The world of 1-A football is an unforgiving environment.
Already fighting a never-ending battle with a limited number of students who are willing to strap on a helmet, Layton Christian coach Will Hawes has a particularly steep hill to climb.
"We're always up against a bigger curve than the other 1-A schools, because of where we are located," Hawes said. "We are kind of a commuter school in a sense that we are a private academy, where students transfer in and out all the time, especially the kids from Hill Air Force Base, who are always on the move."
Losing talented running back Saunjay Hillman -- who transferred to Ogden High over the summer -- is a prime example of the type of turnover that faces the Eagles every season.
With those types of odds, the fourth-year football coach said he has a hard time retaining athletes for a full four years.
But don't count the Eagles out just yet.
Senior quarterback Andrew Griffin returns to help lead Layton Christian to the elusive 1-A playoffs. Griffin is a four-year starter -- a rare treat for the Eagles -- who tossed 114.6 yards per game and 11 touchdowns in 2009.
"If we didn't have him (Griffin), I don't know what we'd do," Hawes said. "We have some guys who could definitely fill in, but he's a leader you'd hate to lose."
Helping Griffin on offense is sophomore running back Nick Edwards, who will also see time at receiver. Also vying for carries will be freshman Tyler Barry. Senior offensive linemen Luis Santos and Aksel Kaasalaineal will pave the way for the inexperienced pair in the backfield.
The Eagles will look to sophomore linebacker Colin Greenhill to lead an athletic bunch on defense, who hope to cause havoc for opposing offenses this season. Greenhill -- a defensive captain -- suffered an injury early in 2009, but still made an impact in only three games.
In the trenches, senior defensive end Denzel Gibson -- who recorded 13 sacks and 88 tackles last year -- will line up next to Kaasalaineal, who piled up 48 tackles of his own. Junior Nic Perry will lead Layton Christian's defensive backs.
"We are a very young squad with a lot of ninth and 10th graders," Hawes said. "They will all see time in the first game and from there we will separate the players from the practice team guys."
Layton Christian opens its season tonight at Milford.
Coach: 2009 in review: Returning starters: Players to watch:
Coach:Will Hawes (fourth year)
2009 in review:3-6 overall, 0-3 1-A North, missed state 1-A playoffs.
Returning starters:4 (2 offense, 2 defense)
Players to watch:Andrew Griffin, senior, quarterback; Colin Greenhill, sophomore, linebacker; Nick Edwards, sophomore, tailback; Denzel Gibson, senior, defensive end/tight end; Tyler Barry, freshman, tailback; Aksel Kaasalaineal, senior, offensive/defensive lineman; Louis Santos, senior, offensive lineman; Nic Perry, junior, defensive back.
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