Note: Sky View finished with a 9-3 overall record in 2013 and was second in Region 5 with a 5-1 record. It lost to Timpview in the 4A quarterfinals.

SMITHFIELD — The Sky View Bobcats didn’t need any help finding motivation for the 2014 football season.

“Our kids already felt like they had something to prove,” said Sky View coach Craig Anhder.

So the fact that both the coaches poll and the Deseret News predictions have the Bobcats as Region 5’s No. 3 team just fuels a fire that was already burning.

“Those polls kind of help that chip,” Anhder said. “It gives the kids a little bit more fire in their eyes, and maybe they’re more intense and practice with more focus.”

Last year the Bobcats were predicted to finish fifth. Instead, they finished second behind undefeated Logan. And while the team lost a lot of its veteran players to graduation, the Bobcats return enough talent that they feel confident about this season’s challenges.

“Our kids believe we’re better than last year,” Anhder said. “We were chosen to finish fifth last year and finished second. I think we’re pretty eager to get out there to prove to everybody what we’re capable of.”

Offensive success will begin with senior linemen Colton Durrant and Tyler Downs.

“They’re great interior linemen,” said Anhder. “They understand the game and the intensity it takes to be successful.”

Junior Garrison Beach will likely be the team’s quarterback after a summer of impressive performances.

“He’s performing very well,” Anhder said of the first-year starter. “He’s connecting well with receivers.”

Defensively, the Bobcats will rely on players like junior defensive end Max Christensen.

“He is stronger than last year and faster,” Anhder said. “He is another returning starter that has a lot of passion.”

The Bobcats will be young with a lot of juniors in the starting lineup.

“I think they have a belief that they can accomplish their goals,” Anhder said. “They’re tough, hard-nosed kids, and they’re not afraid to be physical. Our receivers aren’t afraid to block; our corners aren’t afraid to tackle. They’re doing a very good job and I appreciate that.”

Ander said having a roster full of underclassmen makes every day an adventure.

“Every day after practice I go home ecstatic and a little frustrated,” Ander said with a laugh. “Our strength at the moment would be our offensive and defensive lines. We have good size, good athleticism.”

The roller coaster isn’t always a bad thing, especially early in the season when all of the challenges come from within the program.

“If the offense did well, it mean the defense slipped,” Anhder said. “If the defense has a great day, it means the offense struggled.”

While the team doesn’t have a long list of returning senior starters, it does have a lot of quality players.

“The one thing I really enjoy is that we have good depth,” he said. “As we play ourselves, we’re challenging ourselves. Every day in practice is very, very competitive.”

The coaching staff has created a system in which players compete through the year, even at practices.

“We’ve created a competitive atmosphere,” Anhder said. “In practices you can hear the kids cheer and get excited just like they won a game. I think that competitive atmosphere makes us a little unique.”

Ander said this year’s team is better in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t mean it'll automatically have a better record.

“There are things we do better than we did last year,” he said. “There are things we don’t do as well. But being better is relative to the situation. Overall, we have more pros than cons, but that doesn’t say anything about how the season will go. If everyone else has gotten better, we may not even have the same record.”

Anhder said he feels like Region 5 is one of the toughest in the state — and that’s not a complaint.

“It’s fun to play quality opponents,” he said. “You can never relax. You have to be sharp every game. … We want to be tough and rise to the occasion.”

Sky View Bobcats at a glance

Coach: Craig Anhder begins his 10th season as Sky View’s head coach this fall. The Mountain Crest and Utah State alum has earned a 63-38 record in that time.

Offense

(4 returning starters; Spread offense)

The Bobcat offense will be run by junior quarterback Garrison Beach, who led the program’s junior varsity team last year. Junior wide receivers Bryce Mortensen and Alex McRae will be experienced targets for Beach. Senior running back Levi Hammer will lead the team’s ground game.

Senior Tyler Downs and junior Colton Durrant will anchor the team’s offensive line. They’re not only physically talented, but they are also capable team leaders.

Defense

(4 returning starters)

Some of the team’s best athletes will play both offense and defense for the Bobcats. Juniors Colton Durrant and Max Christensen will lead the team’s talented defensive line, while senior linebacker Levi Hammer will provide both experience and toughness. McRae will also play defensive back for the Bobcats.

Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Third

Bottom line: Sky View promises to be one of those teams that makes the region battle fierce and unpredictable. The Bobcats return enough experience that leadership shouldn’t be an issue. They also have enough talent that they should be able to compete with any other Region 5 squad. They have depth that some of the other teams do not, and that will help them in a game where injuries to key players can change the course of a season.

In a sport like football, the mental game is so crucial that how the Bobcats handle that “chip on their shoulder” could swing those close games in their favor — or just out of reach.

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Sky View coaching history

2005-current — Craig Anhder (63-38)

2004 — Dan Cox (4-7)

1999-2003 — Perry Christiansen (17-34)

1993-1998 — Doug Snow (19-36)

1990-1992 — Bill Brechler (12-16)

1983-1989 — Jan Hall (27-41)

1981-1982 — Jack Robinson (16-4)

1978-1980 — Doug Adams (9-19)

1968-1977 — Earl Lindley (58-30-3)

1964-1967 — Glen Oliverson (8-21-5)

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Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2013 — Seth White, OL

2012 — Nelson Griffiths, K

2008 — Eric Berntson, DL

2008 — JD Falslev, Specialist

2007 — Adam Weston, LB

2007 — McKade Brady, DB

2006 — Jase Hill, QB

2006 — Britain Martin, WR

2006 — Chad Champlin, LB

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com