1 of 2
Rodney Hamilton

LAYTON — The Layton Christian Eagles aren't making any guarantees about region championships or state titles in 2008.

But they do have one promise: they will be exciting.

"There won't be a boring or dull moment," said LCA coach Will Hawes, who will be in his second full season at the school. "I think we're going to excite some people on offense. We've got some big hitters on defense. I don't think people will sit in the stands for too long without something big happening."

Rodney Hamilton, a three-year starter at linebacker, is expected to provide some of the big moments — with big hits — on defense. He is a beast on defense, as he recorded 125 tackles and 15 sacks in just nine games last season.

He agrees with Hawes' statement that the Eagles will be fun to watch this season.

"Bring your popcorn," Hamilton said.

Hawes is expecting more than just excitement from his team. LCA returns a total of 12 starters — five on offense and seven on defense. The Eagles are much more experienced than they were last season when they had just four seniors on the team.

Senior leadership will be a strength for LCA this season. Hamilton, Kyle Hoover and Hunter Thompson are players that the 15 sophomores and 10 freshmen can look up to and follow.

Hoover, a tight end, is the team's top weapon on offense. He scored four touchdowns last season, and he should easily surpass that total in 2008. He has good hands and enough speed to play at receiver.

"He'll be our money guy," Hawes said.

Hoover also starts at defensive end, and he recorded 70 tackles in 2007.

Thompson is among the strongest players in the state. Hawes said he recorded a 650-pound squat during the offseason, and he's being looked at by Utah and Weber State. He was invited to participate in LSU's camp early this summer.

"He's a freak of nature," Hawes said. "He's faster than most linemen. He'll make a difference for us."

Hawes said he's seen a remarkable difference in his entire team compared to last year's group at LCA. The players have made the slogan of "Total Commitment" and they expect to apply it on the football field and in the classroom. In the past, commitment has been a problem for the Eagles, who earned just one narrow victory last season, a 24-18 win West Wendover, Nev.

"We're light years ahead of where we were last year as far as work ethic, weight room, conditioning, skill level," Hawes said. "The difference is what the guys have done in the offseason. They've been dedicated, totally committed. I think it will take them over the top. As long as we stay healthy, I think we'll be A-OK."

The Eagles made some strides last season, and gave Monticello and Parowan challenging games late in the year. Hawes said it's important for his team to realize early on that it can play with anyone in 1A and not wait until midseason to figure it out.

Team chemistry is improved from last season, and with some exciting and young players complementing Hoover on offense, and Hamilton leading the defense, there are reasons to believe that the Eagles will be a factor in 1A football this season.

The players have made a total commitment to make sure that happens.

"There's a lot of unity," Hawes said. "We always got good ball players. It's just that a lot of times it's about self. This year we got a lot of guys that congratulate each other when they do good things. They encourage each other in the weight room. I'm excited that it's that way."

Layton Christian Eagles 2008 prep football preview

COACH: Will Hawes took over as the program's head coach midway through the 2006 season, and helped the team to a berth in the 1A quarterfinals. In his first full season at LCA he went 1-8, but it's impossible to judge his work on that mark because he had just four seniors on his team. He appears to have a handle on what it will take to succeed at LCA.

KEY PLAYERS: The team will be led by three seniors — (LB) Rodney Hamilton, (TE/DE) Kyle Hoover and (OL/DL) Hunter Thompson. Hawes also has some exciting and young players on offense, but he doesn't want their names mentioned until they do something in games to earn some praise.

QUESTION MARK: As you'd expect from a 1A team, the biggest question regarding LCA is its depth. The Eagles' starters can play with most 1A teams, but if they get hit by the injury bug they'll be in trouble.

LAST YEAR: 1-8, did not qualify for state playoffs

PREDICTED REGION 1A NORTH FINISH: Fifth

POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Four of the five teams from 1A North will qualify for the playoffs, so it's obviously realistic for LCA to reach the postseason. The Eagles have the talent and coaching to reach the playoffs, and if they stay healthy they can make some noise in the postseason.

2008 SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 — at Milford, 5 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at West Wendover, Nev., 7 p.m.

Sept. 5 — at Virgin Valley, Nev., 7 p.m.

Sept. 12 — WHITE PINES, Nev., 4 p.m.

Sept. 19 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.

Sept. 26 — MONTICELLO, 4 p.m.

Oct. 3 — at Rich, 4 p.m.

Oct. 10 — at Duchesne, 4 p.m.

Oct. 17 — MILFORD, 4 p.m.

Oct. 24 — ALTAMONT, 4 p.m.


E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com