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High school football: South Sevier Rams 2009 preview

South Sevier has just one football playoff victory to its credit this decade, coming back in 2005. That frustrating trend might finally meet its match this season.

The Rams return a boatload of talented starters, feature perhaps the best offensive and defensive linemen in school history and are pegged by the rest of the 2A South coaches as the team to beat.

"We feel really good with a lot of the kids we have back," said coach Travis McAllister. "We have most of our starters back so we have a lot of experience there."

To be exact, South Sevier returns eight offensive starters and seven defensive starters from a streaky team that perhaps underachieved late last season. In a regular season finale loss to San Juan and then a quarterfinal loss to North Summit, the Rams were outscored 93-36.

McAllister knows that won't be good enough again this year, but is confident in his defense heading into the 2009 season.

"We really only had to replace one of our good guys from last year," said McAllister.

One of those returning guys is Landon Leavitt. McAllister calls him the leader of the team, particularly on defense where he led the Rams last year with 60 tackles and three sacks. Dillon Bishoff and Jace Mecham are solid linebackers as well, with Ryan Anderson anchoring the defensive line.

With a respectable preseason schedule that includes defending 1A champion North Sevier and defending 2A champion North Summit, South Sevier's defense will get tested early before jumping into region play.

On the offensive side of the ball, big things are expected out of Bishoff. He led the team with 542 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last year, while also serving as the team's kicker. Assuming Orion Wilson makes strides at the quarterback position and improves upon his 52.7 completion percentage, Bishoff could be in store for an even bigger year.

With a favorable region schedule that includes home games against the three toughest teams in the 2A South region, this talented team should be able to make amends for post failures.

South Sevier Rams at a glance

Coach: Travis McAllister is in his 6th year at South Sevier with a 25-33 career record.

Key Players: Landon Leavitt is the leader of the team, and coming off a balanced and productive year in which he rushed for 642 yards while also notching 60 tackles defensively. Dillon Bishoff has been heralded as the best athlete on the team, a player capable of making game-changing plays from his wide receiver position. Ryan Anderson led South Sevier's defensive lineman with 34 total tackles last season, including seven for loss.

Strengths: Experience is South Sevier's biggest strength with 15 combined returning starters, including most of its starters back on the offensive and defensive line. Among those are the team's best defensive and offensive player from last year.

Concerns: South Sevier's defense struggled late season, and with most of those starters back they'll have to prove that 2009 will different. One of the few uncertainties surrounding this team is at running back. Junior Michael Abbott and sophomore Wyatt Argyle will be vying for time at running back with virtually no experience. They're the two fastest players on the team, which could turn into a positive once they get the offense figured out.

Last year: 6-4, lost to North Summit in the 2A quarterfinals

Predicted 2A South finish: First

Postseason possibilities: With so much experience the Rams should enter the playoffs with a first round bye and then host a quarterfinal game. A semifinal appearance seems realistic, and anything beyond that would be a bonus.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — at Gunnison, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — NORTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — NORTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — at Richfield, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — MILLARD, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — PAROWAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — at Beaver, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — KANAB, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Enterprise, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 – Playoffs, TBA

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com