"Things have gone a lot smoother than I expected, but there are still a lot of things to iron out," Ryan said. "We're going to change up our philosophy on offense and run the ball more. We'll look to attack on defense."
The Eagles are coming off a 2-7 season in which they won one region game (1-6) and were outscored by an average of 33-14. ALA defeated Carbon in Week 2 but endured a six-game losing streak before its next win. The Eagles were held to 10 points or fewer in five games.
Ryan, who has been with the team the past five years as defensive coordinator, understands changes are needed on offense.
"Before we used to run the spread, but now we've got some good-sized kids who can wear other teams out," Ryan said. "Running back is our deepest position, so we're going to try and move people out of the way."
Lincoln Henderson is expected to be the primary ball carrier, with Garrett Averett and Neil Davis also on hand. Hunter Smith will run the option attack at quarterback in the flexbone offense reminiscent of Georgia Tech and Air Force.
Defensively, the Eagles have eight starters returning and plan to be aggressive and quick. Defensive tackle Jake Staheli, middle linebacker Christian Stallings and strong safety McGregor Hall lead their respective units.
"We're looking to cut down on other teams' possessions by running the ball and the clock," Ryan said. "We're not going to throw all the time or have three-and-outs and give the ball right back."
The Eagles open the season by hosting North Sevier on Aug. 23.
American Leadership Eagles
ASSIGNMENT • Class 2A North
LAST YEAR • 2-7 overall, 1-6 Class 2A North
KEY RETURNER • Jake Staheli (OL/DL). Dominating two-way lineman participated in the BYU camp and brings a physical presence (6 foot 3, 250 pounds). He moves pretty well for his size, and his presence alone opens things up for his teammates.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Lincoln Henderson (FB). More of a receiving option last season, Henderson has bulked up to play fullback and is expected to handle the majority of the carries. The position is the deepest on the team.
BIGGEST HOLE • Depth. Beyond the starting lineup, ALA does not have the overall depth to handle injuries without missing a beat.
NEED TO KNOW • The team has committed fully to a weight lifting program for the first time. Work ethic is starting to develop as players better themselves for the present and future.