It’s never easy taking over for a legend, but Randell Johnson has been up for the challenge.
In his inaugural season at the helm of the Bountiful High School football team, replacing longtime coach Larry Wall, Johnson’s squad struggled to a 2-8 record, with just one win in region play.
If the 2017 season opener is any indication, Johnson’s follow-up campaign has good things in store as he tries to get the Braves back in track. Bountiful cruised past long time rival Davis 27-2 on Aug. 18 in a game that saw Bountiful dominate in all phases of the contest.
The Braves defense pitched a shutout, as Davis’ only points came via a safety in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Bridger Freestone opened the scoring with a 67-yard run in the first quarter, while Karsten Wersland plunged across the goal line from a yard out in the third. In between those two offensive touchdowns was a 62-yard fumble return for a TD by Cameron Hensen in the second. Bridger Booth’s 35-yard field goal in the final period ended the scoring and provided the final margin for the Braves.
Next up, Bountiful travel to Hunter on Friday.
Johnson began the season with a positive outlook. Though he said he wishes he had more players at his disposal (forcing him to play several players on both offense and defense), he does welcome back a good number of starters from last year’s squad.
“I like our kids,” he said. “We have several experienced kids coming back.”
One of these is quarterback Spencer Jorgensen. The junior saw some action last season but was banged up with injury. Johnson is thrilled to have the signal caller back.
“He’s a very excitable young man,” he said. “He’s ready to go this year.”
Linemen Seth Sudweeks and Kade Larsen will play on both sides of the ball. Brig Johnson and Hensen started at linebacker last season and look to make an impact this season as well. Defensive ends Mason Fauatea and Garrett Buchanan will help control the line of scrimmage. Wide receivers Jaxon Wood and Tavin Dougher will be two of Jorgensen’s most reliable targets.
After a year absence from the postseason, Johnson and his players are eager to return to their winning ways. Johnson believes success could be determined by what happens in the trenches.
“We want to get back to the tournament,” he said. “We want to control the ball with our running game.”
With a year under his belt and his players more accustomed to his system, Johnson said another secret to achieving the team’s goals may simply be playing harder and maintaining focus.
“The concerted team effort—I would like to see it greatly improve,” Johnson said. “We need to do things right. I’m trying to teach the kids the best way to go about it. You have to prepare the best you can.”
The Braves play six Class 6A teams in non-region action. Johnson hopes the ambitious schedule prepares his players for league games. He said the team should know where it stands once Region 5 play gets underway Sept. 15 at Box Elder.