Layton — When Jim Batchelor first decided to enter the football coaching ranks, he didn't necessarily have his sights set on returning to Layton — his alma mater. Batchelor possessed a willingness to take any head coaching job, no matter where he landed.

The fact that his first head coaching job came with the Lancers felt satisfying. What has felt even sweeter is being able to rebuild the football program from the ground up.

Making it to 5A championship game against Alta is the sort of end result Batchelor hoped for when he and his assistant coaches undertook to fashion Layton into a contender.

"There's a little bit of pride involved with that, you know, to say, 'Look what we've accomplished so far,'" Batchelor said. "I don't think most people would have thought you would've seen Layton in the state championship."

One fundamental difference between the Lancers now versus when Batchelor arrived fresh off a stint as the defensive coordinator for Davis is confidence. The Lancers have embraced offensive and defensives schemes which have allowed them to develop talent on both sides of the ball.

It wasn't easy getting to this point. Two years ago, Layton appeared ready to end a long playoff drought after a 2-1 start in Region 1 — only to see a promising season unravel with losses in its final three games. Last fall, the Lancers needed a play-in game victory just to reach the playoffs after a series of nail-biting defeats in region play.

This year's group doesn't feel like it is through luck or some kind of fluke they ended up as one of two 5A teams still standing. All the lumps taken in recent years have prepared the team for success.

"We all thought we could make it this far if we came together and played well," said senior linebacker/running back Chad Willson.

Reaching the championship game is not enough. Layton wants nothing more than to take back to Davis County a trophy that declares the Lancers are 5A champions. Finishing in second place just wouldn't feel the same for a team which has come as far as they have this season.

Making those state title hopes and dreams a reality will hinge on how well Layton's defense can respond to Alta's explosive offense. Despite enduring a senior season filled with injuries, Sausan Shakerin still remains the Hawks' number one offensive threat with 1,056 yards and 17 touchdowns on 180 carries this season.

Ryan Rosenvall has also shown a knack for providing Alta with a spark of energy. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1740 yards and 21 touchdowns, while completing 64.7 percent of his passes.

Generating a fast start against the Hawks will be crucial for Layton to end its season on a positive note. What the Lancers don't want to see is another slow first half where its own offense struggles to get its motor running — a scenario which happened against American Fork.

"Getting up early is something we have to do," Willson said. "We play better when we get up on (teams) fast."