter said. "He can go this way, that way. He's a good little runner."
Gunter believes the strength of his team will be on the offensive and defensive lines. As is typically the case, the Bees will be strong and physical in the trenches with Chris Johnson leading the way.
Defensively, the Bees will employ the 3-3-5 stack scheme. The team features some solid defensive backs in Barlow, Trevor Thornton, Wilson Parson and Kris Leishman. Johnson will anchor the defensive line, and players such as Sean Smith and Mund will contribute at linebacker.
Gunter isn't too worried about wins and losses right now. He's more concerned with the Bees being focused on his two rules: respect and hard work. He believes his players are following those two principles, and he's encouraged with what he's seen in his first summer at Box Elder.
"These guys are hard workers," Gunter said. "They've got some spirit to them. We've got kids that are ready to compete and want to compete and want to be there and go hard. When you have kids who want to compete, you've got half the battle won."
Box Elder Bees 2009 prep football preview
Coach: Robbie Gunter is in his first year at Box Elder. He coached at Viewmont for seven seasons and compiled a 36-29 record.
Key Players: Chris Johnson will be counted on to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines. Quarterback Mitch Parrish is only a junior but got some varsity experience last year and will likely be the starter. T.J. Barlow will be an exciting player to watch on offense, while Sean Smith, Carson Mund, Trevor Thornton, Wilson Parson, Kris Leishman and Dan Crook are all expected to contribute on at least one side of the ball.
Strengths: Box Elder is usually led by its offensive and defensive lines, and this season is no different. The Bees are also a hard-working group and won't be pushed around by any of their opponents.
Concerns: The Bees will be running a new offense, and it may take some time for everything to click on that side of the ball. If the offense does start slowly, will the players regroup? Box Elder struggled mightily on offense last season, as it was blanked in three of its last four games and scored a total of 26 points in its last six contests. The Bees only have three home games, compared to six road contests.
Last year: 1-8, did not qualify for the playoffs
Predicted Region 5 finish: Fifth
Postseason possibilities: The Bees are headed in the right direction and will be better than last season. Region 5 only gets three teams into the playoffs this season, and Box Elder should be in the mix for the league's last spot.
Aug. 21 — at Weber, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 — BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — at Sky View, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — at Logan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 — at Ogden, 7 p.m.