A lot of people figured Layton High's running game was doomed when star tailback LaVaughn Jackson broke his foot in the team's season-opener.

But those people didn't know the truth about his replacement, Karl Williams.

Williams, nicknamed "The Truth," has stepped into Jackson's spot and played admirably the last three weeks. He has rushed for 463 yards on 74 carries. Despite Fremont loading up the box against him last week, Williams rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown.

The Lancers will need him to keep up his production in a big Region 1 rivalry game against Davis tonight. Williams will continue to carry the load for the Lancers, as Jackson is expected to miss another two or three games.

"I knew I had it (in me)," Williams said. "It was just a matter of getting an opportunity to show what I could do. I have to say our line has really stepped up and helped out."

The entire Lancers team has had to step up in Jackson's absence. Layton's defense, other than how it played in a shootout loss to Cottonwood, has been stout. The Lancers allowed an average of nine points in their three victories.

"They were so good last year, and I'm not so sure that they're not every bit as good as they were last year, and in some aspects better," said Davis coach Ryan Bishop. "I'm very impressed. They get one running back (Jackson) hurt and the other kid (Williams) has been phenomenal."

Quarterback Camren Applegate has done a fine job of running the Lancers' offense. He'll probably need to make some plays tonight against one of the state's stingiest defenses for Layton to have some success.

A grand total of three touchdowns have been scored on the Darts this season. One came on a kickoff return for a score by Brighton, and one was an interception return for a touchdown in a game against Kamehameha, Hawaii. Kamehameha is the only team to score on Davis' defense as it completed a touchdown pass on the Darts in the fourth quarter of their Week 3 matchup.

"They're very good on defense," said Layton coach Jim Batchelor. "They fly around to the ball."

Bishop has been more than pleased with how his defense has performed so far this season. He said his offense and special teams will need to step up in tonight's matchup.

Davis' offense is paced by running back Tanner Hinds, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games.

"He's legit," Batchelor said. "He's got speed, he's got strength. He makes people miss and he runs people over. If we let him get loose, he'll definitely put a hurt on us."

Because of their proximity, the Darts and Lancers know each other quite well. Batchelor and Bishop are also quite familiar with each other as Batchelor was Bishop's defensive coordinator on Davis' 2004 state championship team. The familiarity between the two teams and coaching staffs will add some intrigue to what should be a typical Region 1 slugfest.

"Don't blink or you're going to get hit and you're going to end up with a loss," Batchelor said. "It's going to be knock-down, drag-out kind of game."

ROLE REVERSAL: Judge Memorial was viewed as one of the favorites to win the 3A championship before the season began, while Juan Diego was looked upon as merely a possible contender. But after four games, it's Juan Diego that's looked dominant and been the more consistent team heading into tonight's Catholic school showdown.

Juan Diego has pitched two straight shutouts and is allowing a paltry three points per game. Judge is 2-2 after looking lethargic in a win over Ogden, losing in a shootout to Highland, Idaho, and getting routed by 3A champion Logan last week.

The series between the two teams is tied at 2-2.

RANKED MATCHUPS: There are four games pitting ranked teams against each other tonight. The top game is in 1A, where No. 1 Kanab plays No. 2 Rich in a rematch of last year's championship game. Also in 1A, No. 3 North Sevier plays host to No. 5 Layton Christian.

In 3A, No. 5 Park City travels to No. 3 Hurricane. No. 2 Juab hosts No. 5 South Summit in a key 2A North matchup.


E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com