PLEASANT VIEW — Maybe Weber High’s color scheme — red, black and white — means it’s hard to see the red and white bullseye on the Warriors’ backs.
Or maybe head coach Matt Hammer is just that good at getting Weber to turn its attention to the upcoming season, no matter the amount of history the Warriors made with their Region 1 title last year, no matter how special that season was.
Either way, Weber can expect every opponent’s best shot this year as the defending region champions.
In turn, the Warriors’ opponents can expect a team that’s not interested in dropping off from last season. Weber is firmly planted in the region title contender discussion and not for the simple reason of being the defending champion.
“We’re doing everything the same. We know there’s a target on our back, but with knowing that, we’re grinding harder, so I think it’s helping us,” senior wide receiver Hudson Schenck said.
Schenck caught 46 passes for 707 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, all of which led the team.
He and senior Sione Moa (40 catches, 430 yards) make up a formidable receiving duo that should certainly help new quarterback Kohl Hogan.
Their task is going to be harder this year, because instead of getting “slept on,” as Schenck says the Warriors were last year, everyone knows about Weber.
People want to dethrone the champions.
“The bullseye this and that, deep down that’s what you want. Sometimes it’s harder to coach, but for me I don’t even think about it, we gotta worry about us,” Hammer said.
Weber has three tough non-region games, part of Hammer’s “iron sharpens iron” philosophy.
Everyone’s focused on the Aug. 17 opener at American Fork, a team that hung 54 points on Weber in last year’s season opener.
The Cavemen are widely considered to be a state semifinal contender this year.
“I think we need to win our first game to get that confidence, we lost our first one last year and it kind of gave us doubts, but we bounced back and beat Roy, and that kind of got us going,” senior linebacker Brandt Opheikens said. “But I feel like if we capitalize on the first game, we have a good chance of going all the way through.”
The region championship validated the coaching staff’s beliefs and practices. It also sparked a desire for more.
Hammer said the goal is to get to a semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium this year and anything less is considered a failure.
It starts with the little things. Hammer is obsessed with them and he’s intently focused on what’s in front of the team, but he brought up last year’s 26-17 quarterfinal loss to Lone Peak as an example of how easy it can go wrong.
He pointed to the several sacks the Warriors allowed, a holding call that facilitated a Lone Peak interception shortly thereafter, and a missed receiver on a sure touchdown.
“I don’t think it’s that far off, but I don’t think it’s that far off from losing either. So to being a 5-5 team to being a 9-2 team to being a 10-1 team, I don’t think there’s a big difference that way,” Hammer said.
Weber has a new special teams coach in Tate Lewis, a Fremont High graduate and former Southern Utah punter, and the older brother of offensive lineman Trevor Lewis.
Jayson Anderson, who was the defensive coordinator at Weber for two years before leaving for the Logan High head coaching job, is back coaching tight ends and cornerbacks.
Key stretch: Weeks 2-4 present a local rivalry against a tough Roy team and two region games against Clearfield and Northridge. All three are at home.
Streak busters: Weber ended multiple-game losing streaks against given opponents by beating the following teams last year: Syracuse (seven games), Davis (seven), Roy (six), Fremont (three), Northridge (two) and Layton (two).