Note: Carbon finished with a 1-9 overall record in 2012 and was last in Region 12 with an 0-5 record. It did not make the playoffs.
PRICE — Despite enduring a tough season in 2012, excitement and expectations remain high for the Carbon Dinos football program heading into 2013.
It's not going to be an easy season by any means, as Carbon is once again projected to finish last in Region 12, but fourth-year head coach Jeff Blanc refuses to let that intimidate him.
"Last year, we lost a lot of games. We lost three games specifically in the fourth quarter, and part of that was due to not enough depth. This year, I think we have a little bit more depth, and we're not going to have as many guys having to go both ways on the line," said Blanc. "I think that'll help us on the offensive side not to get so fatigued and have a breakdown on offense."
Despite losing his top contributor and go-to-guy, Jordan Blanc, who led the Dinos in rushing, receiving and tackles in 2012, coach Blanc isn't worried about what his team is going to do offensively to fill those big shoes.
"We're going to have five or six different guys that we are going to spread the ball to, and I think spreading that out a little more, we are going to be a tough team to stop offensively," said Blanc.
Carbon has a total of 13 returning starters — seven on offense and six on defense — to help keep the Dinos hopeful of accomplishing something they haven't done the past 12 seasons, making the playoffs.
"I think the significance in our returning starters is that we have four of them coming off the line who are all juniors, so we have a young line, but an experienced line," Blanc added. "We have high expectations for all of our returning starters. Last year left a bad taste in our mouth. Collectively, we are excited about this upcoming season. If we can stay injury-free, I think that we're going to be competitive in football games. I think we will be battling for a playoff spot this year."
Carbon opens up against Grand on Aug. 23, a rivalry that the Dinos hope to heat up this season.
There are several interesting storylines and changes Carbon has made this offseason, one being that it has decided to scratch the spread offense it ran last year, and switch to a more traditional split back and I-formation offense.
"We are going to look at maintaining some clock control. We're going to be running the ball more, and hopefully we will wear some teams out," said Blanc.
The Dinos have also shown more dedication and work ethic in their offseason training this year, hoping to become a more physical team.
"We have seen a lot more committment in the weight room in the offseason this year. We are seeing guys that are getting a lot stronger, and I think that it's starting to show right now as we're starting to practice," Blanc said.
"Our practices here have really shown some signs of growth, and I'm really happy with the progress we've made over the last year. Last year we kind of got our feet wet, but this year I think we're going to go out there and open up some good holes for our running game," added Blanc.
Replacing starting quarterback Dakota Cisneros, who threw for 1,393 yards with 13 TDs last season, will be no easy task, but Blanc believes junior quarterback Jarod Lessar will be ready to step up and perform.
"Lessar is going to step up and take the reins at the quarterback position. He's had a good offseason as well and he's worked hard on getting better with his footwork," Blanc said.
Lessar is just one of many key contributors Carbon has returning this year. Also returning are senior running back and linebacker Dominic Rondinelli and junior wide receiver and linebacker Zac Hathaway.
Rondinelli had 105 carries for 289 yards last season, while also averaging three tackles per content for the Dinos.
Hathaway caught 30 passes for 378 yards with five TDs last season, while also racking up 39 tackles, two sacks and two picks on defense.
"We have a little bit more depth offensively this year as well, with a lot of guys coming back in their skilled positions who saw significant varsity time last year," said Blanc.
Aside from Lessar, Rondinelli and Hathway, the Dinos also have top returning contributors Kyle Barrett (WR/DB), Garrett Blanc (WR/DB) and Dallyn Mower (RB/LB) to shine some light on just how deep and versatile this Carbon football team actually is.
In Blanc's first year as head coach in 2010, Carbon put up an average of 8.1 ppg on the board. In his second season as head coach, the Dinos managed to double that average, posting an impressive jump of 16 ppg. Last year, however, Carbon averaged just 11.7 ppg.
With seven returning starters on offense and a change in the offensive game plan this season, the Dinos hope to get back on track and earn a playoff spot for the first time in 13 years.
Carbon Dinos at a glance:
Coach: Jeff Blanc is entering his fourth year as head coach at his alma mater. He compiled a 6-22 record in his first three years.
(7 returning starters; split-back, I-formation offense)
Carbon should be much more comfortable in a more traditional offense than it was in the spread the past two seasons. Jarod Lessar will take over the reins at quarterback for the first time in his high school career, and he will have some experience to work with as seven starters, four of whom are on the line, are returning on offense. Carbon must replace top rusher, receiver and defender Jordan Blanc from last season, but with its deep bench, Carbon should have no trouble filling those shoes. Zac Hathaway and Dominic Rondinelli should make a huge impact for the Dinos, while Carbon also expects big things from Kyle Barrett, Garrett Blanc and Dallyn Mower.
(6 returning starters)
With six returning starters and great young talent, expect the experienced Carbon defense to make big strides this season. Hathaway, Barrett, Blanc, Mower, Lessar and Doninelli will all anchor the Dinos defense, and prepare for especially big things from linebackers Hathaway, Mower and Dondinelli.
Coaches preseason Region 12 straw poll: Sixth
Deseret News Region 12 Prediction: Sixth
Bottom Line: As the preseason starts to wind down and the new season approaches, the Carbon Dinos remain optimistic and excited. With a newly implemented offense, a strong line and 13 returning starters, it wouldn't be surprising if the Carbon Dinos get off to a hot start and win their first four or five games. Keep your eye on the region games, for those will ultimately measure the Dinos' success this season. In a quality region, the Dinos will be underdogs — but don't count them out. If the players manage to keep their heads up and stay focused on their goal, they just might have what it takes to earn their first playoff berth in 13 years.
Carbon coaching history
2010-current — Jeff Blanc (6-22)
2008-2009 — Leo Paur (0-19)
2007 — Tim Tiller (2-7)
2006 — J.P. Salisbury (1-9)
2004-2005 — Lane Herrick (1-18)
2003 — Jeff Jorgensen (3-6)
2002 — Don Gressman (2-7)
1998-2001 — Troy Moynier (15-31)
1991-1997 — Jeff Jorgensen (20-46)
1987-1990 — Don Gressman (14-24)
1982-1986 — Mike Kernodle (10-34)
1979-1981 — Jerry Dyer (4-23)
1974-1978 — Tom Rabb (10-35)
1971-1973 — Boyd Bell (13-15)
1970 — Tom King (2-7)
1969 — Boyd Bell (2-6)
1966-1968 — Louis Mele (1-25)
1962-1965 — Larry Regis (9-27)
1952-1961 — Jackson Jewkes (39-42)
1946-1951 — Preston L "Pres" Summerhays (31-17)
1945 — Jackson Jewkes (4-3)
1944 — George Young (4-3)
1941-1943 — Jackson Jewkes (13-10)
1933-1940 — Preston L "Pres" Summerhays (51-18)
1929-1932 — Vernon Merrill (18-5)
1928 — William Nixon (3-5)
1924-1927 — Carl W. "Stubby" Peterson (29-7)
1923 — Howard N Blazzard (2-3)
1916-1922 — Unknown
1912-1915 — Merrill O. Maughn (6-5)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.