Parowan's football program is in a unique spot entering the 2008 season.
On the one hand, the Rams are in great shape with all of their skill position players back from last year. On the other hand though, there's a massive void on the offensive and defensive line with the graduation of five starting lineman.
For obvious reasons, there's a level of uncertainty heading into this season.
"You're always excited about having skill players back with a year's experience, but my idea is the line's the key core of your team, both defensively and offensively," Parowan coach Matt Labrum said. "We have some good kids, but they just don't have game experience."
If the those new lineman mature fast, Parowan should be competitive with Kanab, North Sevier and Enterprise in the tough 1A South region.
The three lineman he's counting on the most are juniors Matt Lister and Garrett Pickett, along with sophomore Colin Shurtleff. There's a chance Labrum might've even move a few of his skill position players to the line if necessary.
One player he won't be moving is senior quarterback Nick Wood. A starter last year, the 6-foot-2 Wood spent a lot of time this offseason in the weight room and has bulked up to about 195 pounds.
"We just expect him to be the general out there and take care of things," said Labrum, who utilizes the I-formation offense.
Parowan's primary two ball carriers this year are seniors Blake Overson and Tanner Orton. Overson was a key weapon for the Rams last year finishing with 558 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Despite all the offensive weapons returning, Labrum believes his team will be better off defensively. Brett Cecil is a solid middle linebacker, while Wood and Orton our very adept and corner back. Corie Blackham started in the secondary last year, but he'll likely move to linebacker this year.
Just like on the offensive side of the ball, the trenches are a bit of an unknown.
"Defensively, we really relied on our line last year, but this year we might have to do some different things this year," Labrum said.
One advantage Parowan has over virtually every 1A team is in the kicking game. Not only is senior Cody Bradley one of the best athletes on the team, he's a very good kicker, converting on every extra point last year as well as booting the majority of the kickoffs into the end zone.
Question marks aside, Labrum is excited about 2008."I think we should have a winning record this year, get into the playoffs and make some noise," he said.
Parowan Rams preview
COACH: Matt Labrum is in his second year as Parowan's head coach, finishing with a 3-8 record in his inaugural season.
KEY PLAYERS: Senior Nick Wood could emerge as one of the best quarterbacks in 1A by the end of the season. He's coming off a junior season in which he rushed for six touchdowns and passed for five more. Lineman Matt Lister, Garrett Pickett and Colin Shurtleff don't have any varsity starting experience, but their progress is going to be critical to Wood's productivity and Parowan's overall success. Linebacker Brett Cedil should be a force defensively.
QUESTION MARK: Without any starters back on the offensive or defensive, this is an obvious area of concern for the Rams. Parowan didn't score a lot of points to begin with last year, which is a tough thing to overcome in a region with Kanab and Enterprise.
LAST YEAR: 3-8, lost to Rich 6-0 in quarterfinals.
PREDICTED 1A SOUTH FINISH: Fourth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: It's hard to imagine this team winning a region championship, but finishing second in league is an attainable goal. In the playoffs, if Parowan's offensive line has established itself a semifinal appearance is a real possibility.
Aug. 22 MONTICELLO, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 LINCOLN COUNTY, NEV., 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 GUNNISON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Milford, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Kanab, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Monticello, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 ENTERPRISE, 7 p.m.Oct. 24 DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.