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Note: Carbon finished with a 4-5 overall record and was last in Region 12 with an 0-5 record in 2011. It did not qualify for the playoffs.
PRICE — For the first time in a decade, there are tangible reasons for people to get excited about Carbon football this fall.
Don’t be mistaken, the program still faces an uphill battle and is once again projected to finish last in Region 12. But, unlike past seasons, there is genuine reason to be optimistic about change.
Last year’s squad laid the foundation by winning four games — as many as the school won the previous five seasons combined — and now it’s up to the Dinos of 2012 to take the next step.
“Last year we had a good start to the season. We didn’t finish the way we wanted, but we definitely accomplished a lot of things last year. We had a good group of senior leadership, and this year I think we have just as good a group,” said coach Jeff Blanc.
None of those wins last year were region wins, as the Dinos missed the playoffs for the 11th-straight season. Against region foes Payson and Juab though, Carbon led at one point in the second half. Moral victories like that have gone a long way toward motivating the players this offseason.
“This year if we can minimize some of those mistakes in the second half and finish some games, we’re capable of pulling off a few region wins and getting into the playoffs,” said Blanc. “It’s something we’ve been talking about in the offseason. One of our goals is to make the playoffs and then see what happens at that point.”
Talk of the playoffs isn’t a pipe dream either like in previous years.
So much of that has to do with the sliver of success Carbon enjoyed last year by starting the season 4-0.
“It was a good boost — and not only for our players but for our school and most importantly our community. We saw a lot of people coming out and supporting the football program, and I think that’s going to spearhead us this year into the start of the season,” said Blanc.
Carbon opens against Grand on Aug. 17, a rivalry that will be intriguing for the first time in years.
There are several intriguing storylines offensively to watch heading into that game, and throughout the entire season.
Last year Carbon switched to the spread offense, and there was obviously a big learning curve associated with that. Quarterback Dakota Cisneros had a decent season in his first year in the offense with 1,225 yards and 10 TDs, but he’s poised for much better things this year.
“Last year was a learning experience, for not only the players but our coaching staff. We’ve made some tweaks in the offseason,” said Blanc.
Even though Carbon has several holes to fill offensively with just five returning starters, a move-in and the good health of another player will help immensely.
As a junior at Emery last season, Dominic Rondinelli rushed for 644 yards and three TDs on 100 carries. He transferred to Carbon in the summer — a major pick-up for the Dinos.
“That will really help us out quite a bit. He’s a heck of a running back. I think he’ll be a huge contributor to us,” said Blanc.
A healthy Jordan Blanc will make a huge difference as well. As a sophomore, he was Carbon’s leading rusher in the veer offense. An ACL tear sidelined him for his junior season, but he’s back to full strength for his senior year. He’ll play wide receiver this year, and he’s one of the fastest players in 3A after placing in the Top 6 in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet last spring.