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High school football: Sky View Bobcats 2009 preview

SMITHFIELD — With two region championships and a 35-12 overall record in the last four years, the Sky View Bobcats have made tremendous strides as a football program.

Sky View, however, is far from satisfied and hopes to continue progressing in 2009.

"I think the kids and Sky View have done a good thing," said coach Craig Anhder. "We've taken a good step in the right direction. You got to go further. We've only taken a good step in the process."

While the Bobcats aren't returning much experience this season, they still have high hopes because their new starters fared well in sophomore and junior varsity ball. They also return a standout at their most important position — quarterback Kyler Carlsen — and figure to be in the mix in the Region 5 race.

"Every year, you wonder if you're going to be good or not, but we've worked harder than I've ever seen a team work this year," Carlsen said. "If you have team unity and work hard, anything can happen in high school football."

Those things are important, but it's also nice to have a triggerman like Carlsen back for his senior season.

Carlsen has been in the starting lineup since helping lead Sky View to its first semifinal appearance in 20 years in 2007. He has some new receivers and running backs to work with this season, but he is poised to have a big year. Carlsen passed for 1,937 yards and 23 touchdowns while missing two games with injuries last season. He threw for 2,277 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore.

"He's awesome," said Sky View center Jeff Parry. "I'd say he's probably the hardest worker of all of us. He talks to all the guys. He's an all-around good guy."

Anhder said Carlsen's greatest asset is his intelligence. He has a 3.8 grade-point average and a high football IQ.

"I think he's one of the best football players in the state; I really believe that," Anhder said. "He's got a lot of work to continue to do, but he's very smart. And he's got that experience behind him. I think that's going to help us."

The Bobcats are going to have to rely on Carlsen's experience this season. He is one of only three returning starters for the Bobcats. Speedy receiver Tanner Hunt and defensive lineman Colby Vilanueva are the other two. Other players looking to play key roles for the Bobcats this season are receiver/linebacker Nick Eskelson, Parry, linebacker Josh Hilton, safety Jamison Carroll and running back Shaun Harris. Linemen who got some time last year that return this season are Nate Heaps, Jorey Long and Jaren Balls.

Hunt looks to be a game-breaker this season. He caught 28 passes for 439 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He's also a solid blocking receiver.

"He's one of the fastest kids in the state and he's got great hands," Carlsen said. "I'll really be looking for him."

Vilanueva recorded 42 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a sophomore last season.

Anhder said his team will have to make up for its lack of experience in other ways. He's more than pleased with how hard his team has worked this offseason.

"The quality of kids we have is just outstanding," Anhder said. "I got a lot of faith that things are going to work OK for us. We got a great preseason. If we work hard and come together, we can prepare ourselves well for region."

Sky View Bobcats at a glance

Coach: Craig Anhder is in his fifth season at Sky View. He has a 35-12 record.

Key Players: Quarterback Kyler Carlsen is back to start for the Bobcats for the third season. He has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns in his first two years as a starter. Receiver Tanner Hunt will be Carlsen's top target, as he has great hands and speed. Nick Eskelson is also likely to catch a good share of passes. Colby Vilanueva is the team's only returning starter on defense. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore and will anchor the defensive line.

Strengths: Sky View could put up some big numbers in its passing game. Carlsen will make good reads and has some good speed on the outside to throw the ball to. The Bobcats have high participation numbers in their program and should have solid depth to work with.

Concerns: The Bobcats are inexperienced, as only three starters return from last year. The new starters did well in sophomore and junior varsity seasons, but that doesn't always translate to varsity.

Last year: 8-4, lost to Timpview in the quarterfinals

Predicted Region 5 finish: Third

Postseason possibilities: The Bobcats will be among the top teams in Region 5 and have a legitimate shot at the region title. Although only three teams from the league reach the playoffs, Sky View has a good chance to earn one of them. If things fall right late in the year and the Bobcats stay healthy, reaching Rice-Eccles is a reasonable goal.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — vs. Fremont at USU, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Logan, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — OGDEN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Bonneville, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 — MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com