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The City Journals

Cottonwood football continues to rebuild a once proud tradition

Aug 20, 2018 03:48PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Bart Bowen calls a play during the Colts opening game of the season. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Brian Shaw  |  [email protected] 

Last year, new head coach Bart Bowen entered a Cottonwood Colts football program that literally was in tatters. So the former Kearns Cougars assistant set about to change things. 

He started by cleaning up the weight room and then moved on to the press box, getting out the window cleaner, some wipes and a broom and dustpan. During summer conditioning Bowen basically did the same thing—this time, with players who refused to buy in to his new way of thinking. 

In a matter of speaking, it was important to him because it represented a change in ideology—of thoughts and mannerisms. It worked at Kearns—a program facing as many, if not more challenges than that which he faces at Cottonwood; why not here? 

Out with the old, in with the new. And so now, in this his second season at the helm of the Colts, Bowen will now embark upon changing that which ultimately matters to alumni, to boosters and to students—the scoreboard. 

Last year, the Colts didn't win a single game. But, Bowen says he felt like he, and the kids, did what they had to do to change the oft-held public perception that the Colts have D-1 talent; they just don't always want to finish games out with a full-out effort. 

That seemed to change toward the end of last season as a number of freshmen and sophomores got significant playing time on the varsity squad. That experience is what Bowen believes will eventually turn things around at Cottonwood.  

For the first time in many years, the Colts have a 64-man roster to open the season. While it isn't on par with programs like Corner Canyon, Alta, Brighton and Timpview—all region foes—it's a sight better than last year when Cottonwood seemed to have about one-third of the 100 players other opponents had. 

Last year and the year previous, Cottonwood had about half of this year's roster total, forcing many players to play both ways. Valuable experience, to be sure, but it also led to many unnecessary injuries which hampered the Colts ability to play at their best. This year, Cottonwood will be loaded for bear from the outset. That said, some players will still have to play both ways. 

2018 also will see the same preseason opposition as last year—another welcome sight for Colts fans who nearly witnessed their school capture a victory over both Kearns—whom they lost to 49-32—and to Hillcrest. 

The only difference this year is that Cottonwood will open the season on the road at Olympus on Aug. 17, and then the Colts will return home to play three straight games—to Clearfield, to Kearns and to Hillcrest. Bowen said that he believes Cottonwood has a chance to turn those L's into W's before it begins region play.  

For starters, the Colts will be led by a new quarterback. Senior Hunter Workman will take all the snaps (watch his interview here) for Cottonwood and for the most part, he seems to be a humble, hardworking kid—a trademark that many players in this new Colts culture seem to have. Workman threw for two touchdowns last year in the loss to Hillcrest and had mop-up duty in several other games. 

Enter two new running backs—converted defenders according to Bowen. Throw in two new wide receivers as well—two who didn't play varsity football last season—and you have a Colts offense that will be learning from the get. The difference according to Bowen, is that these kids have completely bought into the program and hit that sparkling clean weight room hard in the offseason. Behind an offensive line returning four of its five starters is also a big help, added Bowen. 

With a stripped down, run-heavy game plan though, the Colts feel like they'll have a good opportunity to understand what they're doing right away—a departure from the more complex spread offense Bowen said he typically employs. But, it does prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks. 

On defense, the Colts will have to have their O-linemen play both ways. But that 4-2-5 defensive scheme will be watered down as well, giving the younger players who got mostly JV and some varsity minutes an opportunity to learn in the five preseason games they're playing in 2018. 

The preseason will wrap up with a game against Wasatch on Sept. 14. While a state tournament berth is still probably a year or two away it's clear that Bowen has stamped his way on everything the Colts are doing as they look to return to their glory days of the late 2000s.