South Sevier's football season changed in a span of two weeks last year. With a 3-2 record at the midway point, the Rams had an opportunity to bolster their postseason seeding with victories over Kanab and Grand.
A pair of one-point losses instead left the Rams as the No. 6 seed in Class 2A South. Expectations are much higher this season with a solid group of returners.
"Our goal is to take the next step," coach Weston Zabriskie said. "Each year we've been more competitive and won the games on paper that you should win. This year we want to be more competitive with the top-tier teams. We're going to compete at their level and be one of the top four teams in the classification."
The Rams appear to be in good shape with junior quarterback Trevor Jones back to lead the charge. Jones threw for 1,252 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 162 yards and three more scores on the ground last season.
"He made a few sophomore mistakes, but he's looked more mature and has a good grasp of things," Zabriskie said. "He has the ability to make plays. We want to get him into space and create plays. If he can put it together and we get him opportunities, he'll be one of the three or four most dynamic players in the classification."
Guards Wyatt Anderson and Wyatt Hansen provide experience and leadership up front. Anderson, a returning first-team all-state player and four-year starter, and Hansen, a three-year starter, will win most battles in the trenches.
Zabriskie also feels good about his backfield, which features Riley Blackham, MaCalin Mitchell, Devin Bishoff, Roger Hall and Avery Healey. Each has the potential to make big plays without any dropoff in production. Tight ends Brock Bastian and Josh Howell also figure prominently into the game plan.
"The biggest key is confidence in what we're doing," Zabriskie said. "If we learn to take care of the ball, we're a good team. We'll try to slow the game down and establish the run a lot. We need to learn how to finish games."
Anderson, who had nine sacks last year, Hansen and Trent Christensen will plug up the middle on defense, which will allow the linebackers to make plays. The team's goal is to create at least two takeaways each game on defense.
The Rams open the season Aug. 23 at Gunnison.
South Sevier Rams
ASSIGNMENT • Class 2A South
LAST YEAR • 4-6 overall, 2-5 Class 2A South
KEY RETURNER • Wyatt Anderson, OL/DL. The returning first-team all-state player is a four-year starter who had 48 tackles and nine sacks last season. He is well known for his toughness but also has become a tremendous leader.
PLAYERS TO WATCH • Trevor Jones, QB. Made some sophomore mistakes last season, but he also showed glimpses of potential. His coach believes he will be one of the most dynamic players in the classification by next season.
BIGGEST HOLE • Learning how to finish games. The team lost two games by a single point last season, which dashed its hopes of a postseason run.
NEED TO KNOW • Coach Zabriskie said his players will give everything they have and that the team will be entertaining to watch.