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High school football: Familiar face takes the helm at Layton Christian

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2015 1:49 p.m. MDT

Assistant coach Jimbo Heiney explains a defensive play to senior Quin Witheria.  Witheria is in his second year at LCA as an international student from New Zealand. (Gary Czenkus) Assistant coach Jimbo Heiney explains a defensive play to senior Quin Witheria. Witheria is in his second year at LCA as an international student from New Zealand. (Gary Czenkus)

LAYTON - Layton Christian faces a series of new challenges as the 2013 football program kicks into high gear and the Eagles are poised to tackle them all. A new head football coach, moving up from the 1A into the 2A division, and graduating key players, has the LCA Eagles working hard for their opening game.

This year Layton Christian welcomes a new head football coach - Coach Doyle Holt. If that name sounds familiar it should. Holt has coached at several west side Salt Lake valley schools including West, Cyprus, Kerns and Granger. Holt also adds his experience from Adams State and Bethel College. In all, Holt brings 20 years of coaching experience to the Layton Christian Eagles.

Holt has made his presence felt from the first workout of the year. His consistent message is being heard by both his staff and players. In his short time at LCA he has gained the respect of both.

Australian exchange student Jim 'Lil Jack' Watson watches during an afternoon practice.  This is Watson's first year at Layton Christian. (Gary Czenkus) Australian exchange student Jim 'Lil Jack' Watson watches during an afternoon practice. This is Watson's first year at Layton Christian. (Gary Czenkus)

“I like him, good guy, knows his Xs and Os. He’s a good leader. I think I’m going to have fun working with him this year,” said assistant Coach Jimbo Heiney.

Sophomore quarterback Grayson Jackson added his thoughts as well.

“Best coach we’ve had since Will. He knows how to take charge everyone listens to him because he is up there in rank,” junior Brock Rawlings said.

“I like our new coaching staff, coach Holt and Coach Anson are good guys and I know Coach Heiney from last year and I know what he does on defense works so I trust him.”

Holt’s motto: “Consistency breeds believability” - covers everything from getting a team behind a new coach, learning a new offense, to describing how Layton Christian can compete in 2A and Region 14.

Junior defensive back Brock Rawlings works out during a preseason practice for the LCA Eagles. (Gary Czenkus) Junior defensive back Brock Rawlings works out during a preseason practice for the LCA Eagles. (Gary Czenkus)

“Some of the perennial 2A powers are right in our region,” Holt said. “South Summit is ranked #1 in preseason and Millard is a perennial winning program and have won state championships. Region 14 is as good as any other in 2A. Our first 11 on both sides of the ball will be very comparable but after that its goes down in a hurry. Depth is going to be an issue for us. We just don’t have the numbers that South Summit or Millard have. We’ve a little bit of injury bug with the pads. Not sure we were ready for the type of contact I expect. I guarantee we are not one of the smallest in 2A, we are THE smallest.”

A new head coach brings a new offensive philosophy. Last year LCA relied heavily on quarterback Kyle Yockey and star tail back Nik Edwards. Both were lost to graduation.

“You don’t replace those guys. These guys will probably go down as legends at this school. We must have other guys step up,” Heiney said.

New head coach Doyle Holt oversees the Layton Christian Eagles during preseason workouts. (Gary Czenkus) New head coach Doyle Holt oversees the Layton Christian Eagles during preseason workouts. (Gary Czenkus)

With Yokey and Edwards in the backfield LCA was primarily a running offense in 2012. That will all change in 2013.

“We have some good stuff” Holt said. “I use a hybrid spread with a lot of shotgun. We will throw the ball more than they have seen at this school for a while. We like to spread it around. Teams won’t be able to tell who is going to get the ball."

It seems the LCA coaching staff is of one mind.

“They have to buy in that’s the biggest thing. Buy into our system. The biggest thing is motivating them and getting the kids motivated and just selling the product and getting them to buy in. To be honest if we can win the line of scrimmage we can compete with any team in this region,” Heiney said.

Jackson will have the opportunity to start at quarterback for the Eagles. When asked how he plans to get the offensive behind him, Jackson sounded wise beyond his years.

Sophomore quarterback Grayson Jackson directs the offense during preseason practice. Jackson will start at quarterback for the Eagles. (Gary Czenkus) Sophomore quarterback Grayson Jackson directs the offense during preseason practice. Jackson will start at quarterback for the Eagles. (Gary Czenkus)

“Take charge, be responsibl, be a leader,” Jackson said. “Most of all, lead the way."

With a new head coach, players, and entering a new region, the definition of success can be hard to pin down. LCA failed to make the playoffs last year but it was just a few years ago they contended for the state championship.

“Football is more than game it’s about how you live your life. It’s an overall program. We are not just trying to win football games,” Holt said. “We sat down as a group and defined what would be positive for us; to host a home playoff game and start from there. We must finish in the top 2 in the region for that. That’s our goal as a team.”

Holt acknowledges LCA will have to upset teams in order to meet that goal.

Heiney put the definition of success in slightly different terms.

Senior Leroy Sisnett, an international exchange student from New Zealand, listens to Coach Holt during afternoon practice. (Gary Czenkus) Senior Leroy Sisnett, an international exchange student from New Zealand, listens to Coach Holt during afternoon practice. (Gary Czenkus)

“We are in a rebuilding process I think ultimately we are looking at playoffs and going deep into the playoffs and ultimately winning a state championship. Success I think at the end of this season would be having every one of these kids buy in and having a good offseason workout bringing in more kids and staying healthy.”

For Watson the definition is much simpler, “Win a state championship.”

LCA begins is season Friday August 23rd on the road at Duchesne.

Gary Czenkus is an Air Force veteran. EMAIL: zman2206@gmail.com

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