High school football: Layton Lancers 2014 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 9 2014 12:30 a.m. MDT

Layton Lancers 2014 high school football preview

Note: Layton finished with a 4-7 overall record in 2013 and was fourth in Region 1 with a 3-3 record. It lost to Herriman 44-33 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

LAYTON — "The Bachelor" is a popular TV series in which a great-looking young guy seeks to find the love of his life from among a bevy of beautiful women who are all eagerly hoping to be "the one."

At Layton High, "The Batchelor" is a popular football coach who seeks to find the best guys from among a bevy of hard-working young men who are all eagerly hoping to be "the ones" — the right combination of players who can give the Lancers' team the best chance to win.

In both instances, it's never an easy task, and it can be full of heartache and frustration. But hey, it's always a fun and entertaining challenge to try.

Jim Batchelor is back for his 10th season as the Layton High head coach and, as always, he's got his sights set on building the Lancers into a solid squad that can challenge for the Region 1 title and make a run in the 5A state playoffs.

And this year's Layton team has a good blend of returning starters and promising newcomers who appear capable of doing just that.

"I like our chances," Batchelor said. "I think we've got kids coming back with good experience who played well for us a year ago, and I think they know what they need to do to be successful.

"It's always a year-to-year thing, but I think we have more depth than we've had in years past. We have several two-way players, but we've got some kids who have shown the ability to spell those two-way guys. We've got some good-looking juniors in the running back, receiver and defensive back positions, and I'm anxious to see what those kids can do."

The Lancers got off to a slow start last season, losing their first two games before making some changes to their offensive scheme that proved to be more productive. They won four of their next six games and wound up earning a state playoff berth.

"We started a little slow," Batchelor said, noting that the spread offense they utilized early last season did not work out as well as planned. "We realized our personnel and the mentality of our team was better-suited for a two-back formation and, from that point on, we were more productive.

"We finished better than we started. ... Our kids got better every week, which is what you always hope for as a coach."

This year, the Lancers' hopes will be bolstered by four returning starters on offense and seven on defense. And although they have to plug new players into the starting lineup in several key positions, Batchelor likes what he has seen from this group so far.

At quarterback, senior Steel Roberts, who started at safety last season and played quarterback on the JV team, is ticketed as the starter.

"He's a good athlete," Batchelor said. "He's definitely earned his shot at it."

Roberts will be pushed by a pair of good, young sophomore quarterbacks, Taylor Katoa and Caleb Taylor.

The running back positions look solid, with junior Keoni Larsen starting at tailback and senior Atlas Armstrong at fullback.

"Atlas is a 6-footer, 230 pounds and freakishly strong, who can run and do everything," Batchelor said. "We're hoping he has a breakout year for us.

"He's been starting at linebacker since he was a sophomore. He battled the injury bug a little bit his sophomore and junior years, so I think he was hesitant at times to go hit people. But he can run, he's strong, he's got good agility, he's got good speed, and he had a good summer camp. He's got all the tools, now we're just waiting for him to have that breakout year. Both he and Keoni have good hands coming out of the backfield."