EDITOR’S NOTE » This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.
To say the Emery Spartans are a young football team might be a bit of an understatement.
With only two starters returning and a total of six seniors on the team, Emery will be turning to its underclassmen to provide depth. Coach Jim Jones estimates that as many as six sophomores might be starting for the Spartans.
Such inexperience might be perceived as a liability, but Jones has been impressed with what he’s seen so far from the younger players.
"We have a great attitude," he said. "We’re a very hard-working football team.
"Yeah, we are young, we are inexperienced, but we feel we are pretty talented, too. I could see us very easily surprising some people who overlook us."
The two returning starters, Matt Mecham and Tai Justice, will be looked upon to provide leadership for the young team. Though only 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Mecham, a running back/linebacker, is "relentless," according to Jones.
Justice returns at quarterback and brings an accurate arm to the offense. "Most of what we do this year will be out of the shotgun to help Tai, because he is very accurate if he has a little bit of time," Jones said.
The experience Mecham and Justice bring surely will help their younger teammates. Emery’s success might hinge on how quickly the new starters get up to speed.
"We’re really focusing on the basics, the fundamentals," Jones said. "We’re just trying to teach the young kids to do things the right way. Whatever the situation is, we just want them to play hard."
Last year » 4-7 overall (2-3 in 3A North; lost in first round of Class 3A playoffs)
Key returner » Quarterback Tai Justice is one of only two returning starters and will provide leadership to the young team.
Players to watch » Juniors Tyler Olson (RB/LB) and T.J. Lacock (WR/DE) are just two of the young players the Spartans will rely on this season.
Biggest hole » Depth. With only six seniors on the team, Emery will be looking to its underclassmen to step up.
Need to know » The Spartans returned to Class 3A for football last year — and made the state playoffs — after spending a couple seasons in 2A.
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