Note: South Sevier finished with a 4-7 overall record in 2013 and was fifth in 2A South with a 2-4 record. It lost to Grand 27-20 in the 2A quarterfinals.
Experience, leadership and needing to stay healthy are three of the most raised talking points this time of year among high school football coaches, but in the case of the South Sevier Rams, they’re three elements that will make or break the campaign.
Starting with experience, the Rams have a lot of it in important places. Trevor Jones tossed 15 touchdowns in 2013 and will be back under center. Avery Healey led the team on the ground a season ago and will also return. Last year’s leading receiver, tight end Brock Bastian, will join the party once again.
“We’ve got a lot higher expectations (because of experience),” said coach Weston Zabriskie. “We feel if we stay healthy and put everything together, we have a top five team in 2A, on paper anyway. Potential can be a dangerous word, but we feel like we’ve got a team that can really compete.”
That starts with Jones, who will be in his fourth year starting for Zabriskie, his third at signal-caller.
“Trevor’s been the leader of the team since he was a sophomore,” Zabriskie said of the 4.0 GPA student. “He’s got just unbelievable leadership skills. As far as a quarterback, he’s very good at taking care of the ball and makes good decisions. We’re looking this year for him to have a high completion percentage and (make) smart plays.”
“A lot of times we’ll just play it by game,” Zabriskie said about who will get the lion’s share of the carries out of that trio. “If a kid gets hot, keep giving the ball to the hot hand and work off it that way. It just kind of depends on who’s really on their game that night.”
Through the air, Jones will have a pair of tight ends he’ll seek out to help move the ball down the field. Early on in 2013, Zabriskie rotated Bastian and Josh Howell, but he learned that the offense was more efficient when they played together, so he’ll employ some two tight end sets this season to utilize their talents.
“They’re both good blocking tight ends, but they can both be dangerous in the passing game as well to where a linebacker can’t just sit on one and make plays,” Zabriskie said.
While South Sevier will be incredibly experienced at the skill positions on offense, it lost a slew of seniors in the trenches. However, Zabriskie has been pleased throughout camp with the players who will play offensive and defensive line.
Garrett Peterson is a three-year starter, Kevin Fuller will move from fullback to the line, Braxton Vakautakakala is a sophomore who has started to get attention from some college coaches, and Taylor Oldroyd has seen significant playing time during his career.
“That’s probably where our best depth is, is on the line,” Zabriskie said. “We might not have as much experience as in the skill positions, but as far as offensive and defensive line goes, we have seven or eight kids to choose from.”
Depth is a concern for Zabriskie elsewhere, however. Unlike the San Juans and the Beavers of 2A, the Rams don’t have too many players who can come in when an injury occurs and not miss a beat.
“We only have four juniors this year, so we’re excited with the experience we’ve got coming back, and if we stay healthy, we feel like we’ve got a team that can really compete,” Zabriskie said.
As far as the rest of the South Sevier defense is concerned after the line, Zabriskie will have a stout group of linebackers returning in Healey, Bastian, Howell and Hall. In addition, Davy Wagner has also been a pleasant surprise during camp.