Change is apparent all around Layton Christian's football program.
The Eagles move up to Class 2A this season with a new coach, Doyle Holt, who previously coached at 5A Granger. Unlike last year when LCA started 2-0 and was 3-2 at midseason before tailing off, Holt promises his team will play four quarters of solid football every game despite being outnumbered.
"We're in a good region with some pretty good programs," Holt said. "In 1A, you're in the same boat; you get what you get. That changes in 2A as far as depth goes. South Summit will dress 70 kids for a game, and we'll dress 35 to 40. That's a huge concern of mine. It's going to be a competitive league."
LCA has ditched its wing-T offense in favor of a hybrid spread similar to the West Coast offense based out of the I. Holt envisions a more balanced offense, with several players handling the ball. Mar'Kiece Gibson, Sam Rockwell, Jack Chandler and Dijan McCall offer a blend of speed and power in the backfield.
Grayson Jackson and Ayan Burton are battling it out for the starting position at quarterback. Jackson attempted only 16 passes last season. Burton, meanwhile, spent some time at Weber last year and hasn't played organized football in two years. He was home-schooled for much of his upbringing.
"He's one of the best athletes I've seen in a long time," Holt said about Burton. "He's going to be on the field somewhere for us."
The defense, which allowed 270 points last season, is making progress. Holt expects the unit to tackle better and play more aggressively this season. Rockwell, who has military pressed 225 pounds, is a top lineman, while Quinn Witheria, Brock Rawlings and Leroy Sismette also expect to lead the defense.
As always, the Eagles have an international presence, including players from Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Korea.
LCA opens the season Aug. 23 at three-time state champion Duchesne.
Layton Christian Eagles
ASSIGNMENT • Class 2A North
LAST YEAR • 3-7 overall, 0-4 Class 1A North
KEY RETURNER • Mar'Kiece Gibson, RB. Versatile two-way starter can do a lot of things on the field. Has played tight end and running back this summer.
PLAYERS TO WATCH • Jack Chandler, RB, and Leroy Sismette, DL. Chandler is a national-level soccer player and can do a lot with the ball in space. Sismette, who is from New Zealand, has the potential to be aggressive on defense.
BIGGEST HOLE • Depth. The Eagles are solid through their first 11 players, but the reserves need to step up to give the starters an occasional break.
NEED TO KNOW • The team will play hard for four quarters, which has been a primary focus this summer. The Eagles will play hard, fast and improve.