High school football: Logan Grizzlies 2011 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 10 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

Johnny Luke, Logan

NOTE: Logan High finished 8-3 overall in 2010 and went 4-1 in Region 5, claiming a share of the league title. The Grizzlies lost to Timpview in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.

LOGAN — The athletic "Wall of Fame" stretches far and wide at Logan High School, displaying rows and rows of framed photographs of the finest athletes in the school's glory-filled history.

Many of them went on to be collegiate stars, and several have made a name for themselves in the professional ranks, too. It's an impressive sight to see, and it speaks to the tremendous tradition of excellence this proud Cache Valley school has established for many decades.

This year, the Grizzlies will be hoping to hang a few more football stars' photos on the wall when they embark on another rugged Region 5 campaign in a few weeks.

Logan earned a share of the league title last year and, with several key players returning from that team, the Grizzlies could be strong contenders for another region crown this time around.

Mike Favero begins his 13th season as Logan High's head coach with a splendid blend of experienced veterans and promising newcomers.

"We've got a good core of guys back that were starters for us last year," Favero said.

Leading the way on offense are senior tackle Dalton Cole, senior guards Hampton Ware and Latu Pauni, senior running back John Schmidt, junior wide receiver Beau Artist and senior quarterback D.J. Nelson.

Nelson's older brother Riley — now playing quarterback for BYU — has his photos up on that wall. D.J. Nelson accounted for almost 2,500 yards of total offense last season, when he threw for around 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns and gained another 675 yards on the ground for the Grizzlies.

"We get great leadership from D.J. and his ability to be a dual-threat guy who can both run and throw the ball, as well as getting our offense into the right play call," Favero said.

"He's highly competitive and highly intelligent, so those are pretty good qualities in a quarterback. Especially when he's smarter than the coach — that's always a plus — and I don't say that as a joke. Whenever you've got a guy that's that smart, you're in good hands."

Nelson's starting backfield mate, Schmidt, is also being counted upon to help spearhead the Grizzlies' offense.

"John's had a great offseason," Favero said. "John's really improved his abilities in our strength-training program, so he's poised to have an excellent season."

At wide receiver, the Grizzlies will look forward to the return of wide receiver Jamison Hartman, a senior who would've been a returning starter before getting injured.

"He was set up to have a great year, but he broke his leg and is currently rehabbing," Favero said. "Hopefully his rehab goes well and we'll get him back at some point in the season."

Over on defense, the front four features all returning starters — juniors Jacoby Wildman and Jaxton Birky at the tackle spots, and junior Caden Andersen and senior Austin Rice at the defensive end positions — and senior safety Johnny Luke also returns.

"All of our defensive front four are back, but six of our back seven will all be new guys," Favero said. "We're happy that our D-Line is back, and that's obviously an important part of a successful defense.

"We obviously have to develop six new starters in our back seven. So there's going to be a lot of opportunity for new guys to have a chance to become starters in the secondary and at linebacker."