Note: Fremont finished with a 10-2 overall record in 2016 and tied for first in Region 1 with a 5-1 record. It lost to Bingham 35-12 in the 5A semifinals.
PLAIN CITY — The masterful, motivational head coach has moved on. So has the three-headed monster that terrorized opponents for the past couple of years.
But make no mistake about it, Fremont High will still be a force and a factor in Region 1 football.
After nine highly successful years at the helm, Kory Bosgieter retired as the Silver Wolves' head coach last spring, turning the reins over to his longtime defensive coordinator, Ross Arnold.
Arnold will have some big shoes to fill, and he knows it.
After all, under Bosgieter's guidance, Fremont's program reached the state playoffs in seven of the last eight years, won or shared four region titles, reached the state finals in 2010 and '11 and advanced as far as the semifinals again last year. The Silver Wolves have won at least one state playoff game in each of their last six postseason appearances.
Coach Arnold hopes to continue that tremendous winning tradition.
"I think that's the plan," he said. "I've been able to learn from one of the best in the business, working side by side with Kory. He's a good guy and a good friend, and he's a guy that practices what he preaches. He's always done things the right way.
"He teaches it as a full developmental program, full character development — it's not just football — and we're gonna miss him for that."
Something else they'll certainly miss this fall will be their three-headed, high-powered offensive monster of quarterback Saxton Morby, running back Austin Freeman and wide receiver Haze Hadley, who were so instrumental to the Silver Wolves' success last season.
Morby threw for nearly 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns, completing 70 percent of his passes, and had just 3 interceptions. He also had 758 more yards rushing, averaging almost 8 yards per carry and added 13 more TDs on the ground.
Freeman was their workhorse running back, piling up 1,415 yards rushing, averaging 9 yards per carry and scored 17 touchdowns. He also had 223 more yards receiving and another TD.
Hadley hauled in 95 passes for 1,210 yards and 21 TDs, and he added 160 yards rushing and another score, as well as being a big-play threat as a kick-return specialist.
"Yeah, they weren't bad," Arnold deadpanned, realizing that it will be impossible to replicate the firepower — Fremont averaged over 39 points per game last year — that those three players and their supporting cast brought to the program.
Instead of trying to replace them, Arnold just wants this year's group of athletes to be themselves and make their own mark on the field.
"I told them, 'Don't try to be those guys,'" Arnold said. "Jay Scott will be our running back this year, and he started at linebacker for us and split time at running back with Freeman last year. We just need Jay to be Jay, he doesn't need to be Austin Freeman."
Fremont's new starting quarterback will be senior Dawson Sanford.
"He came up as a ninth-grader, so this is his fourth year in the system," Arnold said. "He doesn't need to be Saxton Morby. You can't replace Saxton Morby, he just needs to be the best Dawson Sanford he can be. And if he does that, we'll be just fine.
"After that, we start getting into the receivers, where we're seeing some good things out of guys. Jake Douglas, who started at corner last year on defense, is gonna be playing one of our receiver spots along with Cade Hadley.
"I told him the same thing. I told him 'You don't need to be Haze Hadley.' He just needs to be the best Cade Hadley he can be, and he's explosive."
Scheme-wise and philosophically, it will be business as usual and the Fremont program won't see a lot of wholesale changes despite the head coaching change.
As Arnold told the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, "The way I look at it is it's just a different skinny, bald guy in charge."
"That's how I'm looking at it and the coaching staff is looking at it. I'm gonna do the best I can," Arnold said. 'There will be a little bit of a twist, some small little wrinkles here and there. I'm doing things my own way, but for the most part, I learned some good things from Kory but I'm gonna try to be the best I can be, and not be exactly like Kory."
With only a couple of returning starters on offense, both of them on the O-line, the Silver Wolves will be breaking in a bunch of capable but less-experienced performers at the skill positions. Thus, several juniors and sophomores are being counted on to step into the void left behind by graduation.
Five starters return on defense, so the Wolves should be able to continue their impressive performance from last year when they allowed just 19.2 points per game — the sixth-best 5A mark in the state.
