LAYTON — The bad news for the Layton Lancers was they went 2-7 last year and finished in sixth place in a region of seven teams.
The good news was they were miles better than in 2017 when LHS didn’t win a game and lost all nine contests by an average of 26.4 points.
In 2019, the Lancers think they have a team that can continue the upward climb.
They have a majority of their starters back. They have a big senior class.
Perhaps most importantly, they’re not in the middle of learning a new offense and defense like they were last year at this time.
“If you want to compare years, last year at this time we’re still trying to teach the basic of offense and defense. So this year we’re obviously a lot further ahead,” head coach Tyler Gladwell said.
The obvious troublemakers for opposing defenses are dual-threat quarterback Landon Brant, receiver Nate Atkinson and running back Caden Winn.
The not-so obvious is on the offensive line where the Lancers may end up averaging 260 pounds across the board.
For instance, Mason Clark, a senior returner, checks in at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. Lexton Adams checks in around 6-foot-2, 260.
That combination, plus an extra year of familiarity with the offensive schemes, lends itself to the prospect that the Lancers could be hard to stop on offense this year.
“Most of us played varsity our sophomore year as well and then we finally get our shot to do our thing junior year,” Atkinson said. “We were very excited with it and we’re ready for this year. We have a lot more experience now and it should help us.”
Clark, who plays left tackle and defensive line, thinks the team is going to be stronger and in better shape this year thanks in part to a new strength and conditioning coach.
"Our offensive line and defensive line are going to have to rotate a lot so we have to make sure we're very conditioned," Clark said.
As far as his assessment of the team, Clark was blunt.
“We should be pretty darn good,” Clark said.
Plenty of eyes will already be on Brant, who can throw well and then take off and run anytime. Winn can run well inside and outside.
Plenty more eyes will be watching Atkinson, who showed last year he was particularly dangerous with the ball in his hands and could hurt teams from the running back, slot and wide receiver spots.
Gladwell says the team is going to lean on its seniors because, he says, if you have a big senior class, that’s what wins games.
“They’re the ones who — it’s their senior year and want to do everything they possibly can to have success right now because they know that’s it,” Gladwell said.
Having all those things in its favor won’t automatically translate to wins.
Layton hardly got off on the right foot in games, getting outscored 79-27 in the first quarter of their nine contests in 2018.
Costly penalties popped up at inopportune times.
Gladwell says if the team stacks good practices together, then the Lancers will be good. But it means being good on Monday, being better on Tuesday, being better on Wednesday, so on and so forth.
If they can do that, people will quickly forget the past two years of Layton football.
ROYAL RUMBLE: Layton and Roy are in the same football region for the first time since 2010. The Lancers have interestingly won eight straight region games against the Royals dating back to 1991.
KICKING PARTY: Layton is the only school that has had multiple kickers make four field goals in a single game: JD Christensen (1998), Jordan Ortiz (2005) and Mike Petroff (1982).
2018 SEASON: 2-7, 1-5 in Region 1, missed the playoffs. It was a massive improvement upon the winless 2017 campaign.
2019 OPPOSITION RECORD: 44-51 (.463).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Landon Brant (QB), Mason Clark (OL), Nate Atkinson (WR/RB/S), Lexton Adams (OL), Micah Parkinson (WR/S), Caden Winn (RB/LB), Austin Graham (WR), Collin Heygood (DB).
STRENGTHS: Big senior class, big offensive line.
WEAKNESSES: Execution and penalties.
RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (7 offense, 6 defense).
BASE OFFENSE/DEFENSE: Spread/4-3
BY THE NUMBERS
17.3: points per game last season. Curiously, Layton scored 52 points in its three non-region games (17.3 ppg) and 104 points in its six region games (17.3 ppg).
68: Total points allowed by Layton’s defense in the 1977 season, an average of 6.2 per game.
Aug. 16: Skyline, 7 p.m.
Aug. 23: at Brighton, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30: at Syracuse*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Roy*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: Davis*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Weber*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: Clearfield*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Fremont*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Northridge*, 7 p.m.
*Region 1 game