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High school football: Jordan Beetdiggers 2009 preview

SANDY — Operating a spread offensive attack takes timing, precision and a lot of hard work in preparation. With all those things needing to come together, the Jordan Beetdiggers are confident they have put in the hours necessary for success.

"I think we threw together and ran routes an hour or two almost everyday, seven days a week," said wide receiver Cory Hunt of he and fellow receiver Braden Hammond with quarterback Alex Hart. "We worked hard to try to get better. I feel like I am a better player because of all the work we put in."

Hunt, Hammond and Hart — somehow don't they need to add one more H-named player to the group to become the 4H Club? — know how important it is that they are all on the same page on every play. Otherwise, they can leave Hart out to dry.

"There are reads we need to make on every play in our offense," said Hammond. "If we aren't seeing the same thing and turn a different direction, the defense gets a nice easy interception and everybody blames Alex, even if it might have been one of our faults."

Hart was a first-team All-State quarterback last season, throwing for 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for another 800 yards and 10 TDs. He expects those type of numbers to continue, but he also said there is another reason why the team has a good chance for success.

"We've got good camaraderie," Hart said. "We are really starting to come together as a team. We no longer worry about any individual numbers. We just want to go out on the field together and get the job done."

While the 'Diggers have many returning players, a new coach is in charge. Erik Kjar, who had been the offensive coordinator, took over as the head guy. He has kept the offense the same considering the team was the third highest-scoring team in 5A at over 32 points per-game, but he is revamping the defense with a more classic 3-4 look.

"It is surprising how many teams are running that defense now," he said. "But with the way offenses are going, it makes a lot of sense."

Defense will be a key for the team this season. Last year, the team struggled on that side of the ball, giving up at least three touchdowns in 10 of its 12 games.

"We are just going to have to work hard and be together as a team and things will take care of itself," said defensive back Austin Day.

Another thing that has changed for the Beetdiggers is their competition. Having competed with Alta for the last couple of seasons for a region title, Jordan not only has to face the Hawks, but Pleasant Grove and Lone Peak are now in the same region and expected to be stiff competition.

"It will be tough, but that is what you want," said lineman Bill Vavau. "You always want to play against tough competition to measure up how good you really are."

Jordan Beetdiggers at a glance

Coach: Eric Kjar is entering his first season as the head coach for the Beetdiggers.

Key Players: Alex Hart is back after throwing for over 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also ran for 805 yards and 10 scores. There is no doubt who is the leader of this team. Cory Hunt was one of Hart's favorite targets as he hauled in 67 receptions for 920 yards and 12 touchdowns. Braden Hammond is another threat as he had 71 catches and 895 yards with seven TDs. Bill Vavau is expected to be an anchor on the line, and Austin Day is a leader in the secondary.

Strengths: Bringing back skill position players that are familiar with each other is always a positive. When they are players of Hart, Hunt and Hammond's ability, it is almost unfair for the opposition.

Weaknesses: How well the Beetdiggers defense comes together will be a big question mark for this team. There are only three players back on that side of the ball, but that may not be a bad thing considering the team gave up an average of 26 points per game.

Last year: 8-5, lost to Bingham in quarterfinal matchup 48-20.

Prediction Region 4 finish: Fourth.

Postseason possibilities: The Beetdiggers were voted as the team that will claim the fourth playoff spot out of the new region, but a vote doesn't count for much. It is a very real possibility that the 'Diggers will be in a dogfight for a spot, but they are a school that would be sorely disappointed if they somehow didn't make it.

2009 Schedule:

Aug. 21 — at Northridge 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at Layton 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — at Sky View 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — at Alta p.m.

Sept. 18 — AMERICAN FORK 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — HILLCREST 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 — at Pleasant Grove 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — LONE PEAK 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — TAYLORSVILLE 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — at Brighton 7 p.m.

e-mail: mblack@desnews.com