Bonneville High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Matt Virgil
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
Dillon Sorensen, TE/DE, 12
Brock Saxton, QB, 12
Austin Ford, RB/LB, 12
Hunter Guthrie, OL/DL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Dillon Sorenson – Second Team All-Conference
Written by: Matt Harris
The 2016 season was a good start to Matt Virgil’s rebuilding project at Bonneville High School.
The head coach, who is now in his second season in Iona, helped guide the Bees to a 4-5 record last season and were in the running for a playoff spot in the final week of the campaign. While they didn’t make it to the state tournament in the end, Bonneville has set a foundation for future success, one that Virgil believes can show some results now.
“I’ve been able to spend more time around the players now being in my second year,” he said. “The kids have figured out the expectations and the direction we are trying to move the program. We also had a good group of kids attend 7-on-7 sessions in the spring and summer.”
Virgil has hammered home his philosophy and team motto: ‘Compete’. And he knows that everything will fall into place if his players continue to buy in.
“We are trying to get the players to compete on every down and every practice and game,” he said. “We are not focused on the results. We can be in control if we compete on every down. If we compete on every down, the results will take care of themselves.” Virgil added that they are a young team will some inexperience on the varsity level, but are extremely hungry to compete in 2017.
The offense will have some weapons to work with this season. The green-and-yellow return senior quarterback Brock Saxton, who takes the reigns from the now graduated Saia Taufatofua. Saxton will be joined in the backfield by senior running back Austin Ford and will have a big target to look for downfield in senior tight end Dillon Sorensen. Senior Hunter Guthrie will help anchor the protection up front.
Virgil says that his team has some advantages they can exploit, but only if other pieces fall into place first.
“We have a lot of height at wide receiver, anywhere from 6’3” to 6’5”. We have a lot of athletic kids that want to make plays,” he said. “But we have to be able to run the ball too.”
Their ability to do those things with their offensive skill position players will all hinge on their offensive line, a group that was maligned by injuries all last season to the point where they never started the same group of linemen in any one game.
“I think any teams success is based on the O-line,” said Virgil. “We will go as far as they can take us. I have a lot of confidence in the guys up front and they will set the tone.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bees will be forced to make fast adjustments as they graduated many senior starters from that unit a year ago.
“This year will be a learning curve for younger players to make a name for themselves,” said Virgil. “I have been impressed by their ability so far in camp.”
The coach noted that he hopes his young defense can be even more aggressive than last year and he emphasized their need to get off the field on third down.
Bonneville will begin their 2017 campaign on Aug. 25 when they play at cross-town foe Idaho Falls at Ravsten Stadium. They’ll then return home for a couple of home dates, including against Timberline on Sept. 2 and the 26th Civil War against Hillcrest on Sept. 8.
“Week 3 against Hillcrest is a must-see game for us, obviously because it’s a rivalry game but also because it’s our first conference game,” said Virgil. “It will have a potential impact on teams making the playoffs.”
Following the Civil War, the Bees will again travel cross-town to Ravsten Stadium on Sept. 15 to face defending 4A state champion Skyline. Bonneville will then have their first trip outside of the Idaho Falls area when they play at Minico on Sept. 22 and at Highland on Sept. 29.
In October, the Bees will head to the Magic Valley to take on the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks on Oct. 6, followed by games at home against Madison on Oct. 13 and Rigby on Oct. 20. Virgil said that the Madison game is another key one to watch.
“I think that game will have an impact on which teams from our conference will qualify for the playoffs,” he said, adding that he felt that Highland was the front-runner with Rigby being a dark horse contender.
If Bonneville can get their defense off the ground and have their young players acclimated to it by the time the Civil War rolls around on Sept. 8 while also getting their offensive line up to speed, the Bees could be pushing for a playoff berth come the end of October.