"The only thing we don't have is varsity experience," Arnold said. "We're gonna have to get our experience quick; as soon as we get that first snap in on both sides of the ball, we're now experienced.
"We have good kids here; we get 'em well-coached from our junior highs and everything, so we're hoping that we can keep developing them and just keep right on going. That's our expectation.
"Our kids said it best the other night: 'We want to keep the tradition and make our own legacy,' and they've done that," he said. "They've seen how things have been done for years in a successful way; they've been working hard, they've been dedicated and they go hard. They buy into the way we do things here. They know there are no shortcuts."
When it comes to the newly realigned Region 1, three Davis County schools — Davis, Syracuse and Layton — have been moved into the northern 6A league, joining Fremont, Weber, Clearfield and Northridge.
"It's a seven-team region unlike the rest, and we only get four seeds (to the playoffs), so it's gonna be a dogfight," Arnold said in sizing up the new-look Region 1.
"I think you always have to put Davis in the mix because they just win year after year after year and have great talent and tradition. They always seem to have really good size and really good athletes."
The Darts also have a first-year head coach in Mitch Arquette, who's a former Davis High and University of Utah player.
"Syracuse is always good and they have their quarterback (Ty Metcalfe) back and he's a good one," Arnold said. "They're well-coached and (fellow first-year head coach Mike Knight) has got a great staff around him, which is important.
"Weber obviously is very talented. I think those are the guys right at the top right there. Northridge has a lot of guys coming back, so we'll see how that goes. And Clearfield will be better, there's no doubt about that.
"Region 1 will always be a dogfight, every night, every week. There's no easy ones," he said. "There's so much more parity now. Utah high school football's gotten so much better so that that No. 4 vs. No. 1 matchup in the state playoffs is a good game now. It's pretty neat to see that in this state."
And when it comes to that dogfight, these Wolves will no doubt be right in the thick of that fight this year — just like they seemingly always are.
Fremont Silver Wolves at a glance
Coach: Ross Arnold takes over as Fremont's head coach after spending the previous 20 years as an assistant on the Silver Wolves' staff. He is a graduate of Whitko High School (Indiana) and BYU.
Fremont Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Lance Mimnaugh
2016 offensive production: 39.1 ppg (3rd in 5A)
-- 2 returning starters
-- Shotgun spread formation
Key offensive returning starters
These two offensive linemen played vital roles in helping the Silver Wolves pile up over 39 points per game last season, the third-best mark among 5A teams.
-- Jay Scott (RB)
Though he wasn't a starter last season as a sophomore, Scott still had 329 yards rushing — averaging nearly 10 yards per carry — and scored five touchdowns. He also had one receiving TD, averaging over 12 yards per reception.
Returning offensive starters
Owen Stewart (OT)
Tony Bodily (C)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Jay Scott (RB)
Dawson Sanford (QB)
Jake Douglas (WR)
Cade Hadley (WR)
Jake Jarnigan (OG)
Lex Peterson (OG)
Brycson Harris (OT)
Chaedon Dayton (TE)
Jaxon Gochis (Slot)
Arnold's comments on junior running back Jay Scott:
"Jay is a load. He always falls forward, he works hard and he prepares hard."
Arnold's comments on senior wide receiver Cade Hadley:
"He's gonna be taking a lot of snaps on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We're expecting big things out of him, too."
Keys for offensive success in 2017:
Replacing last year's talented triumvirate of stars would be impossible, so Fremont's focus is on finding new playmakers who will take their own turn in the spotlight and shine this season. Jay Scott is a proven performer at running back, and coach Arnold likes what he sees out of receivers Jake Douglas, Cade Hadley, Jaxon Gochis and tight end Chaedon Dayton. This group won't light the scoreboard for 39 points per game like they did last year, but the Silver Wolves' offense should be just fine with veteran O.C. Lance Mimnaugh calling the shots.
