For the first time in a decade, Carbon's football program will have a sophomore team this fall, according to second-year coach Leo Paur, which is progress in of itself for the Dinos. But the school's varsity numbers will remain roughly the same as they were during Carbon's winless 2008 season — Paur says he expects to have 26 varsity players this fall — and so depth will be a huge challenge yet again for the Dinos.
However, if — and it's a big if — the Dinos can somehow find ways to stay relatively healthy, Paur believes his squad will be very solid this season.
"Pound for pound," he said, "I've got a really good team. I expect a big turnaround, and the attitude is the big difference, as well as the maturing of my sophomores and juniors of last year.
"The attitude is a team attitude that we're trying to foster, rather than individualistic, which it's been in the past. I came here and was shocked at how many kids didn't like each other. They found more satisfaction in failure than success. That attitude is gone, and (now) we're working very hard."
Paur has high expectations for a number of his players, especially the guys he's got along the offensive line and in the backfield of his double-wing offense.
Seniors Max Miner, Jesse Bigelow and Dave Fonnsbeck will anchor Carbon's offensive line, while Damien Olsen leads a stable of solid running backs.
Park City and Wasatch will be heavy favorites to win Region 10 this spring, but Paur truly believes his guys could surprise a lot of people.
"This is gonna be an outrageous thing for me to say, and I'm really cautious because we lost every game by an average of 37 points last year and the year before that we only won two games and the year before that I don't know that they won any games," said Paur. "(But) if I can take the 26 kids that I have and I can condition them and they do not get tired, I think I can contend for the region championship. I really do.
"I know people smile when I say that. Park City and Wasatch, wow, I don't know that we can beat them ... but I think we can compete."
Carbon Dinos at a glance
Coach: Leo Paur enters his second year at Carbon High after going 0-10 in his first season at the helm.
Key players: Seniors Max Miner, Jesse Bigelow and Dave Fonnsbeck are all returning starters along the offensive line, and Paur has huge expectations for all three of them. They'll look to create holes for senior tailback Damien Olsen and others to run through. Olsen will be counted on to make big contributions because standout Andrew Salazar has a broken foot and probably won't be able to return until near the end of the regular season. Meanwhile, Dusty Blackham is slated to start at QB, and on occasions when he throws the ball, he'll look to get it to receivers Nico Valesquez and Cameron Walker. Most of Carbon's offensive standouts will look to carry the load defensively.
Strengths: According to Paur, the attitude within Carbon's football program is immensely better than last year, and that should pay dividends once this season begins. The Dinos should also benefit from the fact that Paur is the first football coach to last more than a season at Carbon High in several years.
Weaknesses: Carbon doesn't have any depth — at all. Any injuries or other issues could leave the Dinos even more short-handed than they already are, and it's obviously difficult to be successful when you simply don't have the numbers.
Last year: 0-10, didn't make the playoffs.
Predicted Region 10 finish: Fourth
Postseason possibilities: Getting to the 3A tournament would be a big accomplishment for the Dinos this fall. Realistically, Carbon will probably fight with ALA to try and nab Region 10's fourth and final playoff spot.
Aug. 21 — at Duchesne, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at Uintah, 7 p.m.
Sep. 4 — GRAND, 7 p.m.
Sep. 11 — EMERY, 7 p.m.
Sep. 18 — at Richfield, 7 p.m.
Sep. 25 — at Park City, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — ALA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Union, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — WASATCH, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 — Bye