Note: Bonneville finished with a 6-5 overall record in 2019 and was tied for second in Region 5 with a 3-2 record. It was RPI seed No. 14 in the 5A playoffs, and was eliminated by Farmington 30-0 in second round.
WASHINGTON TERRACE — The Bonneville Lakers surprised many people in 2019. Most observers generally expected last season to be a struggle for the Lakers, who were making the transition from the 4A classification to 5A. Depth was supposed to be an issue, experience too.
The Lakers proved those doubts unfounded, becoming a top three team in Region 5. Heading into the 2020 season, they hope to do something similar again.
“I think we are going to be in the pack,” head coach Jantz Afuvai said. “I think we are going to shock some people.”
Their best chance of that will come on offense, where the Lakers might be as well off as they’ve been at any time during Afuvai’s tenure as coach. Quarterback Kamen Best is back and healthy, after suffering a broken collarbone last season, and is primed for a breakout season.
“He is going to be one of those guys that shocks people because of how good he is,” Afuvai said. “He is a big 6-foot-4 kid, who can run and throws darts.”
Bonneville also has a corps of skill position players that Afuvai believes are as talented as any in the state, headlined by receivers Luke Dixon, Reiss Graybeal, Caleb Nelson and Mason Koopman.
“This is probably one of the better teams that I’ve had (in regards to) receivers and running backs,” he said. “They are top notch. They rival anybody in the state. They are good.”
Line play is less solid for Bonneville, on both sides of the ball, however.
“We lost a lot of linemen from last year, both on offense and defense,” said Afuvai. “That is where we are rebuilding right now.”
The season will largely come down to that group’s development — keep an eye on Hookena Kailiponi, recently arrived from Hawaii — and there is hope that things will turn out in the Lakers’ favor.
“I’m excited,” Afuvai said. “We’ve got plenty of Friday night experience. I think we surprised a bunch of people last year, too, and we’ll hope to do it again. We’re firing right now, it is just a matter of have we done enough.”
Bonneville Lakers at a glance
Coach Afuvai’s thoughts on how his players dealt with the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:
“This is the weirdest year. It is just a weird feeling. It doesn’t feel like football. I don’t know how to explain it. I hope we are ready, but these are crazy times. I just hope we are doing the right thing here. Are we doing the right thing playing games? I’m nervous. I don’t have those warm feeling right now that I usually have.
“It has been extremely difficult. Everybody likes a predictable calendar. You know what your plan is going in, you have certain thresholds and benchmarks to hit with weight training and conditioning. Those give the athletes an idea of what they need to do to be prepared for a season. The worry for football is not only mentally are they ready, but are they physically ready given the lack of time we have had to train for this thing.
When COVID-19 hit, we were done from March until June 1, and we spent a lot of July on COVID protocols, so we have been playing catch up ever since. It is shaky. It is hard. We are trying to do the best we can. I don’t know what the right thing to do is right now.”
Bonneville offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Lance Mimnaugh
2019 offense: 18.4 ppg (20th in 5A)
- 6 returning starters
- Spread offense
Returning offensive starters
- Kamen Best (QB)
- Kord Shaw (RB)
- Luke Dixon (WR)
- Reiss Graybeal (WR)
- Caleb Nelson (WR)
- Mason Koopman (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Carson Jones (RB/TE)
- Hookena Kailiponi (OL)
- Jordan Jacquez (WR)
Coach Afuvai’s keys for offensive success in 2020:
“I think we are going to be OK there as long as we can give our quarterback time to make his reads and get the ball out to our guys in space. If he can do that, we are going to be in every ball game because those guys are pretty good and we’ve got depth. Our focus has been on controlling the pace of the game. We have to be able to wear down teams that have more depth than we do. We have to make sure that they stay off the field and are not able to sub. It is about keeping our horses on and not letting those guys sub out and we’ll see who lasts longer.”
Bonneville defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Jantz Afuvai
2019 defense: 23.3 ppg (14th in 5A)
- 6 returning starters
- 4-3 defense
Returning defensive starters
- Aaron Johnson (LB)
- Adrian Medel (LB)
- Boston Baur (FS)
- Demry Wolfley (DT)
- Carson Jones (DE)
- Jordan Citte (CB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Tommy Turpin (DE)
- Hookena Kailiponi (DL)
- Myles Hymas (CB)
- Jordan Jacquez (DB)
Coach Afuvai’s keys for defensive success in 2020:
“We are pretty fluid and we bank on having smaller guys each year, so we really try to outscheme our opponents. We do a lot of movement, we shift a lot, do a lot of different formations. We move our linemen constantly. The trick is finding a saturation point where we can still be effective with the movement we are trying to portray up front. For us to be successful, those guys have to be able to check to the correct defense, and then execute their assignment 90% of the time or we will not be successful.”
Deseret News outlook for 2020
The Lakers caught Region 5 by surprise a year ago and ended up one of the top three teams in the group. The opportunity is there for a similar season this year, as Bonneville is experienced and talented at some of the most important positions on the field. Line play, both on offense and defense, will ultimately decide just how successful the Lakers will be.
Felt’s Facts for Bonneville High School
- All-time record: 365-256-1 (60 years)
- Region championships: 18 (1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1978 co, 1980 co, 1981, 1985 co, 1986, 1988, 1989 co, 1991 co, 1992 co, 1995, 1996 co, 1997, 1999 co, 2002)
- Playoff appearances: 38
- All-time playoff record: 37-37
- State championships: 1 (1980)
- State championship record: 1-4
- Most played rivalry: 56 meetings with Weber dating back to 1960. Bonneville leads 38-18.
Last 5 Seasons
- 2019 — 6-5 (3-2 in Region 5 – 5A Second round)
- 2018 — 5-5 (2-3 in Region 11 — Missed playoffs)
- 2017 — 4-7 (3-2 in Region 11 – 4A First round)
- 2016 — 1-8 (0-5 in Region 5 — Missed playoffs)
- 2015 — 2-9 (1-4 in Region 5 — Missed playoffs)
Bonneville coaching history
- 2013-current — Jantz Afuvai (23-49)
- 2012 — Tyler Gladwell (3-7)
- 2011 — Randy Johnson (5-5)
- 2006-2010 — Matt Williams (21-31)
- 1975-2005 — Thom Budge (237-104) *1 state title
- 1972-1974 — Brent Hancock (14-12)
- 1968-1971 — Larry Neves (25-11)
- 1960-1967 — Harry Burchell (31-40)