“Jamahl is really a guy who has dedicated himself to the weight room in the offseason,” Benson said. “Physically he’s there. Now it’s just getting him mentally prepared to make decisions on the fly. He’s picking it up, and I feel very comfortable with him pulling the trigger.”
Highland will rotate running backs by committee this season: Viliami Sekona, Pisinga Vaenuku and Dewey Clark, who Benson described as “big enough body to play fullback and take that pounding but also a good enough athlete to get out on the wing." They all will be featured at fullback in different sets.
Sharing wingback responsibilities will be Adam Webber, Thomas Pembroke and Justice Jones. “I think he’ll be able to open some eyes," Benson said of Jones. "He’s very good with the ball in his hands going north and south."
Benson also noted that the offense is “picking up right now” and Ben Bergeson has emerged as the main option at receiver in the passing game.
(6 returning starters)
In addition to the defensive line, Webber is one of the top unknown talents in the state. He’s currently overlooked at the next level because of his short stature, but after starting the past two seasons he’s racked up 215 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.
However, apart from the obvious physical contributions, Webber’s mental intangibles influence the defense.
“He’s a leader. He’s a kid that’s really tried to develop himself as that. A lot of the times we label these kids as team captains and leaders, but don’t really give them a whole a lot of skills in which to go out and do it the right way,” Benson said. “Adam has really been who wants to be a leader, wants to do it the right way and wants the tools to do that. He listens to what you say. You give him a book to read or watch this movie and he soaks it in. When he gets out on the field, in a lot of ways, he’s able to be a coach out on the field.”
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: Second
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: Second
Bottom line: Highland definitely has the talent to contend not only for a region title, but also a state championship. It pulled the short end of the straw and travels to East and Bountiful — making the task extremely difficult. The Rams jump right into tough competition with games against Mountain Crest, Syracuse and Herriman before their first region game against an improved Kearns team. Making the playoffs is a foregone conclusion — how far this team goes is dependent upon how disruptive the defense is.
Highland coaching history
2006-current — Brody Benson (60-27)
2001-2005 — Ray Groth (40-21)
1996-2000 — Larry Wilson (43-14)
1986-1995 — Tom Kingsford (76-36)
1977-1985 — Roger DuPaix (55-38)
1974-1976 — Dennis McLaughlin (7-20)
1971-1973 — Tony Polychronis (10-17)
1966-1970 — Jerry Simons (24-24)
1961-1965 — Bill Fickinger (40-10)
1957-1960 — Larry Palmer (24-9)
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
1997 — Morgan Scalley, QB
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2010 — Nata Orchard, WR/DL
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Luti Nonu, OL
2012 — Bryan Mone, DL
2012 — Adam Webber, LB
2011 — Quincy Clark, DL
2010 — Sione Houma, RB
2010 — Ono Tafisi, OL
2010 — Desmond Collins, DL
2010— Hayes Hicken, K
2009 — Toi Tafua
2009 — Ono Tafisi, OL
2008 — Latu Heimuli, DL
2007 — Latu Heimuli, DL
2006 — Sean Swenson, QB
2006 — Liam McNally, RB
2006 — Braden Brown, TE
2006 — Tim Bickmore, OL
2005 — Thomas Bradley, QB
2005 — Jake Orchard, WR
2005 — David Nafe, DL
2005 — Brett Smith, DB
2004 — Bo McNally, QB
2004 — Marcus Mailei, RB
2004 — David Fainu, OL
2003 — Chris Sullivan, TE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.