The first order of business for Emery in its effort to make the transition from Class 2A to 3A isn't on offense considering the Spartans return 10 starters on that side of the ball and averaged 35 points per game last season.
Coach Jim Jones knows he cannot have a leaky defense if this team is going to win games at the 3A level. Emery struggled at times to stop teams last season.
The Spartans gave up 41 points to Millard, 56 to South Summit and the season ended with a loss to San Juan in the first round of the playoffs where they surrendered 56 points.
"We've had a hard time stopping the run, so how well we are able to stop teams from running on us will be a key," Jones said. "We've played a lot of younger kids, so we are hoping that having another year to mature and get stronger will pay off this year."
Emery is hoping the defense will improve with the return of Zach West, Duncan Thomas and Carson Healy on the defensive line along with Derrick Dawes and Slade Childs back at linebacker.
On offense, quarterback Bailey Faimalo is poised to have a big year. Marco Motto and Tanner Lake return at running back, and Healey should be an attractive target at tight end for Faimalo
One of the keys to this season will be how well Emery is able to finish this season. The Spartans watched leads slip away in games against the elite teams of 2A Manti, South Summit and Millard) last season.
The hope is that this year the experience the Spartans got last season paired with another year to get bigger and stronger will help Emery finish strong.
ASSIGNMENT • Class 3A North
LAST YEAR • 7-4 overall, 4-3 Class 2A North
KEY RETURNER • Bailey Faimalo. He started at wide receiver and cornerback last season. He will be taking the snaps at quarterback this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Marco Mota, a returning starter at fullback, should have plenty of room to run this season.
BIGGEST HOLE • Depth. There simply isn't enough depth for this team to withstand key injuries to some of its two-way players.
NEED TO KNOW • How well this team does may be determined by a defense that is making a point to prove it can stop the run.