SMITHFIELD – Craig Anhder will get a rare break this week, even though it isn’t much of a break. The Sky View head football coach has had to deal with major changes the last few years. The jump to 5A last year, replacing 19 offensive and defensive starters to start this year, and soon, he will have to deal with his whole team and high school splitting in half.
But this week’s bye will be a break from all that – sort of. He and the other coaches will be taking their wives out to dinner. The other part of the Friday night date? They might just go catch a football game in Hyrum to scout two future opponents.
And why not take advantage of it? Not only does the game feature rival Mountain Crest, but the Mustangs are taking on Roy, who also happens to be Sky View’s next opponent and the only other team with a perfect in Region 1 record.
If Anhder’s Bobcats can pull out the win next Friday it would go a long way in the quest for a second-straight region championship, and the team is seemingly doing it against all odds.
Last year’s Sky View team was in its first year of 5A competition, Utah’s highest level of high school football. The Bobcats went undefeated through the regular season and didn’t lose until the semifinals in the state tournament.
But after such a successful inaugural 5A season many people wrote them off. Only four returners came back from last year’s squad: three players on defense and a kicker. Every offensive starter had to be replaced.
“Those three returning have helped us get a jump on the defense, they have really come together,” Anhder said on KVNU’s Full Court Press program Wednesday. “If we could take away one game, they’ve really been shutting teams down and not allowing a lot of points because of their aggressiveness and the way they’ve bought into the system.”
That one game was a 42-35 loss to Highland High in Salt Lake City. Besides that, this previously inexperienced team has won its other five games and has its sights set at another playoff run.
Friday’s game in Hyrum isn’t the only thing from Mountain Crest Anhder can look at in order to plan ahead. When Ridgeline High opened last year it created a lot of chaos in the south end of the valley. Some Mountain Crest players left to play ball for the RiverHawks, others stayed. It was an inevitable break up of a succesful football program. Now, with Green Canyon being added to the list of Cache Valley high schools, Sky View High will be going through the same thing next year.
Anhder, who will be starting the Green Canyon football program when this season is done, said the transition is going to be tough.
“It’s kind of like taking your family and splitting it in half,” he said. “Maybe that’s an extreme example, but it’s going to be hard. There are going to be kids that I’ve built relationships with that are going to be staying at Sky View while I go to Green Canyon.”
Anhder said he and the rest of the coaching staff have felt a responsibility for both future football programs. There will be two starting quarterbacks coming next year from this year’s single Sky View team, as wells as two starting kickers, 10 starting offensive lineman and double every other position. Anhder said he can’t dwell too much on extra development and said the fair thing is to play whatever players are best at their positions, regardless of what team they will be playing for a year from now.
“We’ve stuck true,” he said. “I have been accused of playing certain players because they live in certain boundaries, but I can look anyone in the face and be absolutely honest and say ‘That has never happened.’”
“We’ve really tried to focus on, ‘Let’s make this last season great.’ We don’t know how it’s going to end up, we know we’re going to go through a split.”
Anhder knows big decisions are coming, but he’s saving those worries for another time. Right now, he just wants to finish this season right and enjoy it while it lasts. After all, it is bye week, and he is still the coach of a Sky View team that has a lot of unfinished business.