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Blake Sio, Taylorsville

SANDY — When you look at what Jordan brings to the table with its offensive line, it becomes difficult not to feel impressed by the sort of talent on display.

The Beetdigger line features a trio of three-year starters in Vyncent Jones, Kyle Johnson and Tyler Larsen. Four linemen are around 300 pounds, and the average height for the line is in the 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4 range.

Teammates see the line becoming the essential gears that will power Jordan's offense this season.

"Any extra yardage I get this year will definitely be because of them," senior fullback Dillion Hill said.

Having such an experienced line to work with gives Jordan a leg up in its quest to claim the top spot in Region 2. The Beetdiggers, in the past, have been defined by standouts at skill positions like quarterback or receiver.

With a host of inexperienced players inheriting many of those positions now, it is time for the group up front to shine. And they know it will be on their shoulders to meet expectations.

"Since our skill players are new, coming into this offense, we're going to be doing a lot more stuff with the line this year," Johnson said. "We're just so much more experienced."

Expect to see Jordan to capitalize on its advantage up front by mixing a few more running plays into its offense. The senior leaders on the line feel confident they can create enough space for Hill or any other back to thrive.

In fact, they are practically salivating at the prospect of doing a little extra run blocking this fall — something that's not always a given in a pass-oriented offense.

"It's kind of like (we're thinking), 'when can we get a run play please?'" Jones said.

At least three of the starting linemen for the Beetdiggers appear headed for the collegiate level after this season is finished.

Jones verbally committed to the University of Utah in February. Larsen will head to Cedar City to play for Southern Utah. Johnson has drawn some interest from BYU and Utah, but both schools are taking a wait-and-see approach after he suffered an injury while wrestling for Jordan last winter.

If all three hook on with an in-state school as expected, head coach Alex Jacobsen thinks it will be a direct result of all the commitment they have shown in preparing themselves physically and mentally to play football.

"These guys have invested a lot in the offseason," Jacobsen said. "They've worked really hard."

Jacobsen hopes to reserve his offensive linemen more exclusively on one side of the ball. In the past, the Beetdiggers — like many high school teams — have used a select few players to staff the line positions on both offense and defense.

That is not an ideal situation to be in this year. Jacobsen feels like both sides of the ball can be more effective if the linemen can concentrate on one position rather than worry about a couple of them.

Region 2 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)

1. ALTA: Only four starters return for the defending 5A state champs, but it doesn't appear that the Hawks will be affected all that much. Alta has plenty of talent and depth to draw on to fill holes on both sides of the ball. Ammon Olsen steps in at quarterback and offers a strong arm that should create interest for him from several colleges before the season is out. Olsen has plenty of solid targets to throw to, including Parker Webster and Drake Eckholt. Parker Erickson is a solid offensive linemen and should have that unit on track. On defense, Brady Davies and Trey Phillips are both returning starters, and coach Les Hamilton expects standout seasons from each player. 2007 RECORD: 13-1. PLAYOFFS: Won 5A state championship.

2. JORDAN: Things look good for the Beetdiggers as they look to unseat Alta from atop the region. While Jordan may not have as much experience at the skill positions as a year ago, there is plenty of it on the line. Vyncent Jones, Kyle Johnson and Tyler Larsen are all three-year starters on offense and defense. On offense, Jordan will count on quarterback Alex Hart and fullback Dillon Hill to lead the attack. The Beetdiggers have a host of younger players at receiver whom coach Alex Jacobsen is expecting big things from. Defensively, Jacobsen wants his team to swarm the ball and avoid giving up big plays. Expect big things from defensive backs like Parker Williams and Phillip Tarver. 2007 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.

3. BRIGHTON: The Bengals have high hopes of getting back to the elite level their program enjoyed as recently as 2005 — Tom Cushing's last season as head coach. Cushing is back on the sideline, this time as offensive coordinator under former assistant Ryan Bullett. The strength of the team will be defense, not offense, however. Aaron Phillips is expected to be a defensive leader in the secondary. Stuart Jardine and Tyler Zaelit are both capable cornerbacks. Ricky Heimuli, sophomore, looks to be a Division I prospect on the line given his size and skills. With senior Chip Kiser, he'll give the Bengals a stronger presence up front. On offense, Phillips could see time at quarterback or running back. 2007 RECORD: 2-8. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

4. SKYLINE: The prospect of returning 12 starters has many Eagles' fans thinking that this will be the year Skyline once again puts the fear in opposing teams. If there is one place where the Eagles have a definite advantage, it is up front. Dillon Lorimer and Davey Weixler are seasoned offensive linemen. On defense, Tenny Palepoi is a Division I prospect. The offense should benefit from the return of Algernon Brown at fullback. Brown showed potential behind Kalama Molisi last year and should be even better as the primary back. Kevin Wagstaff has the perfect resume to succeed at quarterback. Wagstaff quarterbacked the JV team a year ago and is also the basketball team's starting point guard. 2007 RECORD: 7-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the quarterfinals.

5. TAYLORSVILLE: In theory, the Warriors should be improved from a year ago. Five starters return on offense and six return on defense. Linebacker Blake Sio, a four-year starter, is the heart and soul of the defense. Andrew Stephens, a senior, will anchor the line on both sides of the ball. He has twice earned all-region honors. Nate Azera should offer some speed at tailback and will likely be counted on a bunch for a team breaking in a new starting quarterback. The biggest change comes on the sidelines, where former Hunter head coach Wes Wilcken comes in as the team's new offensive coordinator. Wilcken and Warriors head coach Scott Henderson coached together at Hunter several years ago. 2007 RECORD: 3-7. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

6. HILLCREST: The Huskies had as brutal of a season as any team in '07 based on what happened on the field and off of it. But Hillcrest feels hopeful that its youthful core that got thrown into action a year ago will use that seasoning to its advantage. There are plenty of weapons on offense. Kolby Koplin should be familiar with the offense after starting 10 games at quarterback a year ago. Anthony Biven is a quick and shifty runner who should anchor the backfield. And the Huskies have a solid pair of pass catchers in new receiver Kyle Maughn and tight end Keith Olsen — back after a one-year absence. On defense, linebacker will be the team's strength with Jesse Hudson leading the way. Linemen Sean Choi and Austin Neilsen are expected to give the team some strength up front. 2007 RECORD: 2-8. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com