Fremont Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Ross Arnold (21st year at the school)
2016 defensive production: 19.2 ppg (6th in 5A)
-- 5 returning starters
-- 3-4 formation
Key defensive returning starters
-- Heston Hobbs (MLB)
Hobbs racked up a whopping 130 tackles and had 1 quarterback sack last season as a junior linebacker.
-- Chaedon Dayton (OLB)
Last year as a sophomore, Dayton recorded 68 tackles from his outside linebacker spot.
-- Jay Scott (OLB)
Scott made 65 tackles with 1 sack last season as a sophomore outside linebacker but, by taking over as the team's lead running back, he may not play much on the defensive side of the ball this year.
-- Jake Douglas (CB)
Last season, Douglas came up with 57 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1 interception as a junior cornerback. He'll be moved to a safety spot this season.
-- Dakota Thompson (DL)
Thompson had 31 tackles with 1 sack last season as a junior defensive lineman.
-- Cade Hadley (S)
Though he wasn't a starter last season as a junior, Hadley still had 31 tackles from his safety spot.
Returning defensive starters
Heston Hobbs (MLB)
Chaedon Dayton (OLB)
Jay Scott (OLB)
Jake Douglas (CB)
Dakota Thompson (DL)
Defensive newcomers to watch
Jaxon Whitney (DE)
Preston Madeiros (DT)
Justin Sagapolo (DT)
Trevor Hahn (OLB)
Cade Hadley (S)
Kendrick Bolos (CB)
Chase Edsinger (CB)
Jaxon Gochis (CB)
Keys for defensive success in 2017:
With Heston Hobbs and Chaedon Dayton leading a strong linebacking corps, the Wolves will again be fierce on defense. Jake Douglas and Cade Hadley will be strong in the back end at safety, so if newcomers can step in and provide solid stops on the D-line with returning starter Dakota Thompson, then Fremont's defense, with was sixth-best in the state's 5A ranks at stopping opponents from scoring, should be solid again this year.
Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Third
Key region game: vs. Weber, Oct. 6 (Week 8)
Bottom line: After reaching the 5A state semifinals last year, Fremont again showed that it knows how to win and do it consistently. Ross Arnold takes over a program that is known for its toughness and winning tradition, and he's been a part of that tradition for two decades. That won't change, and neither will Fremont's ability to consistently win football games. So look for the Wolves to earn another top-four league finish and continue their successful run of state playoff appearances again this year.
Aug. 18 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — PLEASANT GROVE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Bonneville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Layton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — DAVIS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — at Northridge, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — WEBER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 — BYE
Felts Facts for Fremont High School
All-time record: 153-98 (23 years)
Region championships: 7 (2002 co, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 co)
Playoff appearances: 18
Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2014-2016)
All-time playoff record: 25-18
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-3
Most played rivalry: 23 meetings with two schools, Northridge and Weber, both dating back to 1994. Fremont leads Northridge 13-10 and Weber 18-5.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Fremont’s Austin Raught (2003-05) holds the state record for career reception yards, 3,445, and career receptions, 231. He also has the career TD reception record (tied with Jordan’s Cody Raymond), 41.
2016 — 10-2 (5-1 in Region 1 – 5A Semifinals)
2015 — 6-5 (3-3 in Region 1 – 5A Quarterfinals)
2014 — 8-4 (6-0 in Region 1 – 5A Quarterfinals)
2013 — 1-9 (1-5 in Region 1 – Missed playoffs)
2012 — 4-7 (2-3 in Region 1 – 5A Quarterfinals)
Fremont coaching history
2017 — Ross Arnold (0-0)
2008-2016 — Kory Bosgieter (56-43)
1994-2007 — Blaine Monkres (101-59)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2011 — Nick Vigil, RB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2016 — Haze Hadley, WR
2016 — Saxton Morby, ATH
2016 — Bryson Olsen, OG
2014 — Paxton Merrill, TE
2014 — Nate Wadsworth, OL
2012 — Tucker Zanone, OL
2011 — Luke Hollingsworth, DL
2011 — Jordan Preator, DB
2011 — Rowdy Stucki, DB
2010 — Nick Vigil, RB
2010 — Jake Gallegos, DL
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.