Woods Cross returns all but one skill player from last season’s squad that averaged slightly over 28 points per game.
There certainly is a boat load of talent intermittently scattered across the layers of the offense. Quarterback Skyler Farnes, named second-team all-state last year and primarily gaining interest from Utah State, threw for 2,598 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. However, he struggled with forced decisions and late reads that correlated to 16 interceptions.
“He’s a true student of the game and he was put in a tough spot last year because the protection broke down a lot,” Spencer said of Farnes. “A lot of the picks came on late throws over the middle or scrambles where he was trying too hard to make the play and it got away from him. So, for him it’s been film study and in practice the emphasis has been ball security. He’s taken it to heart.”
During summer, Farnes has emerged as a field sergeant — adapting to the new offensive schemes quickly while taking command of the huddle.
Recent Stanford commit Sean Barton and Alton Brown, who’s also receiving interest from the next level, pace the backfield. Spencer describes the two sprinters as “the best tandem of running backs in the state.”
Barton is a freak athlete — there’s no other way to put it. Standing at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he’s been clocked at a sub-11 100 meters. As a junior, he rushed for 413 yards and nine scores while snagging 49 receptions for 903 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s just so big, so physical and so fast that he’s lethal,” Spencer said of Barton. “He’s going to rush for over 1,000 yards — no question in my mind. I don’t even have to worry about it because we’re going to try to get him 15 to 20 carries a game. If he gets 20 touches he’s going to score five touchdowns. I just think he’s that good.”
Filipo Mokofisi, already signed with Utah, is Farnes' main weapon at tight end, but is also readily complimented by other capable receivers.
The underlying concern about a potentially special offensive unit is the offensive line. It’s being built from scratch with many unanswered question marks still being worked out.
“It’s a concern,” Spencer said of the offensive line. “I know that we have the skill kids to be able to do damage. Our game is mostly going to be affected by the kids we have up front.”
(9 returning starters; Base 4-2-5 defense)
The defense was a major detriment last season, especially in the second half. Its inability to produce critical stops proved to be the disease of the 2011 season.
Spencer has implemented a base 4-2-5 defense tailored off Boise State and TCU. “With the flexibility with the base formations (we’ll) be able to defend the different styles of offenses that we see,” he said.
Barton, who will play linebacker for the Cardinal after returning from a planned LDS mission, is slated to inherit a different role this fall. He’ll rotate endlessly throughout the game at linebacker and safety to adequately allow him to survey the field. In 2011, he recorded 96 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions.
“Defensively is where he’s going to make his mark at the next level,” Spencer said of Barton when asked if he felt he was the best player in the state of Utah. “I’ve seen (Cottonwood QB Cooper Bateman) firsthand when he was sophomore — he torched us when I was at West. So, I know he’s legit. (But) I’ve never been around a kid like Sean Barton. He the most athletic, strongest, fastest kid I’ve ever seen in high school.”
Many of the players contributing on offense will also start on defense for the Wildcats. The lone exception is defensive end Jake Kocherhans, who is expected to impact substantially on the defensive side of the ball.
Coaches Region 6 straw poll: Fourth
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