Note: Syracuse finished with an 8-2 overall record in 2013 and was second in Region 1 with a 5-1 record. It lost to Lone Peak 21-13 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
SYRACUSE — They've only got a small handful of starters who'll return here from last season. And, in general, there would seem to be a lack of experience at the varsity level, and maybe even a few glaring holes to fill.
At some high schools, that might be cause for alarm, and maybe reason to start looking around for a panic button to push.
But not at this school.
Syracuse High, after all, doesn't rebuild. Instead, it seems the Titans just reload every year.
Russ Jones returns for his eighth season as head football coach at the school and, over his first seven years here, all he's done is guide this proud Davis County program to six straight postseason berths, including an appearance in the 5A finals in 2012 and a couple of other seasons when they reached the state semifinals.
But with just five returning starters off last year's team that finished second in Region 1 and went 8-2 overall, it would seem this might be a down year for the Titans.
The league's other head coaches certainly don't see it that way, though, voting Syracuse as the league's No. 2 team behind defending champion Davis High.
Jones isn't about to make any bold predictions. But he's seen enough from this group of guys that he expects them to be right in the thick of the mix come playoff time.
"We've got a lot of good kids that come from good families, and I think it all comes down to chemistry and how they get along and how they play together," he said. "We don't have a lot of experience taking the field, but the kids work hard and they do everything we ask them to do."
One of those hard-working kids is senior quarterback Kole Tracy, the Titans' returning starter — one of just three starters who are back on the offensive side of the ball.
"I thought he had a really good year for us last year," Jones said of Tracy, who threw for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for another 175 yards despite missing the first part of last season with a thigh injury.
"He went on an LDS trek and hurt his thigh, and he missed the first 2 1/2 games," Jones said. "You could still tell he wasn't at full strength when he came back. He wasn't as quick or as fast as he is now. I think he's 100 percent now.
"He's a great leader; he's got all the tools. I think if he wanted to go to another level, he could in college. He's just a dang good, solid athlete, the kind you'd like to have all the time."
Tracy will be backed up by junior QB Chase Bauerle, who started the first three games of the 2013 season and threw three touchdown passes before Tracy returned.
"He did a good job for us when he was in there," Jones said of Bauerle. "He's a really good backup, really smart and heady."
At running back, senior Brandon Goncalves, who ran for 200 yards last year, leads a large continent of ballcarriers that also includes seniors Jacob Winger, Korbin Markos, Cameron Pingree, Broderic Hall, Zach Daines, Cody Murphy and Tyler Hale, and juniors Colton Steggell, Derrell Atkinson, Brayden White, Wyatt Glover, Skyler Mueller, Drake Thompson and Tyler Harward.