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Wyatt Mason

Ever since middle school, the current crop of North Sevier football players have wanted to prove a point about football in Salina.

Last year it didn't happen.

"We lost two or three games by a point," said coach Ryan Higgs, "and they kind of have a bitter taste in their mouth."

So ever since school let out, the team has been showing up in the weight room three times a week at 6 a.m.

"They are all about business," Higgs said. "They have a chip on their shoulder."

With 16 returning players, Higgs has experience at nearly every position except center. All-stater Vance Nelson left a hole in the middle of the line, but Higgs thinks he has good young kids that can fill it.

Evan Pettit returns to anchor the line on both offense and defense.

"He is just a horse," Higgs said. "He is a smash-mouth-type football player and was one of our top defenders last year."

Coming back off a knee injury that he blew out in basketball, Tanner Larsen expects to be at full strength at quarterback. He has spent a lot of time in the weight room and Higgs says he is up to 190 pounds. In the past, Larsen played corner and handled all the kicking duties.

Higgs said he will reduce Larsen's kicking responsibilities to kickoffs, where Larsen can put it into the end zone 80 percent of the time. The coach would also like to see him move from corner to linebacker, but says he will watch the knee carefully.

Packing the football for the Wolves will be Wyatt Mason. He is a low-to-the-ground type of runner and is very shifty.

"He rarely gets brought down by one guy," Higgs said. "It usually takes three or four tacklers."

On defense, Mason intercepted three passes last year and ran two back for touchdowns.

Higgs is happy to have two players in the fold who haven't played before but are very talented. Austin Johansen is a senior wide receiver who runs a 4.6 40 but has previously concentrated on basketball.

Higgs said "peer pressure" is how he came to the team this year.

The other player who hasn't played is William Andersen. Higgs said he, along with Pettit, is "one of the strongest kids on the team."

Higgs hopes to go further in the playoffs than last year.

"They have something to prove," he said.

North Sevier Wolves 2008 prep football preview

COACH: Ryan Higgs is in his second year as head coach, and he spent seven years as an assistant at North Sevier.

KEY PLAYERS: Tanner Larsen. How does he respond from knee surgery? Can Austin Johansen make an impact without experience although talented? Will Evan Pettit replace the loss of a first team all-stater?

QUESTION MARKS: Will the young players be able to fill the hole in the middle? And will off the field dedication translate into on the field results?

LAST YEAR: 4-5, lost to Duchesne in the quarterfinals.

PREDICTED 1A SOUTH FINISH: Second.

POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Look for North Sevier to cause a splash in post season as well as knock off a bigger name team or two on their regular season schedule.

2008 SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 — AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, 7 p.m.

Aug. 29 — at Gunnison, 7 p.m.

Sept. 5 — at Juab, 7 p.m.

Sept. 12 — SOUTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 19 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 26 — at Rich 4 p.m.

Oct. 3 — at Parowan, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — ENTERPRISE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 — at Kanab, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 — MILFORD, 7 p.m.


E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com