Note: Delta finished with a 7-5 overall record in 2009 and a 4-1 record in Region 12. It lost to Park City, 21-14, in the 3A quarterfinals.
Delta coach Russ Henrie is always one to tell it like it is. So, when asked about his team's prospects entering the 2010 season, he doesn't beat around the bush.
"Same old, same old," he said.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, either. Delta has advanced to at least the 3A quarterfinals in five straight seasons, and with numerous starters returning this year, a sixth seems like a realistic possibility.
Talent alone won't get the job done, something Henrie recognizes more and more every year.
"It all depends on the character of these kids. The more I'm around it, the more I realize it's about the character and how these kids respond to adversity and those other good things," said Henrie.
"Will they keep their training rules? Last year we had some trouble with things like that, and it really cost us. To get 100 kids to tow the mark and walk the line, that's asking quite a bit these days. But we ask it, we expect it and we're gonna get it. And if we do, we'll be successful; if we don't, we'll struggle."
Those troubles were particularly costly early last year as Delta started the season 2-4. It responded with five straight victories before narrowly losing to juggernaut Park City in the 3A quarterfinals.
The pieces are there for Delta to take the next step, and it starts with junior quarterback Colin Christensen.
"We have big plans for him; he runs our option well," said Henrie.
Even though Christensen didn't start last year, he's an athletic, tall quarterback with an excellent arm. A strong arm doesn't always pay dividends in an option offense, but Henrie hopes he can take advantage of it.
"We're still only going to throw the ball 10 times a game, but when we do I think we'll be able to set people up and throw the play action and hit a touchdown instead of just picking your way down the field," said Henrie.
Christensen will have plenty of help around him to grow into the position, as Delta returns three quality starting offensive linemen this year. Kyle Anderson, Dallin Henrie and Michael Schena aren't big, but they're perfect for Delta's type of offense.
"They're all legit, nobody big, but solid kids. We're going to be mobile this year. We think we'll be able to pull two lineman instead of one and do a lot of things we haven't been able to do," said Henrie.
That experience will help Christensen break some big gainers this season, not to mention Delta's talented core of running backs.
Henrie isn't sure how the rotations will shape up once the season rolls around, but he expects Darin Dutson, Braden Schouten, Kaydon Hughes and Hadley Myers to all make contributions at some point this year. He wouldn't be surprised if two other backs emerge as well as the season rolls along.
If the offense clicks as expected, Delta should be able to ride an excellent defense to a region title and perhaps another deep run into the playoffs.
Delta Rabbits at a glance:
Coach: Russ Henrie, who is a Delta High graduate, is entering his sixth season as Delta's head coach. He's amassed 38-20 record and led the Rabbits to the 3A quarterfinals all five years, including a semifinal appearance in 2006.
(5 returning starters; inverted wishbone offense)
With Kyle Anderson, Dallin Henrie and Michael Schena all returning starters on the offensive line, Delta's offense has a nice foundation to work with right away. It's up to quarterback Colin Christensen to capitalize and have a big season. He's more than capable of getting the job done, but he'll need a few guys in the backfield to emerge as reliable ball-carriers by the time region play rolls around.
(6 returning starters)
The Rabbits were a top-five defense in 3A last year, and with six returning starters that should once again be the case. Linebackers Hadley Myers, Kaydon Hughes and Matt Murdock will anchor things defensively, while R.J. Springer will be a key player in the secondary. Just like on the offensive line, Delta won't be big, but it should be agile to make for it.
Coaches preseason Region 12 straw poll: First
Deseret News Region 12 prediction: First
Bottom line: Justifiably so, Delta is regarded as the team to beat in Region 12. Whether or not the Rabbits can compete with the big boys of 3A will be answered in Weeks 2 and 3 when they host Hurricane and then travel to Park City on back-to-back Friday nights. Quarterback Colin Christensen will have just one varsity start under his belt heading into those games, and he'll definitely feel the pressure. Just like it will all season, Delta's defense will need to come up big in those marquee games.
Aug. 20 — at Westlake, 7 p.m.
Aug. 27 — HURRICANE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 — at Park City, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 — SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 — at Stansbury, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 — at Manti, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 — RICHFIELD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — at Emery, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — JUAB, 7 p.m.