SMITHFIELD As their players put it, the Sky View Bobcats have been put back on the state's football map in the last few years.
Not only does the 2008 team want to stay there, it would also like to continue raising the program's profile.
The Sky View football program has enjoyed two wildly successful seasons after being mired in mediocrity for many years. The Bobcats went 11-1 in 2006 and reached the state quarterfinals. Last year, they made it to the state semifinals for the first time in 20 years. They have gone 11-1 in region play the last two seasons.
"Sky View's back on the map, baby," said J.D. Falslev, the Bobcats' all-state running back and return specialist. "Let's keep it there."
With the returning talent and experience they have this season, the Bobcats shouldn't have any trouble staying on the map.
Sky View returns six offensive starters including Falslev and quarterback Kyler Carlson. On defense, the Bobcats bring back seven starters including disruptive linebacker Riley Spackman, defensive end Eric Bernston and cornerback Brayden Compton.
Carlson played in every Sky View game last season and became the full-time starter prior to a 46-28 win over Box Elder in Week 4. He threw for 2,277 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Falslev will again be the go-to guy for Sky View's offense. He had 1,148 combined rushing and receiving yards last season. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and had six rushing touchdowns and a receiving score.
With those two guys, as well as receiver Zach Saxton, Sky View seems to be poised to have a big season on offense. But coach Craig Anhder, who has a 27-8 record in three years at Sky View, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
"We need a lot of guys to help out," Anhder said. "We got the possibilities of doing some good things. It's just if we can put it together."
The Bobcats have to replace some team leaders on a defense that was one of the best in 4A last season. Sky View allowed just 12 points per game during the regular season, which was third best in 4A.
Sky View's linebacking corps will be solid. Spackman will be joined by Tyler Sorenson, Jake Redd and Austin Mickelson in forming a strong and productive unit. Bernston will anchor the defensive line, and he'll be complemented nicely by Andrew Knudsen and Boo Phillips.
Compton will be joined at corner by Brandt Reese. The secondary will have to break in new players in the safety positions while replacing two all-state players there. On paper, that is the biggest question regarding Sky View this season.
Anhder, however, sees that some players need to step up in leadership positions, and that his team needs to jell as it has in the last two seasons if it is going to enjoy the same level of success.
"Are we going to be able to fill those roles and do it?" he asked. "I think we got a good team, but we're far from where we were last year."
The rest of Region 5 doesn't see it that way. The Bobcats were picked to take second in the always tough league. Sky View has earned some state-wide respect in recent years. Winning 11 of 12 league games will do that for you.
That respect will result in everyone else getting excited to play you, and the Bobcats are prepared for that this season.
COACH: Craig Anhder is in his fourth season as Sky View's head coach. He has a 27-8 record in three years and his teams have enjoyed a perfect regular season (in 2006), reached the quarterfinals once, and reached the semifinals once.
KEY PLAYERS: The unquestioned go-to guy on the team is running back/return specialist J.D. Falslev. He accounted for more than 1,100 yards on offense last season, and is a threat to score every time he returns a kick or punt. Junior (QB) Kyler Carlson broke into the lineup as a youngster, and will only get better and better. (WR) Zach Saxton will be a solid downfield threat for Carlson. The team's defense is loaded with each of the following players expected to contribute: (LB) Riley Spackman, (DL) Eric Bernston, (LB) Tyler Sorenson, (LB) Jake Redd, (LB) Austin Mickelson, (DL) Andrew Knudsen, (DL) Boo Phillips, (CB) Brayden Compton and (CB) Brandt Reese.
QUESTION MARK: The only real question mark about the team's roster is in regards to how the team's safeties will perform.
LAST YEAR: 10-3, lost in semifinals
PREDICTED REGION 5 FINISH: Second
*Aug. 22 Fremont, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 at Campbell County, Wyo., 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 LOGAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Box Elder, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Roy, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Highland, Idaho, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Bountiful, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 MOUNTAIN CREST
Oct. 23 WOODS CROSS, 7 p.m.
*At Utah State