High school football: Layton Christian Eagles 2014 preview
Note: Layton Christian finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2013 and was fourth in 2A North with a 3-3 record. It lost to Parowan 27-17 in the 2A first round.
LAYTON — Despite making the jump to 2A last year, Layton Christian held its own quite well, qualifying for the playoffs and finishing with a .500 record.
Realistically, it was a tale of two seasons for the Eagles, who are eyeing more consistency in the second year under head coach Doyle Holt.
Facing many of the bottom-tier 2A teams early in the season, Layton Christian jumped out to a 5-1 record. Once it ran into the meat of its schedule, though, it couldn’t sustain the momentum, losing to South Summit, Millard and North Summit to end the regular season and then to Parowan in the 2A first round.
The Eagles were competitive in each of those games, however, which Holt believes has laid a solid foundation for 2014.
“I think our kids believe in the system a little bit more. They had three coaches in four years before I got here. The stability this spring has been overwhelming for them. They’ve done a good job buying into what we’re doing, understanding what we’re doing,” said Holt.
The coach admits his team probably snuck up on opponents last year who subconsciously pegged Layton Christian as a pushover 1A program, but that won’t be the case this year.
“We’re going to have to play better football just to be 5-5 again,” said Holt.
With seven returning starters on both sides of the ball, he believes that’s very realistic if his players cut down on the execution mistakes from a year ago.
Layton Christian won’t have to wait long to discover if the attention to detail and all the hard work in the weight room paid off. The day before the rest of the state kicks off the 2014 season, Layton Christian hosts Duchesne in the Thursday KJZZ game on Aug. 21 at 3 p.m.
Duchesne enters that game on a 47-game winning streak, and five of those victories have come against former 1A rival Layton Christian — including a meeting in the 2011 1A title game.
“It’s going to be a big one. We’re not their favorite team on their schedule, and they’re probably not our favorite team on our schedule. It’s been a rivalry for a long time,” said Holt.
While the Duchesne game has served as extra motivation throughout the summer, Weeks 7, 8 and 9 will again define Layton Christian’s season. It went 0-3 during that stretch against South Summit, Millard and North Summit last year, and those same three teams line up again this year.
Experience could help turn the tide.
Grayson Jackson is a returning starter at quarterback, and Holt said the junior is a quintessential game manager who won’t make nearly as many mistakes as he did a year ago.
“It was a huge learning curve for him last year. He’s smart and will be able to manage the emotions in game better, be a little more even keel,” said Holt.
Jackson has an array of athletic, international receivers to spread the ball around to. Ilari Laine is a 6-foot-7 receiver from Finland who turned heads at the Utah State combine this summer, while Bailey Kenter is from Australia.
Kenter averaged 49.8 yards per punt last season, ranking in the top five nationally. With Kenter’s hang time and Layton Christian’s athletic coverage guys on the outside, no team in 2A can switch field position better in special teams.
LCA’s defense, which ranked in the middle of the pack in 2A last year, should be better suited to capitalize on the field position.