King leads Huskies on fieldOct 01, 2022 07:41PM ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
With every game this season being a loss, Hillcrest High’s football squad may not have much to say.
But their captain Roy King does.
“We have easily the best coaching staff we’ve had while I’ve been at Hillcrest without a doubt,” he said about Huskies’ head coach Brock Bryant and his assistants. “We probably have the least physically gifted team that we’ve had while I've been at Hillcrest, but I’ll take this coaching staff over physically gifted players because we’ve been exceeding what should be expected from players with our size. Our offensive line is 75% of our opponents’ size and we’re only giving up one or two sacks a game. We’re playing better than any recent team in our program because we are better conditioned. We’re doing things from a coaching level that takes advantage of our assets and they try to mitigate some of the inherent disadvantages of being a smaller and maybe not as physically strong of a team.”
King said this year, the Huskies are running “more crosswalks, getting angles, making sure that nobody really has to take on anybody head up and that’s helping to open things up in the run game. We’re running the ball better than we have in the last two years even though we have smaller linemen and a smaller running back.”
Instead of looking at games with lopsided scores against Viewmont and Stansbury high schools, King looked at the 0-3 season-opener loss against Carbon High and the 14-21 loss to Jordan High on the road.
“We could easily be 3-1 right now, but we’re not. We’re 0-4. We’re needing to learn how to win because our team doesn’t have a lot of experience with close games because we’ve always either won by 40 or lost by 50. This season, we’ve been tied in the last five minutes against Carbon or against Jordan, down seven in the fourth quarter. Winning close games isn’t something that anybody on that team has experienced. It’s just the winning mindset that we’re developing, and I think it will come. I’ve been a two-sport athlete (playing varsity tennis as well) at Hillcrest for years. You can’t play sports at Hillcrest without a chip on your shoulder. Everybody has an underdog mentality even when we play a 1-8 team because they expect to beat us, and everybody understands that,” he said. “Most Hillcrest athletes are seeing a change. Wanting that winning mindset is really keeping us motivated.”
After losing two more games, and with only four games left on the schedule, King realizes the Huskies won’t have a winning season his senior year.
“Our mindset will change with experience. We’ve started to get that experience and we’ve had two games where we’ve seen basically what not to do, so we’ve learned from those types of situations. Now we need to do the right thing to close out the games. Our conditioning will help. This year, we have maybe 13 players who are truly varsity-level athletes, which means that we have all, but two going both ways and playing on special teams. We’ve worked hard to be really well-conditioned and know if we are going to win games, it's going to be by seven or 14 points and we have the foundation to start doing that,” he said.
And the right attitude, King added.
“This is definitely the best morale I’ve ever seen on our team. There have been weeks after wins that our team was more down on themselves than after some of our close losses, which is a testament to our coaching and the leadership we have,” he said. “Our coaches are straightforward and a lot more open. There are games this season that we have played, and we’re outmatched everywhere on the field and instead of treating it like, ‘we’re just going to play our brand of football, and that’s going to be enough,’ our coaches are recognizing we are at a physical disadvantage, so their game planning is in a way that’s going to help us. For example, against Jordan, we were smaller than Jordan at every single position on the field, especially on the offensive line, and we still rushed for four and a half yards per carry. I think that’s because our coaches made those changes.”
In addition to the coaching staff, King said the new field house and weight room are helping the team prepare each year for the season, starting in February.
“We spend six months conditioning and getting our bodies prepared for football. We have three-hour practices and then, I run, I do 300 pushups on my own and we all hit the gym even when it’s not practice. We want to get better,” he said.
King believes that Hillcrest’s football program is on the verge of becoming stronger.
“In the past, schools had camps and youth leagues, so those players all played together and grew up knowing they’d play for that high school. We’ve had a lot of coaching changes, but now we’re focusing on building those relationships and building our culture. Kids want to come play football at Hillcrest, and we’re starting to see that. We’ve had bigger sections of the eighth-grade teams come up and play at Hillcrest instead of dispersing out the valley. I think as we build that culture at the high school, we’re going to continue to draw those players so we can start to have those physical advantages in our games,” said the veteran player who wears jersey No. 50. “I’m 175 pounds, and I’m starting two ways as lineman. That’s not a recipe for winning football — no matter how good I am in my job.”
King knows his playing days are limited — “I’m far too small and unathletic to play college football” — so his future plans are to enter the Naval Academy or West Point.
“My dream job is to be a high school or college history teacher, but I don’t really fancy being poor. I’m thinking a pilot or doctor,” he said.
King began playing football in seventh grade on a feeder team for Brighton High since he lived in the area.
“I came to Hillcrest for IB (international baccalaureate) program, definitely. I’ve played football my sophomore, junior and now, my senior year. I started all three years on three for varsity,” he said, adding that he has played on special teams, as well as linebacker and lineman. “I’m better at offense because I’m just more technically proficient. I’ve got really good hands and I’m one of the faster ones on the team and pretty agile of the bigger kids. I always have a speed advantage, I’m usually stronger than the person I’m lined up across from, and I have the technique to win.”
Through his three years, he has suffered a concussion, broken fingers, a shoulder injury and currently is playing with a broken thumb in a bright pink cast that is wrapped on game day with foam strips. He said he assures his parents he is OK.
“My dad played football and got a couple injuries that still bug him, so he’s worried about that happening to me. We can hurt ourselves doing a lot of things. I’m sure I’ve been more at risk of getting a significant injury driving to school than playing football,” he said.
In the meantime, King, Hillcrest’s student body officer who oversees activities and recently coached powderpuff football, plans to be on the field every last game this year.
“I’m having so much fun this year. The thing I like best is hitting people. Defensive end is where I’ve had the most fun,” he said. “I also like the camaraderie with football; it is unrivaled by any other sport. We’re not a dominant football program, but we still put in ridiculous amounts of work that very few people see. Nobody else goes through that except our friends on our team, so we have a bond that’s really strong and it’s highly motivating. On game day, we know everybody on the line has done everything we can. We’re ready.”