PLAIN CITY — Fremont receiver Tate Lewis has mixed feelings about his first season of varsity football.
The 6-foot-7 standout was good enough to break into the Silver Wolves' starting lineup as a sophomore two seasons ago. He enjoyed getting varsity playing time as an underclassman. He did not, however, like losing almost every week. Fremont went 1-9 and took last place in Region 1.
"It was fun for me because it was a new experience and the game was a lot faster," Lewis said. "But, uh, it sucked. It wasn't very fun because we only won one game. It was hard to go through."
Lewis and the rest of the Silver Wolves' football experience in 2010 has been the complete opposite.
It took just two seasons for Fremont to go from worst to first in Region 1. The Silver Wolves, who will play Bingham in the 5A championship game on Friday, have won 11 straight games. Their 11 wins and 11-game winning streak are both school records.
"It's a memory that will stick with us for the rest of our lives, I'm sure," Lewis said of Fremont's 2010 season.
There isn't any one factor or player that's helped the Silver Wolves complete their quick and remarkable turnaround. They say it's a combination of team unity, senior leadership and being dedicated in the offseason.
Fremont is a young team that has achieved things that most people thought would have to wait until 2011. The Silver Wolves, with only 12 seniors on their roster, have made it to the 2010 5A title game by accomplishing what coach Kory Bosgieter set as goals in the offseason.
"All last winter we talked about three things that will determine our success," Bosgieter said. "Number one was how fast we mature because we are young. Number two was how close we come together — our unity. Number three is how important football is off the field to them."
There is no doubt that the Silver Wolves grew up fast. They won overtime games against Syracuse and Northridge, beat Weber with a last-minute field goal, and claimed the Region 1 championship by beating Davis on the Darts' home field.
"This has been a lot of fun," Bosgieter said. "It's been fun to watch the kids grow and come together. To see us fight through some games where probably no one thought we could win and do it, that's been awesome. It's been fun to watch the kids' confidence increase. We haven't arrived by any means, but it's been good."
Being a tight-knit group has been one of Fremont's team strengths. Seniors Lewis and defensive back Bo Smith saw firsthand in 2008 that a team that lacks unity will struggle. This year's team is like family, they say.
"We don't want to let the guy next to us down," Smith said. "We'll do whatever it takes so that we don't disappoint our teammates."
"It doesn't matter if you're a senior, junior or sophomore — you're a teammate," adds senior receiver/defensive back Tayson Wilson. "Everyone's got each other's back. Who cares who gets the credit? We want to win. We have a will to win. That's what we call it."
The Silver Wolves also excel off the field. In addition to being humble, polite and good citizens, they're excellent students. Fifteen players in the program had a 4.0 grade-point average in the first quarter, and 37 others had a 3.7 GPA or higher.
"Our guys work very hard in the classroom, too," Lewis said.
Of course, you need good players in order to improve by 10 wins in two seasons. Fremont has plenty of them. Junior running back Nick Vigil has rushed for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lewis leads the team in receiving with 692 yards, and quarterback Aaron Van Woerkom has tossed 13 touchdown passes.
The Silver Wolves' defense is the third stingiest in 5A, allowing just 13.25 points per game. Bryan Thompson leads the unit with 89 tackles and four sacks.
Fremont hasn't been nearly as dominant as Bingham this season. The Silver Wolves have just found ways to win, as they did by forcing four turnovers against Lone Peak in the semifinals last week. They've fought through adversity, and made all the necessary plays to have a chance to compete in a state championship game for just the second time in the school's football history.
"I don't know if I've ever been around a group that wills themselves to win like these guys do," Bosgieter said. "When things look down and out, they'll just will themselves to win. Now, we'll see if it's unconditional."