Note: South Sevier finished with a 4-6 overall record and finished in sixth place in Region 2A South with a 2-5 record in 2012. It lost in the first round of the 2A playoffs, 55-18 against Millard.
MONROE — After a seemingly disappointing 4-6 campaign in 2012, the South Sevier Rams' expectations and excitement have never been higher heading into the 2013 season.
"Last year, we had a little bit of a struggle. But when you consider that we lost two games in the middle of the year by one point each, we were a couple of points away from being 6-4 or 7-3, as opposed to 4-6," said head coach Weston Zabriskie.
With an experienced and talented 12 starters returning — five on the offensive end and seven on defense — the Rams' depth is going to be key to their success this season.
"It's always good to have a lot of returners coming back. It gives you a lot of confidence and makes the learning curve for the new year a lot easier when you have a lot of guys," Zabriskie said. "We've got two or three three-year starters and we have a four-year starter coming back on the offensive line, so experience is always something good to have if they can get those other guys to step up," Zabriskie added.
Despite losing its top two running backs Garrett Johnson and Alan Pututau, who got the majority of the work in the backfield, combining for 1,029 yards and 13 TDs on 171 carries, the Rams have five solid running back options for the upcoming season.
The Rams expect their new backs Riley Blackham (45 carries for 98 yards and two TDs in 2012), Devin Bishoff, MaCalin Mitchell, Avery Healey and Roger Hall to fill the big shoes left behind by Pututau and Johnson. Zabriskie feels confident that these young, talented players will be able to step up and perform in the trenches, and feels that their depth in the running back position gives them an advantage.
"We are excited. We did lose our top two backs, but between Blackman, Bishoff, Mitchell, Healey and Hall, we feel that whichever one we plug in, they have the ability to get good positive yards every play," said Zabriskie. "They are all similar in talents, but they all add something different. We feel that we will always be able to have a fresh running back in there that gives an opportunity for big plays and always is going to give us positive yards."
The Rams will have five players on the offensive line with a lot of experience — in addition to a new offensive line coach — to help open up some holes for their running game.
South Sevier will also be looking to fill the void of losing its top two tacklers from 2012, Pututau and Patrick Baker, who combined for 175 tackles, four sacks and one interception. Pututau was an anchor for the Rams' defense as he averaged 9.9 TPG and even totaled an impressive 20 tackles in a single game.
"We lost those two (Pututau and Baker), but other than that, we've got just about everybody else coming back. Wyatt Anderson (OL/DL) is coming back, we've got Wyatt Hansen, the three-year starter, and we've got our top returning linebacker MaCalin Mitchell (33 tackles, two sacks in 2012) who'll be a two-year starter," Zabriskie said. "We've got a lot of good, solid experience coming back in a lot of defensive positions. We feel if we get a one or two touchdown lead, we should be able to rely on our defense to hold on to that."
The Rams are expecting big things from this season from four-year starting senior Wyatt Anderson (OL/DL), who totaled 48 tackles and led South Sevier with nine sacks, Avery Healy (37 tackles in 2012), Riley Blackham (33 tackles, two sacks in 2012), Trevor Tobler (28 tackles, two picks in 2012), Wyatt Hansen (20 tackles, two sacks in 2012), and even 2012 Honorable Mention All-Stater Trevor Jones, the Rams' starting quarterback and defensive back.