Note: Northridge finished with a 2-8 overall record in 2019 and was tied for sixth in Region 1 with a 1-6 record. It was RPI seed No. 23 in the 6A playoffs, and was eliminated by Roy 45-27 in first round.
LAYTON — A new era has begun at Northridge High and it will be headed by an alumnus.
After three years as the head coach at Woods Cross, Andrew Fresques has returned to lead his alma mater, and despite the Knights coming off a disappointing 2-8 season, not to mention low expectations outside of Layton — Region 1 coaches picked Northridge to finish seventh in region this year, per the Deseret News’ preseason straw poll — expectations are high.
“Our expectations are the same as every year,” said Fresques. “We want to compete. We want to compete with everybody. We want to compete for region. We want to compete in the playoffs.”
There is some positive news on that front, namely that the Knights have talent, albeit inexperienced talent.
“There are some really great kids here,” said Fresques. “They’ve always had great athletes at Northridge and that is no different from the kids we have this year.”
Offensively there is a long list of players who qualify, including quarterback Famous Williams, receivers Brooks Ashton, Logan Smith, Hudson Tanner and Amaree McDaniel, as well as running backs A.J. Tillman and Bryce Hughes. Success will come down to offensive line play, however.
“If we can take care of business down in the trenches, we will be just fine offensively,” said Fresques.
Defensively, the Knights are more experienced, with returners in linebacker Dylan Madrigal, lineman Robby Howe and defensive backs like McDaniel and Tanner. Effort will be key, though.
“Playing with intensity on defense is critical,” said Fresques.
The coaching staff has done its best to create a system that fits the athletes available — “I have an offensive system we run, but what I love about it is it can be easily tailored to fit the athletes we have here,” Fresques said — and the hope is that the season will live up to the Knights’ expectations.
“There is a lot of inexperience, but there are a lot of really good kids ready to step up,” said Fresques. “We put in so much dang time, so the goal is just to be competitive. I don’t care who people are picking to win, we have to be competitive.”
Northridge Knights at a glance
Coach Fresques’ thoughts on how his players dealt with the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:
“It was obviously a new and different experience for everyone, players and coaches, but I thought they dealt with it very well. I thought they did a really good job with Zoom meetings, things like that. They handled it well. Like I kept telling them, ‘control what you can control.’ That is all we can focus on.
“It was a lot more tough on me being a new coach. I had one week where I met the team and then we got shut down. It was tough because I didn’t have time to personally interact with guys and get to know them, outside of football. It was really tough on me.”
Northridge offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Andrew Fresques
2019 offense: 22.7 ppg (17th in 6A)
- 1 returning starter
- Multiple (spread) offense
Returning offensive starter
- Austin Joy (OG)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Chase Davis (OT)
- Carson Ormond (OT)
- Boston Heywood (C)
- Brooks Ashton WR)
- Logan Smith (WR)
- Hudson Tanner (WR)
- Amaree McDaniel (WR)
- A.J. Tillman (RB)
- Bryce Hughes (RB)
- Famous Williams (QB)
Coach Fresques’ keys for offensive success in 2020:
“Really it is about O-line play. If we can take care of business down in the trenches, we will be just fine offensively. We have a ton of athletes, so that is where it begins on offense. Whether we want to run the ball or pass it, we have to take care of business up front.”
Northridge defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Mike Murphy
2019 defense: 33.7 ppg (22nd in 6A)
- 4 returning starters
- 4-3 defense
Returning defensive starters
- Dylan Madrigal (LB)
- Robby Howe (DL)
- Amaree McDaniel (DB)
- Hudson Tanner (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Austin Joy (DT)
- Brooks Ashton (CB)
- Chase Davis (DE/DT)
- Bryce Hughes (LB)
Coach Fresques’ keys for defensive success in 2020:
“Really just doing their job and flying to the football. Playing with intensity on defense is critical. You have to get 11 hats to the ball and you have to practice that day in and day out. Those things are huge, just effort on that side of the ball.”
Deseret News outlook for 2020
The Knights struggled in 2019, after years of solid competition in the years prior. A return to the middle of the pack in Region 1 is a real possibility — Northridge has athletes — but much of that will come down to how well the Knights transition under Fresques. Northridge is largely inexperienced, but much like the rest of Region 1 expects to be competitive. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Knights pull of an upset or two en route to a bounce back season.
Felt’s Facts for Northridge
- All-time record: 172-126 (28 years)
- Region championships: 5 (1993 co, 1998 co, 2001, 2002 co, 2003)
- Playoff appearances: 21
- All-time playoff record: 20-18
- State championships: 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- State championship record: 3-0
- Most played rivalry: 27 meetings with Layton dating back to 1992. Northridge leads the series 20-7.
Last 5 seasons
- 2019 — 2-8 (1-6 in Region 1 – 6A First round)
- 2018 — 5-5 (3-3 in Region 1 – 6A First round)
- 2017 — 6-4 (4-2 in Region 1 – 6A First round)
- 2016 — 4-7 (3-3 in Region 1 – 5A First round)
- 2015 — 4-6 (2-4 in Region 1 – Missed playoffs)
Northridge coaching history
- 2020 — Andrew Fresques (0-0)
- 2017-2019 — Braden Mitchell (13-17)
- 2004-2016 — Erik Thompson (79-60)
- 1996-2003 — Fred Fernandes (67-26) *3 state titles
- 1992-1995 — Mike Rosky (12-26)
Northridge All-State at-a-glance
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
- 2001 — Daniel Coats, WR
Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years
- 2019 — Otto Tia, TE
- 2018 — Carson Stokes, TE
- 2016 — Ethan Udy, S
- 2015 — Cyrus Daniels (RB)
- 2012 — James Baird, K
- 2012 — Eliyah Mayberry, DL
- 2012 — David Adams, RB
- 2011 — Karson Casteel, QB
- 2011 — David Adams, RB
- 2011 — Dallas Clark, OL
- 2011 — Austin Tate, LB
- 2010 — Brock Johnson, DB