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."
At linebacker, junior Armstrong will start along with senior Hayden Langston, with sophomore Keoni Larson providing depth along with Banks. Unfortunately, the Lancers lost senior Farid Cortez, who would have started this season at linebacker, with a serious knee injury during preseason conditioning.
Christian Cook, a junior, will handle the place-kicking chores, with Banks handling the punting.
Coach Batchelor likes this group a lot and says his starters could compete with just about any other team in the state. However, without great numbers on their roster, a lack of depth could become a problem for the Lancers if anyone goes down with an injury.
"It's a depth thing with us," Batchelor said. "Our starters are comparable with anybody in the state, but sometimes when you get a guy hurt, especially if he's a two-way kid, our drop-off on our backups sometimes is a little bit more than it is at some schools."
And, as for the Region 1 chase for the state playoffs, Batchelor said "it'll be a battlefield, like it always is."
He said Syracuse is definitely the team to beat in this league, with Northridge and Davis again being contenders and Weber High being much-improved.
But the Lancers have their sights set on climbing the league ladder and reaching the state playoffs this year. And after getting a sampler-size taste of postseason play last year, Layton High hopes to order the full-meal deal in the postseason this time around.
Layton Lancers at a glance
Coach: Jim Batchelor begins his ninth season as head coach at his alma mater, and he has guided the Lancers a 43-46 overall record at the school. In 2007, he guided Layton to a berth in the 5A championship game.
(6 returning starters; spread offense)
With Hunter Evans starting at quarterback for the third year, the Lancers' experience level is high. Throw in four more senior returning starters on the offensive line — center Brandon Nieto, guard Landon Brown, and tackles Zerek Olson and Stetson Wood — and you can see why Batchelor might enjoy serving as the team's offensive coordinator this season. With a solid receiving corps led by senior slotback and returning starter Jordan Jaramillo, Layton should not have any trouble putting points on the scoreboard this year.
(5 returning starters; 4-3-4)
Junior defensive end Mason Ewing started as a sophomore last season, and junior Atlas Armstrong aims to live up to his strongman name at linebacker. With plenty of experience in the defensive backfield, the Lancers are hoping they can improve over the unit that allowed more than 27 points per game last year.
Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Third
Bottom line: With a lineup sprinkled with ample experience on both sides of the ball, the Lancers look like they could be a program on the rise. Their midseason schedule, when they play three straight home games — Fremont, Bountiful and Syracuse — and four of five in all on their own turf, could tell the tale for this team, especially because the Lancers must finish with back-to-back road games against always-tough neighboring county rivals Davis and Northridge. Thanks to the luxury of having a returning quarterback and four starters back on the offensive line, they should be able to move the chains and gobble up plenty of time of possession this season. And if that, in turn, translates into points like it should, then Layton could be headed for its first state playoff berth since 2008. However, if injuries take their toll, they could severely sidetrack the Lancers' shot at success, because a lack of depth is a potential problem area.
Aug. 23 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 — at Clearfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 — FREMONT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — BOUNTIFUL, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — at Weber, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 — VIEWMONT, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — at Davis, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 — at Northridge, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Layton High School
All-time record: 218-244-1 (45 years)
Region championships: 10 (1969 co, 1971, 1974 co, 1977 co, 1978 co, 1979 co, 1987, 1993 co, 2007, 2008)
Playoff appearances: 25
All-time playoff record: 19-24
State championships: 1
State championship record: 1-3
Most played rivalry: 44 meetings with Clearfield dating back to 1968. Clearfield leads 23-21. Last met in 2010.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Layton ended Skyline’s state-record 262-game scoring streak (1986-2007) by whitewashing the Eagles 49-0 in a quarterfinal game in 2007. ... Layton played in the highest non-overtime tie game when it tied West 27-27 in 1970.
Layton coaching history
2013 — Doyle Holt (0-0)
2005-2012 — Jim Batchelor (43-46)
2000-2004 — Steve Smith (14-39)
1996-1999 — Carter Cook (10-30)
1991-1995 — Curtis Page (26-23)
1987-1990 — Tom Moore (13-24)
1985-1986 — Joe Wood (10-8)
1984 — Brad Hawkins (1-8)
1972-1983 — Gary Hansen (68-54)
1968-1971 — Dick Bubak (33-12-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2008 — Dallin Powell, OL
2008 — Thomas Bryson, DL
2007 — Gavin Green, QB
2007— Tyler Christensen, OL
2007 — Chad Wilson, LB
2004 — Austin Curtis, DL