LAYTON -- Layton coach Jim Batchelor isn't especially picky about the number, as long as it's less than 10.
As in, less than 10 points allowed per game.
While a brutal schedule may make that target unrealistic week-in-and-week-out, what is for certain is that the Lancers need to be much-improved over a year ago when it surrendered over 23 points per contest if it figures to earn a spot in the postseason.
It won't be easy, however, as Layton faces eight 2010 playoff teams during the course of the year, including 5-A champion Bingham, runner-up Fremont and state semifinalists Jordan and Bountiful.
Batchelor, who also serves as defensive coordinator, thinks he has a group that might surprise a few people.
"I didn't schedule anybody I believe that we truly can't beat if we execute and that includes Bingham," Batchelor said. "The kids have bought into it. If we want to understand what it takes to play at the highest level then we have to play at that level. Some guys like to take an easy one here or there, but I think our kids will be prepared for our league. This team has an attitude and a swagger that we haven't had in a couple of years."
Batchelor is counting on the experience that his defense gained a year ago to pay big dividends as seven starters return. After giving up too many big plays in 2010, he hopes to be able to be aggressive and create havoc for the opposing offense. The play of the defensive line will be crucial where the Lancers have four senior starters back. Colton Green and Dominick Barnes will play outside with tackles Zac Smith and Jordan Morris plugging up the middle. Carlos Turner will provide depth.
"Last year we would hold, hold, hold and then give up a big play," Batchelor said. "They now know how to hold and then come up with a big play. I preach a physical, attacking defense. Our region has way too many good teams and coaches to just sit back and play a base defense."
Jamison Walker returns at linebacker and has earned Batchelor's trust with his consistently mistake-free performance. He will be joined by Jamison Moss and an up-and-comer in junior Daviaire Dickerson.
The Lancers have a shutdown cornerback in senior J.T. Anderson who had six interceptions as a sophomore and followed that up with four as a junior as teams virtually stopped throwing to his side of the field. Willie Uasilaa, Nick Johnson and Tyler Fox will also play corner with Devon Nippert and Marcus Kemp at safety.
After graduating Derek Thomas, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards a year ago, the Layton quarterback situation was up in the air until a few months ago when senior Tevita Uasilaa emerged.
"Tevita has some speed and some decent size," Batchelor said. "He came to me and said that he wanted to play quarterback and I said, 'I think that's a great idea. You have all the skills. You can run it and you can throw it. Now you need to believe in yourself, learn the playbook and take control in the huddle.' He's doing a great job running the team. He gives us more options. He's throwing the ball well and making good decisions about where and when to throw it."
Uasilaa will have a good group of wideouts to utilize, in Anderson, Johnson, Kemp and Fox.
The Lancers should also have a capable running attack out of its pistol set behind an experienced offensive line. Center Connor Valerio is back and will be flanked by Cazdyn Meacham, Xavier Stilson, Zack Wilding, Brayden MacKay and Turner.
At running back, Nippert and Frank Preciado will see the bulk of the carries and will be spelled by Macade Jenkins and Willie Uasilaa. The Lancers will also try to involve 230-pound fullback Miller Toa who, according to Batchelor, can not only block and run, but make catches out of the backfield.
Jackson Hatch will take care of both the punting and placekicking.
"I'm expecting us to be good defensively with those coming back and another year of experience," Batchelor said. "I'm also very excited about how the quarterback and the skill kids are coming along. They've really matured and progressed. We've had a good camp."
About the Lancers
Coach: Jim Batchelor (seventh year)
2010 in review: 4-4 Region 1; 5-6 overall, lost to Hunter, 17-10, in state 5-A play-in game
Returning starters: 13 (6 offense, 7 defense)
Players to watch: Tevita Uasilaa, senior, quarterback; Devon Nippert, senior, running back/safety; J.T. Anderson, senior, wide receiver/cornerback; Colton Green, senior, defensive end; Dominick Barnes, senior, defensive end; Zac Smith, senior, defensive tackle; Jordan Morris, senior, tackle; Jamison Walker, senior, linebacker; Nick Johnson, senior, wide receiver/cornerback; Connor Valerio, senior, center; Cazdyn Meacham, senior, offensive tackle; Xavier Stilson, senior, offensive tackle.