August Miller, Deseret News
Note: Layton finished with a 3-8 overall record in 2012 and tied for third in Region 1 with a 2-3 record. It lost to Davis 23-16 in a 5A play-in game.
LAYTON — Almost getting to the state playoffs last season wasn't enough for the Layton High football team. This year, the Lancers want more.
Layton lost a play-in game to Davis — a team it had soundly beaten earlier in the season — and it cost the Lancers a chance to qualify for the 5A playoffs.
So this season, Layton is determined to make some noise and crash the postseason party.
"This group, as a whole, they really want to win," said Layton High head coach Jim Batchelor, who begins his ninth season as head coach. "They want to be in the state playoffs so that when they leave here, there's no regrets.
"They got that little taste of what that's like with last year's play-in game against Davis, and that little taste made them want to host a playoff game and play at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Those are the things that kids dream of."
Batchelor will take over Layton's offensive coordinator responsibilities this season — "I must've lost my mind," he said with a laugh — after longtime assistant coach Scott Applegate hung it up, and Batchelor's got some strong weapons that appear capable of putting plenty of points up on the scoreboard.
At quarterback, senior Hunter Evans is a third-year starter with a great arm, Batchelor says, and he's got a good group around him, including the huge advantage of being surrounded by four returning starters on the offensive line.
"He's been through a lot and the game has slowed down for him," Batchelor said. "He did some good things a year ago, had some good numbers, and this year he's really got a good grasp of what he can and can't do. He sees the field a whole lot better than he has before."
Evans will have some solid receivers to throw the ball to this year, including sure-handed seniors Trent Keck and Andrew Astle, and senior slotback Jordan Jaramillo, a two-year returning starter who Batchelor says "will do a lot of things for us."
"He works hard and is a high-energy guy who goes out and makes plays," Batchelor said of Jaramillo.
Sophomore Coy Cannon will play other slotback spot, and junior Atlas Armstrong, who Batchelor regards as "the strongest kid in the building," will see some playing time at the slot, too.
Sophomore receivers Julian Blackmon and Jaren Clayton are also being counted upon to make major contributions to the Lancers' passing attack this season.
Brandon Nieto is a senior and returning starter at center, where he'll be backed up by junior Brad McKay.
The starting offensive guards will be senior returning starter Landon Brown and junior Wade Meacham, who moved into the starting role after senior Braxton Boatwright, who would've been the other starter, suffered a broken wrist in summer camp.
"It takes a lot of pressure off of you when you know that those guys are coming back," Batcehelor said of his team's experienced O-line. "I've watched that group progress and get better every game as a group. They understand each other well and know what to do."