Gunnison Coach Rhett Jackson is elated he has a gold-medal running back returning in Heston Neal, who last year as a junior gained 1,300 yards to lead all 2A rushers in that department.
In addition to that achievement, Neal power-cleaned 300 pounds in the 165-pound division to set the state record in that department. He will be complemented in the Bulldog backfield by Matt Harris and Cutler Frandsen. Both have experience as starters from last year.
Harris is also a three-year starter on defense, but overall Jackson says his defense is small and will have to rely on team speed.
"We will have to take risks and depend on a lot of movement to confuse offensive lines," Jackson said.
He also said his team may have to use the bend, but don't break philosophy.
This year the offensive line will be smaller, as only one starter returns. Jackson said they will have to use combination blocks to make up for the lack of size. Having to break in a new offensive line may cause Neal some problems and is part of the reason Jackson will balance his offensive attack.
"We need to find ways to get (Neal) the ball," Jackson said.
Play action will be used to try to spread the ball around.
At wide receiver, Trevor Madsen had a solid year last year and started part time as a sophomore.
"He has good hands and good speed," Jackson said. "We will throw the ball a little bit and we will spread the ball around."The Bulldogs lost to San Juan in the play-in game last year but are anxious to make some noise in the playoffs this year.
Gunnison Bulldogs preview
COACH: Rhett Jackson begins his 15th year as head coach.
KEY PLAYERS: Heston Neal led state in rushing last year and Trevor Madsen returns with three years experience. Matt Harris and Cutler Frandsen return to form a solid backfield.
QUESTION MARKS: Defense is small and may have to resort to risk taking.
LAST YEAR: Lost to San Juan in play-in game.
PREDICTED 2A SOUTH FINISH: Fifth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Depending on how the lineman come together, but the Bulldogs would have to be considered a long shot to go past the quarters.
Aug 22 at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Aug 29 NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept 5 RICHFIELD, 7, p.m.
Sept 12 at Parowan, 7 p.m.
Sept 19 NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept 26 at South Summit, 7 p.m.
Oct 3 AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, 7 p.m.
Oct 10 JUAB, 7 p.m.Oct 15 at Manti, 7 p.m.