SMITHFIELD – The 2015 Sky View Bobcats have the blueprint of a team that can turn heads. It returns 16 starters that last year went 9-3 overall, 8-2 in the regular season and was a touchdown shy of becoming region champions. Of the returning starters is senior quarterback Garrison Beach, who last year led the Bobcats to the second round of the 4A state playoffs and threw for more than 2,000 yards during the season.
But this year there is a difference in the competition. Sky View moved from 4A to 5A during the offseason and will now be competing with the state’s largest schools. While the jump could seem daunting to some, Beach and his Bobcat teammates are convinced they will be able to compete and have set the goal for a region championship.
“We’re a hardworking team and we’ll be ready for everybody we play,” Beach said. “We’re confident we can play against anyone and hold our own.”
Senior safety and wide receiver Alex McRae agreed.
“I think we’ll do fine,” he said. “No one believes in us but we’ve got to believe in ourselves.”
Head coach Craig Anhder said the challenges will be the same no matter the classification.
“The biggest concern for me is to see how good we can become,” he said. “How much of a team can we become and how close can we come together as a team, then let the wins and losses take care of themselves.”
If there ever will be a year for Sky View to make an impression on the 5A level, this first year may be the best opportunity to do so. Not only do the Bobcats believe they are talented and experienced, but the seniors on the team said there is great chemistry that has developed through the years.
“We spend a lot of time together, the seniors and even some of the juniors and sophomores,” senior lineman Colton Durrant said. “We’re all friends and we’ve got each other’s backs.”
McRae said a level of trust has also developed between his teammates.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for eight years,” he said. “It’s senior year, give it one last run.”
McRae specifically noted the chemistry with his quarterback Beach.
“We’ve been running routes for eight years,” he said. “That’s such an advantage over the defense if he knows where I’m going to be. He knows where to put the ball and we can go make plays.”
Anhder said it is great to have so many returning players, but he isn’t relying solely on the returning experience and chemistry for wins.
“We’ve talked a lot about it,” he said. “We’ve got start over. It’s not like you can just say ‘Well, we’ve got 16 returning, we’re going to be OK.’ It’s starting all over, it’s a brand new season. We haven’t played a game yet. We’ve got to test ourselves and see what we can do.”
The first game of the 2015 season is a little more than one week away. The Bobcats will be tested early when they travel to Riverton on August 21 to take on a team that last year went 10-2 and made a trip to the semifinals.
“I’ll guarantee we’ll be as ready as we can be for our first game,” Anhder said. “Obviously we hope we are progressing as the games go on but we’ve started working on our schemes, we’ve started preparing for what we want to accomplish and we’ll make sure that we’re ready to go when that game comes.”