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High school football: Corner Canyon Chargers 2017 preview

Note: Corner Canyon finished with a 6-5 overall record in 2016 and tied for third in Region 7 with a 4-3 record. It did not qualify for the playoffs.

Corner Canyon 2016 Offensive and Defensive Stats

DRAPER — For eight seasons as Jordan’s head coach, Eric Kjar created a culture of winning and offensive success.

In each of those eight seasons his QBs were named Deseret News first team all-state, MVP or Mr. Football. That list featured Alex Hart, McCoy Hill, Austin Kafentzis, Drew Lisk and Crew Wakley last year.

Despite such an efficient routine at Jordan, Kjar felt like he wanted a change.

“It’s just a different opportunity. Some of it was to come over and start fresh again and start a program with the whole scheme and kind of get it going from Day 1,” said Kjar.

His approach is different from his predecessor, and Kjar says it’s been fun to reteach the kids his style of offensive and defensive schemes along with his approach to weight lifting and running.

He’s inheriting a good team this year, and realistically a program that could be a sleeping giant in the years to come with its little league program.

“With what they have here and the little league program that’s here and the number of kids that are playing and the talent that’s in the boundary, I think it could be for sure. That’s part of the excitement about the job,” said Kjar.

Corner Canyon ranked in the top 10 in 4A scoring offense and defense last year, but tied for fourth in Region 7 and missed the playoffs after losing a region play-in game.

This year Corner Canyon will play in a Salt Lake County region against its traditional rivals like Alta, Brighton and Jordan, and there’s a ton of optimism thanks in large part to returning starting quarterback Zach Wilson.

Kjar has a history of producing monster seasons with his QBs, and Wilson is a Boise State commit who should easily surpass the 2,751 yards he threw for last year.

For Wilson and the entire offense, even though Kjar is running a spread offense like the team did last year, there’s been a big adjustment.

“Pass game is quite a bit different. Some of the run schemes are pretty similar. We run a power read and they ran tradition power, but the scheme is the same so a lot of that was fairly seamless. Kids had a pretty good handle and picked up on that stuff. But the pass game stuff has been quite a bit different along with screen game. It’s been a big adjustment for the receivers, I’ve seen probably a bigger adjustment being made there than at any other positions,” said Kjar.

Corner Canyon at a glance

Coach: Eric Kjar is entering his first season as Corner Canyon’s head coach. He spent the previous eight years as Jordan’s head coach where he recorded a 69-29 record, including a state title in 2012. He’s a graduate of Kemmerer High School in Wyoming.

Corner Canyon Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Eric Kjar

2016 offensive production: 31.4 ppg (8th in 4A)

-- 5 returning starters

-- Spread offense

Key offensive returning starters

-- Zach Wilson (QB)

As a junior last season Wilson passed for 2,751 yards and 21 touchdowns, and this year even bigger things are expected of the Boise State commit as he plays in Eric Kjar’s offensive system. Kjar had a history at Jordan of getting monster seasons out of his QBs.

-- Colton Lawson (WR)

Was one of the state’s leading receivers a year ago with 70 catches for 1,388 yards and 12 TDs, and his production will likely increase even more in the prolific passing offense.

Returning offensive starters

Zach Wilson (QB)

Colton Lawson (WR)

Jakob Johnston (WR)

Easton Petersen (OL)

Kingsley Holliday (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Payton Richards (WR)

Jonah Strong (OL)

Tai Gonzales (RB)

Caden Johnson (RB)

Kjar comments on QB Zach Wilson:

“I knew Zach from the time he was 10 in our little league program, 'cause he lived in Jordan’s little league boundary. And the boundary kind of shifted and turned into Corner Canyon. He still wanted to go to Jordan as a freshman, but then he transferred back here freshman mid-year. So I’m familiar with Zach a little bit. Because I’ve known him it’s been pretty seamless working with him. He’s very athletic, he’s worked very hard on improving his speed and quickness too. I think that will be a surprise for some people, is his athleticism."

Kjar comments on receiver Colton Lawson:

“Colton had a big year last year. We throw a lot of fade and back shoulder stuff, and they did that almost exclusively with him, or slants, and schematically it’s going to be a lot different for him. But he’s learning. He’s very talented, got really good ball skills and good body control, and runs good routes and has a good feel for defensive coverage.”

Kjar comments on starting O-lineman Easton Petersen and Kingsley Holliday:

“Easton Peterson had a fairly significant knee injury, he tore his ACL Week 6 last year, but he was their starting center last year, and he does a really good job. He’s good leader, good technique, good feet, and pretty competitive. And then our left tackle, Kingsley Holliday, will be really good. He’s a junior. He started about six games last year too, he does a really good job, really athletic. He kind of has a nasty streak.”

Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:

During his time at Jordan, Kjar’s offenses were extremely prolific. He’s got the quarterback in Zach Wilson to continue that trend at Corner Canyon, but a lot of that hinges on the wide receivers. In transitioning to a different scheme offensively, Kjar said it’s been hardest on the wide receivers to make those adjustments. If they work out the kinks in the preseason the Chargers receiving core could be a strength by region play.

Corner Canyon Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Casey Sutera

2016 defensive production: 18.9 ppg (6th in 4A)

4 returning starters

4-3 defense

Key defensive returning starters

-- Mikey Petty (DE)

As a junior last season he recorded 83 tackles and he was second in the state in sacks with 20, just one behind East’s Jordan Lolohea.

-- Conner Ebeling (S)

Is one of three returning starters in the secondary for Corner Canyon after a strong junior season in which he recorded 40 tackles.

Returning defensive starters

Mikey Petty (DE)

Dalton Hagan (CB)

Mason North (CB)

Conner Ebeling (S)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Kennan Aiono (DL)

Van Fillinger (DL)

Caden Johnson (LB)

Blake Emery (LB)

Brad Findlay (LB)

Josh Wilson (LB)

John Scheffner (S)

Kjar comments on Mikey Petty:

“He’s kind of interesting. I had known about him a little bit before I took this job here. I knew he had a big year and a lot of sacks, so I was kind of expecting him to be pretty athletic, like strong and fit and run well, and when we got him here his strength wasn’t what I thought it would be. But he’s done a good job, his bench went from 175 to 245 since we’ve been here. But when we got on the field during camp I found out why he had the year that he did last year because he’s very football savvy, and just has that motor and that ability to make plays that some kids just have a knack for. Some guys just make football plays and I’d rather have that obviously than a combine freak.”

Kjar comments on new full-time linebacker starters Caden Johnson and Blake Emery:

“Blake and Caden have looked really good. I think they’ll be our leaders for sure at linebacker, they should be close to our leading tacklers. Good speed, good athleticism, good tacklers, understand our scheme really well. They’ve progressed really fast as far as that goes.”

Kjar comments on experienced secondary:

“Secondary is going to be big, and I like our kids a lot there. They’ve been doing a really good job so far. They’re very competitive. All four are very athletic, and even a little bit of depth too behind them, that’s probably our deepest position, and we’ve needed it cause we’ve already had a couple injuries there.”

Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:

With three starters back in the secondary and then two part-time starters at linebacker, Kjar likes the foundation his team has in the back seven of the defense. It’s the front four he’s concerned about. Outside of Mikey Petty, who is a stud at defensive end, there’s not much experience returning on the defensive line. The Chargers might even lean on a couple of sophomores to fill a couple of those key roles. In Region 7, where most the teams throw and throw it really well, Corner Canyon needs to get pressure on the quarterback so the secondary doesn’t get picked apart.


Coaches preseason Region 7 straw poll: Third

Deseret News Region 7 prediction: Second

Key Region Game: at Alta, Oct. 12 (Week 9)

Bottom line: In recent years at Jordan, Eric Kjar’s teams were known for their terrific offense and mediocre defense. Last year Jordan ranked first in 5A offensively and 24th in defense. Now entering his first year as Corner Canyon’s head coach, the question becomes whether that style will transition to his new school. Offensively it should with a Boise State commit at QB (Zach Wilson) leading the way. He’d love to see a different defensive mentality at his new school though. It’s certainly possible as the Chargers ranked sixth in 4A scoring defense last year, and there are four returning starters from that group who know how to grind out games. It’s hard to outscore teams Friday night after Friday night, and that’s why success in Kjar’s first year at Corner Canyon hinges on the defense.


2017 Schedule

Aug. 18 — at Pleasant Grove, 7 p.m.

Aug. 25 — RIVERTON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 1 — WESTLAKE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — at Orem, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 — BYE

Sept. 21 — TIMPVIEW, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 — at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — COTTONWOOD, 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 — at Alta, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 — JORDAN, 7 p.m.


Felt’s Facts for Corner Canyon High School

All-time record: 28-19 (4 years)

Region championships: 2 (2013 co, 2014)

Playoff appearances: 3

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 4-3

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-0

Felt’s Factoid(s): Corner Canyon is one of two schools to win a playoff game the year it opened.

...

Last 3

2016 — 6-5 (4-3 in Region 7 – Missed playoffs)

2015 — 4-7 (3-3 in Region 7 – 4A Quarterfinals)

2014 — 12-1 (6-0 in Region 7 – 4A Semifinals)

2013 — 6-6 (5-1 in Region 7 – 4A Quarterfinals)

….

Corner Canyon coaching history

2017 — Eric Kjar (0-0)

2013-2016 — Don Eck (28-19)

.....

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2015 — Keaton Bills, DL

2014 — Riley Ogden, RB

2014 — Branden Bowen, OL

2014 — Braxton Martinson, K

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

Read rest of the 2017 prep football previews here.