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Dayton DeLoach

DELTA — There were two teams snake-bitten by Logan during the playoffs last year, but Delta is often the forgotten of the two.

Most remember Logan's improbable comeback against Park City in the first round, it's often overlooked that the Grizzlies did the same thing to Delta in the quarterfinals.

While most football fans may have forgotten the specifics, Delta and it's many returning starters haven't.

"I'm hoping that loss will help us get a big win this year. These kids remember that, and they have high expectations," said Delta coach Russ Henrie. "We have good leadership coming back."

The Rabbits return plenty of talent as well. With eight defensive starters returning as well as five on offense, it's easy to see why they're so highly thought of entering the 2008 season.

For Delta it starts with the defense.

Wes Murdock is back for his third year at starting middle linebacker, and is joined by hard-hitting safety Dayton DeLoach. Garret Spence is back to anchor the defensive line.

With the nature of the kids at Delta, defense should always be the strength of the program.

"These kids are just born into a good program down here, the tradition is a big part of it, but they're just hard nosed kids down here," said Henrie. "They still farm down here, they still get up in the morning and milk the cows. Families down here just raise tough kids."

Unfortunately there aren't a ton of them. Even though Henrie says the players relish the role of small fish in a big pond playing in 3A despite an enrollment under 500, depth is a real concern. If every there was a year the Rabbits could endure a few injuries, this might be that year.

Delta has three starters back in the trenches and some promising youngsters coming up. There are two players vying for the quarterback spot, senior Wyatt Warnick and junior Joey Dutson.

"They're both pushing each other really good, and it's nice to have that competition," said Henrie. "They're both looking really good, both of them can throw the ball well and run the option well."

There's plenty of options in the back field as well, a must when running the inverted wishbone. Henrie said the deep back in his offense carries the ball about 80 percent of the time. That puts a lot of pressure on senior Micah Roper and junior Derek Peterson.

Blocking for them will be a host of different fullbacks, including Zach Oppenheimer, Murdock, Michael Hatch and Warnick if he doesn't get the starting quarterback nod.

DELTA RABBITS PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW

COACH: In the past two years, coach Russ Henrie has guided the Rabbits to the semifinals and the quarterfinals. The talent is there to duplicate feat yet again.

KEY PLAYERS: Dayton DeLoach is 180 of pounds "smack you in the face" according to his coach. The second-leading tackler on the team a year ago and free safety, he'll be expected to contribute even more this year. Murdock is the heart of the defense at middle linebacker. Nick Nissen is a three-year starter on the line for Delta, and is the school's best college prospect according to his coach.

QUESTION MARK: For as many returning starters as Delta has, there's a little uncertainty at quarterback with Wyatt Warnick and Joey Dutson currently battling for the spot. Veteran teams don't always rise to the occasion when expectations are high, something Delta will have to deal with this year.

LAST YEAR: 5-6, lost to Logan in the quarterfinals.

PREDICTED REGION 8 FINISH: Second.

POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Even though the Braves lost a lot of key cogs off the 2007 championship team, this is not a rebuilding year. If they can stay healthy, and the young players expected to contribute do just that, a region title is definitely in the cards and perhaps a second straight state title.

2008 SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 — UNION, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — vs. Globe, Ariz. (at Snow Canyon HS), 11 a.m.

Sept. 5 — at Grantsville, 7 p.m.

Sept. 12 — SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 19 — MOAPA VALLEY, NEV., 7 p.m.

Sept. 26 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3 — at Carbon, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — EMERY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 — at Salem Hills, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.


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