With an improved Juan Diego and Delta in the same region, things aren't going to be any easier in 2008 for the Emery Spartans.
With that said, veteran coach Jim Jones said he likes to think his team has what it takes to compete in Region 8, "but we're going to have to get a couple games under our belts."
Those first few games against Grand, Canyon View and Desert Hills will tell a lot though. As of now, Emery is a team with about six returning starters but very little on the offensive and defensive lines.
"It's a situation where it might take a few games to kind of get their feet under them and get comfortable," said Jones. "Every level you move up, it's a little quicker, a little more intense. It takes a little while to get used to."
The encouraging thing for the program is that most of the starters this year will be seniors, and most of them have decent size. The one returning starter on the offensive and defensive line is 6-foot-3, 190-pound Sheridan Oviatt.
In Emery's version of the Wing-T offense, Oviatt plays guard and he's perfect for the offense.
"We pull our guards on almost every play," said Jones. "He's a real good trap blocker, he can get out on the sweep."
Emery figures to be better defensively at least early in the year. Cameron Hansen, Chance Ariotti and Colby Snow all saw significant time at linebacker last year, but all three figure to even better this year.
Ariotti and Snow will be two of the primary ball carriers as well. Each played sparingly on offense last year, but they gained enough experience to boost their confidence heading into their senior seasons. Snow will start at halfback, with Ariotti starting at fullback.
"He's just a little guy, but he's a real hard runner, a real good north-south type runner," said Jones.
Gatlan Huntington will start at quarterback, a year after starting in the secondary. He's an athletic kid who can ran and throw well, and he's also smart with a 4.0 GPA."He's run the offense the last two years in sophomore and JV ball," said Jones. "We went to a camp this summer and he did a pretty job at the camp. His skills fit the offense pretty well. "
Emery Spartans 2008 prep football preview
COACH: Jim Jones is in his 21st year at Emery with a career record of 126-85.
KEY PLAYERS: Gatlan Huntington will be running the offensive show this year for Emery. His coach says he's perfect for the Wing-T offense, and if he has a good year Emery could be headed to the quarterfinals again. Cameron Hansen, Chance Ariotti and Colby Snow will all start at linebacker, as well as being key cogs on offense.
QUESTION MARKS: Depth on the offensive and defensive line is a concern. After a solid senior core of lineman with decent size, the junior class only has three lineman. Injuries could be very detrimental.
LAST YEAR: 7-5, lost to Wasatch in the quarterfinals.
PREDICTED REGION 8 FINISH: Third
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Should battle North Sanpete for third place in Region 8. After that a first-round playoff victory is a possibility.
Aug. 22 at Grand, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Canyon, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 ALA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 UINTAH, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 CARBON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Delta, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.Oct. 24 SALEM HILLS, 7 p.m.