Note: Juab finished with an 8-4 overall record in 2013 and was second in 3A South with a 4-1 record. It lost to Judge 41-20 in the 3A semifinals.
NEPHI — The road to last year’s revamped 3A state championship traveled through Judge Memorial, but the tides might be shifting south this year, and Nick Robins is the reason why.
Last year the quarterback threw for over 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns to lead Juab into the 3A semifinals, and this year the SUU commit is back and hungrier than ever.
“We’ve got a taste of that college field and got to the semis and I definitely think we can win it this year,” said Robins.
Robins completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,097 yards last season and a very impressive 29-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Last season, unfortunately, came to a bittersweet end in the semifinals against Judge when Robbins broke his arm on the second possession of the game.
Collectively though, whether Robins had stayed in the game or not, Juab just couldn’t match up with Judge’s physicality. That’s been a point of emphasis all offeseason.
“We felt we needed to get stronger. A couple teams kind of ran over us last year, but we’ve been working our butts off in the weight room and a lot of guys are getting bigger and stronger and we’re going to be a lot better team this year,” said Robins.
Judge and Manti both put up 41 points on Juab last year, and as a result defense is the question mark coming into the season with only three returning starters.
With such a strong offense, Juab’s defense doesn’t need to morph into the Seahawks defense, but it does need to get a few more stops than last year against the quality opponents.
“That’s what we’re looking at and trying to emphasize, because we feel we should have the weapons to score some points and move the ball, but it’s a matter of if we can shut teams down,” said Juab coach Mike Bowring.
With Robins slinging it around the field, just a little defensive support should be good enough.
“We’ve gone to a few seveon-on-sevens and some things and he’s throwing the ball really well right now. He’s one of the big leaders on our team, and it’s just nice to have somebody that’s got a year of experience under them and he had a great year last year,” said Bowring. “I kind of use him as another coach. A lot of times I’ll ask him what he’s seeing and what he likes and nine out of 10 times he’s right.”
In addition to a great understanding of Juab’s spread offense, Robins also has the luxury of sitting in the pocket behind four returning starters on the offensive line.
The only question is who's going to catch all those passes besides returning starter Dedric Davidson. The senior caught 31 passes for 659 yards and 12 TDs, but the other four Juab receivers who had double-digit receptions all graduated.
Kayden Whiting should emerge as one of those targets at slot receiver. He would’ve played a larger role last year, but he missed most of the season with an injury.
Nobody else has any real varsity experience, but they’re all hungry knowing a quarterback of Robins quality is throwing the ball.
“About half the time he throws to somebody other than the primary guy because he has that vision and that knowledge to check down to that second and third option,” said Bowring.
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