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."
Chasen Andersen and Jaden Connor have looked good at inside linebacker, while Hunter Ballam, Taylor Thompson and Devid Sam are a trio of cornerbacks who have had a good offseason. D.J. Nelson will see some playing time at free safety, as will his younger brother Chase Nelson.
"The strength of our team is going to be the way we prepare ourselves to be successful and that we take control of the things we take control of and progress every day," Favero said. "Those areas in which we have experience, those guys should have great years. And those who are inexperienced need to develop quickly and put themselves in a position to be successful."
And if that happens, by season's end, some of this year's seniors will no doubt be candidates for a coveted spot on that hallowed "Wall of Fame."
Logan Grizzlies at a glance
Coach: Mike Favero begins his 13th season as Logan's head coach. He has compiled a 98-50 overall record in 12 seasons at the school. He is a graduate of Helix (Calif.) High.
(6 returning starters; spread offense)
D.J. Nelson gives the Grizzlies a great weapon who can both throw and run the ball. Schmidt and Artist are the other top returning weapons, while Cole, Ware and Pauni will anchor the O-line. Nelson's versatility and play-calling hold the key to another successful season.
(5 returning starters)
The front four of Wilding, Birky, Rice and Caden Andersen are all experienced, but Luke is the only other guy who's seen starting duty on defense. So getting the linebacker corps and secondary up to speed will be critical.
Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 5 prediction: SecondComment on this story
Bottom line: If Nelson stays healthy and Hartman can return to form, the Grizzlies' offense should be able to put plenty of points up on the board. The development of their defense, however, with six new starters among the back seven, may hold the key to Logan's fortunes. The region title may very well be decided on Oct. 7, when the Grizzlies go to Hyrum to face Mountain Crest, or a week later on Oct. 14, when Logan hosts Box Elder.
Aug. 19 BEAR RIVER, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 BOUNTIFUL, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Roy, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 SKY VIEW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Mountain Crest, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 at East, 7 p.m.