“What those outsides can do dictates what the rest of the defense has to do,” said Meacham.
Jackson and Stevens were so dominant at OLB, they were a big reason Manti’s defense only allowed 10.5 ppg.
Finding adequate replacements from a group on unproven linebackers could ultimately determine whether Manti’s jump to 3A is a successful one in 2013.
A year after all-state kicker Carlo Garcia booted a 54-yard game-winning field goal in overtime of the 2A state championship, Meacham said the kicking game will be a strength again this year. Lalo Munoz may actually be a more consistent kicker inside 30 yards and on PATs.
Manti Templars at a glance
Coach: Cole Meacham is entering his 13th season as Manti’s head coach. He’s amassed a 99-43 record and led Manti to 2A state titles in 2003, 2011 and 2012. He’s a graduate of Richfield High School.
(7 returning starters; Fly offense)
Quarterback Connor Aste is back after anchoring a very strong offense a year ago. The skill positions are the big question marks. Both running backs graduated from last year, and Meacham is counting on Kamren Fowles, TJ Pogroszewski, Lalo Munoz and Seth Jenkins to fill those roles collectively. Fowles was part of a three-man rotation at speed back last year and rushed for 126 yards on 34 carries. Pogroszewski was a starter at tight end last year. All three Manti speed backs will be new as well, but the coaching staff believes Bradly Sego, Tyler Albee and Eric Lee can fill those roles.
(5 returning starters)
The strength up this team is upfront as Penisamani Tafua, Tristan Olsen and Jared Schiess are all returning starters in the trenches. Pogroszewski is back after racking up 32 tackles at middle linebacker last season, but the outside linebackers are all unproven. The coaching staff has spent the summer trying to find replacements, which has involved moving secondary starters to linebacker.
Coaches preseason 3A South straw poll: First
Deseret News 3A South prediction: First
Bottom line: Manti went 11-1 each of the past two seasons, and never lost to a 2A team. Realistically, it was too good for 2A. Now, the Templars are paired with schools of similar enrollment, and battling programs like Juab, Delta and North Sanpete will be much more difficult. Realistically, there’s too much tradition at Manti to expect a significant drop off. However, winning a third-straight state championship seems highly unlikely considering the increased competition.
Manti coaching history
2000-current — Cole Meacham (100-42)
1992-1999 — Brennan Jackson (50-33)
1988-1991 — Bill Sullivan (13-24)
1985-1987 — Robert Gent (16-13)
1982-1984 — Cliff Hughes (1-24)
1980-1981 — Dewey Brundage (3-15)
1977-1979 — Ken Van Tasell (5-23)
1976 — Phil Hall (2-8)
1972-1975 — Russ Felt (17-18)
1971 — David Jensen (3-7)
1969-1970 — Bill Brown (7-11)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2012 — Austin Jackson, RB/LB
2011 — Aaron Austad, DL
2003 — Jason Thomson, OL
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Zane Stevens, RB/LB
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