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High school football: Ogden Tigers 2009 preview

OGDEN — The Ogden Tigers seemingly turned the corner as a program last season, as rookie head coach Eric Eyre guided the team to a 5-6 record and a berth in the 3A playoffs.

Continuing their success and momentum, however, is going to be challenging for the Tigers.

Ogden is set to compete in 4A, joining a tough Region 5 with traditional powers such as Mountain Crest and Box Elder, along with its former 3A league opponent Logan.

"It's definitely going to be tougher competition," said Ogden quarterback Nik Allred. " I think we've done all we can thus far to prepare, and work towards being competitive as we move up."

The Tigers have known for more than a year that they'll be in 4A this season, so no one at Ogden is dwelling on the fact that it will be among the smallest 4A schools in the state. The Tigers say they're ready to play and compete in a stronger league, especially since they've been playing against the likes of Logan, Bear River and Morgan the last four seasons.

"I don't see a huge difference in playing a lot of those teams (in the new Region 5)," Eyre said. "Top to bottom it's better, but it doesn't really effect my approach or anything."

Eyre's approach last season paid dividends for the Tigers. It was the first time since 1998 that Ogden won five games in a season. Although the Tigers will face tougher competition this season, they should still continue to progress as a program.

It helps that Allred is a returning starter. He proved to be a solid double-threat at quarterback in the team's spread offense as a junior. He threw for 1,423 yards and 18 touchdowns, and also rushed for 693 yards and six scores. As a senior, he is Ogden's unquestioned leader.

"He's not an outspoken kid, but he's a good leader by example," Eyre said.

Allred will have some solid athletes to join him on offense. Jake Buck, who caught four touchdown passes last year, Kel Robbins and tight end Eric Porter will be good receiving threats. Also, the team will get a boost from soccer star Alfonso Perea, who will play football for the first time this fall.

Eyre said he hopes to get the ball to Perea at least 15 times per game.

"He gives us something we didn't have before athletically," Eyre said. "He's a kid who hasn't played football before and there's a whole learning curve with that. He's a kid we feel confident can do some special things for us in kick return, running the ball and catching the ball. I dare say he's as athletic as any guy we face all year."

The Tigers' offensive line will obviously have to step up, so that players such as Perea and Allred can shine. Fortunately for Ogden, the team has some quality returning linemen in Nate Kapple and Robert Cervantes.

"Athletically, top to bottom, we're better than we were last year," Eyre said. "A lot of that is these kids buying in and working harder than what's been the typical way of doing things at Ogden High."

Eyre hopes participation in football at Ogden continues to improve. At the end of last season, his core group of kids included just 13 juniors and six sophomores. That number has increased to about 35 current juniors and seniors.

Winning five games got people at Ogden more excited about football, and the Tigers hope to continue that trend.

"We hope to have a season at least like last year, win some games and be at least competitive in games," Allred said. "I'm excited."

Ogden Tigers 2009 at a glance

Coach: Eric Eyre is in his second season as the Tigers' head coach. His team went 5-6 and reached the 3A playoffs last season.

Key Players: Senior quarterback Nik Allred returns from last season, and can be a dangerous threat for the team. He accounted for more than 2,100 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Alfonso Perea will be an exciting addition to the team, while players such as Jake Buck and Kel Robbins will be quality pass catchers. Robert Cervantes and Nate Kapple will anchor the offensive line. Eric Porter is another key player to watch at tight end and on the defensive line.

Strengths: The Tigers are athletic, and they'll be exciting on offense as long as Allred is protected. How Perea is utilized will also be fun to watch, and tough for opposing teams to defend.

Concerns: Depth is a huge issue for the Tigers. The team has only around 35 juniors and seniors in the program, and won't be able to field both sophomore and junior varsity teams. If the key players get hurt and have to miss time, Ogden will have a tough time competing in a strong 4A league.

Last year: 5-6, lost to Cedar in the first round of the playoffs

Predicted Region 5 finish: Sixth

Postseason possibilities: Reaching the playoffs will be difficult, if not impossible, for Ogden. Only three teams from Region 5 get in the tournament, and Ogden is the smallest team in the league with the least amount of depth. While the Tigers have some exciting players and have the ability to surprise some teams, reaching the playoffs is a longshot.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — MURRAY, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at Judge, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — STANSBURY, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — at Ben Lomond, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — LOGAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Bonneville, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 — at Provo, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — at Sky View, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com