A graduating class of 18 players is a big deal if a school only has 45 to 55 in the entire football program.
And that’s the predicament facing the Emery Spartans as coach Jon Faimalo enters his second season. Emery made it to the Class 3A state quarterfinal round last year, where it lost to Juab, but this year’s edition is going to be young.
Faimalo remains optimistic, however.
“You’ve got seniors who were juniors, who had been biding their time,” Faimalo said. “They’ve had to wait two or three years. They’re hungry and ready to go.”
The Spartans saw their leading passer (Zac Jorgenson), rusher (Logan Cox) and tackler (Chase Jewkes) from 2016 swing the tassels last May. Faimalo thinks the replacements are more than capable, but he does have concerns if injuries start to take a toll.
“My first-string kids are good,” Faimalo said. “But we’re pretty thin behind them.”
EMERY SPARTANS <br>Coach • Jon Faimalo, second year <br>Last season • 4-6, 2-3 in 3A North; Advanced to Class 3A opening round <br>State championships • 1987 <br>Other state title game appearances • 1999 <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • at Richfield, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • Summit Academy, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • Payson, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • at Manti, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • Judge Memorial, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • Carbon, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • Morgan, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • at Union, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • at Grantsville, 7 p.m.
Behind center • Kyson Stilson (6 foot 3, 140 pounds) steps into the quarterback role after mostly seeing action with the junior varsity. Famailo calls the thin junior “athletic” and plans to run more spread schemes this year. “He doesn’t usually get hit very square,” Famailo said. It’s running back by committee to replace Cox. Easton Gordon (5-8, 150) is a senior who played at wing back last year, and he’ll share the rushing role with senior Gus Garcia (5-11, 165), junior Rance Jenson (5-8, 145) and senior Colt Willson (6-0, 145).
Ball hawks • Gordon also is good coming out of the backfield as a receiving target, and Willson will make his way into the secondary out of a tight end spot. Look for quick senior Jared Snow (5-8, 130) to get himself open for passes, and he’s also the best cover cornerback on the Emery squad. Gordon will train his eyes on opposing passes from a free safety position as well.
In the trenches • Senior Drake Hoffman (6-2, 215) is called the “core of the line” by his coach. He started at defensive tackle last year, but he’ll get a starting nod as the starting center, too. Juniors Lon Huntsman (5-9, 165) and Jesse Barnett (5-8, 185) have been moved from running back to offensive guard spots. “We had to shore up our line a little bit,” Famailo said. “They’re not really happy, but it’s a team sport, and they want to do whatever they can to help the team.” Senior Landon Fairbanks (6-4, 240) and junior A.C. Reeve (6-1, 240) will provide additional manpower on the offensive line, while Reeve and senior Drake Hoffman (6-2, 215) bring physicality to the D-line as well.
Hit men • Huntsman and Barnett will be keys to the linebacking unit, with Huntsman earning some experience as a reserve last year. Reeve and Hoffman also will be counted on to wrap up ball carriers from the their defensive end positions. Willson, in addition to being one of several running back candidates, is set to be a starter at a safety slot. “He’s a big hitter,” Faimalo said about Willson. “He really sets the edge for us.”
Key returners • Easton Gordon, Sr. (RB/WR); Drake Hoffman, Sr. (C/DE); Lon Huntsman, Jr. (OG/LB); Jesse Barnett, Jr. (OG/LB)
Key losses • Zac Jorgenson, QB; Logan Cox, RB/DB; Chase Jewkes, LB/OL; Logan Labrum, LB/OL
The next wave • Kyson Stilson, Jr. (QB); Gus Garcia, Sr. (RB); Colt Willson, Sr. (TE/S); Jared Snow, Sr. (WR)
from The Salt Lake Tribune http://www.sltrib.com/sports/high-school-sports/2017/08/13/prep-football-emery-spartans-preview