2016 Season an Uphill Battle for the Bengals Football Team
Sep 29, 2016 12:20PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | firstname.lastname@example.org
Cottonwood Heights, Utah - Despite a challenging preseason, the Brighton High School Bengals football team is continuing to see improvement as they begin the second half of their season and face off against challenging rivals like Bingham and Copper Hills.
“We had a tough preseason,” Ryan Bullett, head coach of the team, said. “We went 0-3, so that was a little tough. But we did improve each week and the three teams we played are in the top five in the state.”
“But I did see improvement and we started our league off with a win,” Bullett said. “And we were able to play some of our younger guys and get them some experience.”
Bullett said that in order to be successful within their 5A region this season, the Bengals are going to need to build some depth and capitalize on every ounce of talent they have.
The team has roughly 90 players on the roster this season, 30 of whom are freshman.
“The numbers are about average for us this year,” Bullett said. “We’ve got a big group of freshman which is good because that’s where the talent starts.”
According to Bullett, who’s been the Bengals head coach for 10 years, the team’s early pre-season losses are no indication of the skill level that most of his players have.
“Our offensive line has seen tremendous growth,” Bullett said. “We’re breaking in a new quarterback and still trying to find a couple more linemen, but overall their improvement has been very noticeable during the first few weeks and we are getting a lot of new guys more comfortable with all of the calls. We’re moving in the right direction.”
The Bengals have also welcomed back many returning players to the team this year. Regardless of the talent many experienced players have, Bullett says that the team is lacking the leadership the group has had in the past.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with experience,” Bullett said. “But what’s hard is kids don’t always want to be leaders, you know? Like they don’t want to tell their peers what to do or how to do it.”
Despite the Bengals’ lack of a dignified team leader, Bullett says he and his fellow coaches see promise on the field and continue to notice the group unifying as the season progresses.
“We’ve got some good kids that have come back to the team and they are really good kids,” Bullett said. “The coaching staff likes working with them and the kids are being positive, so that’s what’s making this year pretty fun.”
One of the team’s biggest challenges for the rest of the season is mental toughness and being able to get tough when things don’t go their way.
“We’re lacking a little bit of toughness — toughness over all in the program,” Bullett said. “When things are going good, who is going to get a little bit tougher and who is going to stop the other team’s momentum — and coaching this can be pretty hard.”
Thankfully, as a football coach for over two decades, Bullett is no stranger to coaching a team through challenges and setbacks.
“You just have to stay positive as a coach and encourage them,” Bullett said. “I keep encouraging someone to step up and eventually it gets contagious and catches on.”
As the Bengals start the second half of their challenging season, Bullett has high hopes that leaders will emerge and players will continue to improve in all aspects of the game.
“We need to keep improving and we need to get better each week and we need to get a playoff spot,” Bullett said. “We are in a tough region, so being one of the top 14 teams to get a playoff spot is going to be challenging, so we’re going to need to fight for it.”
The Bengals play their last home game against Bingham High School on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Brighton High School stadium in Cottonwood Heights.