OREM - It's said that the real measure of a coach and his program comes two or three years into his tenure when the system he's implemented really begins taking effect.
For Mountain View coach Terrry "Teko" Johnson, the changes were actually noticeable last season - his second as the Bruins mentor. But many believe this year's Bruins team is much more comfortable with Johnson's system and that the results will be even more noticeable.
"Part of that is just having a system and having kids that know it," Johnson said. "We have sophomore coaches who are some of the best coaches I've ever seen, so now we have kids who have been in our system for three years and they're coming up knowing what they're doing because they started in our system. That's really a huge step for us."
Still, a coach needs the personnel. And even though the Bruins did lose most of their skill-position players, Johnson likes the mixture of young players who are joining his seven returning starters and the balance it gives this Mountain View team. For the most part it will be an offense by committee and a defense led by the team's true main superstar.
Four to five running backs could see time, with most of the carries likely going to Tanner Houston, James Emerson and Bennett Maxwell. Zach Taylor and Evan Moai are plenty talented at the receiver position, and the most experience the Bruins have back is in quarterback Dustin Thacker.
"We might not have the big gun that we've had, but overall we have more people who will contribute and more who are able to fill in," Johnson said.
The Bruins are bigger up front than they've been in quite some time, with two lineman pushing 300 pounds and two more not far behind.
"It's funny, last year we had huge skill guys and a small line. This year we have small skill guys and a huge line. I wonder how much difference it will make? I don't know," Johnson said.
One player that could quickly earn superstar status for Mountain View is move-in lineman Taylor Johnson, whom coach Johnson says is the best he's coached in 18 years.
"We're very pleased with him right now. He's a difference-maker," Coach Johnson said.
Mountain View's secondary will be another by-committee trait of this Bruins team.
"We have a lot of guys that are real similar size wise, but nobody that really stands out in our secondary. But we have guys that can really run and are fun to be around," Johnson said.
One characteristic Johnson really likes about this squad is it unity.
"This year it feels like the kids are little bit more focused on working together," he said.
To be successful, however, the mostly inexperienced Bruins must mature quickly and get game-comfortable by the time league play rolls around.
"We have some pretty good guys and some guys who are still figuring some things out because of a lack of experience. But overall, our depth is a little bit better," Johnson said.
Mountain View Bruins at a glance
Coach: Terry "Teko" Johnson took over the Bruins football program two years ago and has compiled an 11-10 mark at Mountain View. In 15 total years as a head coach, the West High graduate has a record of 85-64.
Key Players: Without a superstar skill-position player, the guy who might carry the Bruins through crunch times is lineman Taylor Johnson, whom his coach calls the best he's ever coached. But that doesn't mean that the Bruins won't still be plenty potent with running backs Tanner Houston, James Emerson and Bennett Maxwell. Quarterback Dustin Thacker started for the Bruins last season, and receivers Zach Taylor and Evan Moai have outstanding speed and hands. The Bruins have good size with linemen Mitch Riley and Tim Billings. Defensive backs Scott Laxton and Kope Satula, and linebacker Seth Simmons should give the Bruins a pretty solid defense.
Strengths: This is one Bruins team that seems to have outstanding unity and enthusiasm for the steady improvement the program is showing. Team speed is another plus for this group, as is balance and athleticism across the roster. The line will be one of the biggest in Region 7.
Concerns: One area where the Bruins are lacking depth is on the line, which will require the big guys to play a lot of minutes and makes the team a little vulnerable in the trenches. Offensively, there is not really a go-to weapon like the Bruins had the past few years, and a lot of players don't have a lot of varsity game experience.
Last year: 4-6, second in region, lost in first round of playoffs
Predicted Region 7 finish: Second
Postseason possibilities: The Bruins should be one of the top teams in a young and new league, so getting to the playoffs shouldn't be a problem. They're also good enough to win a first-round game, but probably won't get farther than that.
Aug. 21 - at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 - LOGAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 - SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 - TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 - at Westlake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 - at Timpanogos, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 - LEHI, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 - at Provo, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 - OREM, 7 p.m.