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High school football: Weber Warriors 2018 preview

_Note____: Weber finished with a 9-2 overall record in 2017 and was first in Region 1 with a 6-0 record. It lost to Lone Peak 26-17 in the 6A quarterfinals._

Weber’s 2017 Offensive and Defensive Stats

PLEASANT VIEW — Last season was a special one for the Weber Warriors.

The 2017 Warriors were among the very best football teams in the state, running through Region 1 with an undefeated 6-0 record — Weber finished the year 9-2 — and advancing as far as the quarterfinals of the 6A state tournament.

The campaign was the highlight of head coach Matt Hammer’s tenure at the school, as well as the culmination of years of hard work, work put in through more than a few difficult and disappointing seasons.

More than a few of the stars that led the way in the turnaround season are gone now, quarterback Austin Bartholomew and running back Carter Green most of all.

Their departures, as well as that of all but one starter along the offensive line, would seemingly suggest that Weber is in for a rebuilding season in 2018.

Hammer and co have other plans.

“I think we reloaded pretty well,” Hammer said. “Just watching what we have done all offseason long, starting in January and then 7-on-7 camps this summer and scrimmages against Herriman and East, I like our team.

“Our seniors experienced a couple of hard seasons, but they were there for the work that went into last year. They know what they need to do now. I like their competitive edge, the brotherhood they have. They’ll fight for one another and they’ll compete. This team is important to them.”

That sentiment wasn’t for just his seniors or returning starters — Weber has six returning starters on offense, five on defense — but rather the whole of Weber football.

“I like our team,” Hammer said. “We have some depth guys that have been in our program for a long time that will be first-time starters, they haven’t been out there once it’s live bullets, full go yet, but I’m excited to see how they do. I think we are going to be very competitive.”

One of those depth guys is newly anointed starting quarterback Kohl Hogan, about whom Hammer noted, "He’s had a really good summer and I think he is well prepared. With that (QB) position, a guy can look great, but once you get to live bullets it can go one way or another, but I like his demeanor."

The Warriors don’t want to just be competitive, however. They want back in the playoffs.

“Year in and year out we want to host a playoff game,” said Hammer. “If we are hosting a playoff game then we finished first or second in our region which means we are doing that part right.

“Host playoff game, get to Rice Eccles. I’m not big on other things. If you accomplish those two things I think you are doing things the right way. Do both of those things and anything can happen.”

Weber Warriors at a glance

Coach: Matt Hammer is set to begin his sixth season as the head coach at Weber. He has compiled a 24-27 overall record with the Warriors, including a tenure-best 9-2 record last year that included a run to the 6A quarterfinals. Hammer is a graduate of Clearfield High School, as well as Southern Utah University.

Weber Offensive Snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Matt Hammer

2018 offensive production: 33.5 ppg (7th in 6A)

  • 6 returning starters
  • Multiple offensive strategies

Key offensive returning starters

  • Hudson Schenck (WR): Was the Warriors leading receiver in 2017, hauling in 46 receptions for 708 yards, both team highs. Schenk also scored 10 touchdowns, again a team-best, averaging 15.39 yards-per-reception.
  • Sione Moa (WR): Just behind Schenk on the Warriors’ receiver totem pole was Moa. His 40 receptions and 429 yards were second-most on the team and he added two receiving scores to boot, tied for the third-highest mark on the team.

Returning offensive starters

Offensive newcomers to watch

Hammer’s comments on quarterback Kohl Hogan:

“Quarterback-wise we have a junior that is ready to step in and do his thing. Our quarterback is going to be Kohl Hogan heading into the first game. He had a really good winter and a really good spring. He is one of those kids that you don’t have to tell a whole bunch, you don’t have to tell him anything twice. He has a good feel for the game and has grown into his body. He is a lot stronger and more physical. He’s had a really good summer and I think he is well prepared to take over the starting role. I like his demeanor. The kids have gravitated to him, with him being the guy. I am excited to see how that goes.”

Hammer’s comments on running back by committee:

“When you lose a running back like Carter (Green) — Green was the Warriors’ leading rusher in 2017 with nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns — there is a question of how you are going to replace him. I think at running back it will be more by committee, with Cye Wallace, Hunter Nelson, Braydon Allen and Tyler Shorts all getting an opportunity.”

Hammer’s comments on the Warriors’ offensive line:

“You look at our offensive line, we lost a lot of seniors from last year. Trevor Lewis, he’ll be a junior, is coming back and he is going to be the anchor of that unit. Of the eight guys in the mix (for a starting job) right now, six are juniors, two are seniors. I look at Seth Pobanz, our lone senior starter at tackle, and I expect him to have a good solid year. The good thing about our lineman is that they have put in a ton of time as a group, starting in back in December. I am excited to see how that plays out, once it’s live bullets, full go.”

Hammer’s comments on the Warriors’ skill position players:

“Receiver-wise with Hudson Schenck, Sione Moa and Braedon Iverson, and at tight end with Brandt Opheikens and Josh Carter, we’ve got everyone coming back. They were all juniors last year and they’ve played a ton of football. A lot of those guys even played as sophomores. It won’t be new to them. We just have to do a good job managing the game, getting them the ball. I think we’ll be a hard matchup for some teams, just with how many dudes we have.”

Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:

Weber returns almost every single skill position starter from its region championship team, giving the Warriors a host of experienced and effective playmakers. Getting the ball to them will be the challenge this season, a challenge that may well determine how successful the year is. Weber has an almost entirely new offensive line, a new quarterback and a host of running backs that saw limited running opportunities in 2017. In order for the offense to find success, the Warriors will need its inexperienced starters to get up to speed quickly.

Weber Defensive Snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Billy Pluim

2016 defensive production: 15.8 ppg (2nd in 6A)

  • 5 returning starters
  • 3-4 defense

Key defensive returning starters

  • Brandt Opheikens (LB): Opheikens racked up 36 tackles in 2017, tied with Tyler Short for the highest total of all returning starters. Opheikens also recorded a sack and an interception last season, one of just two Warriors — the other was Hunter Neilson — to do so.
  • Braedon Iverson (S): Recorded 27 tackles and two interceptions in 2017 as a safety. Iverson’s best performance arguably came against the Fremont Silver Wolves, against whom he recorded a season-high six tackles. His interceptions came in contests against the Davis Darts and the Northridge Knights.

Returning defensive starters

  • Braedon Iverson (S)
  • Brandt Opheikens (LB)
  • Hunter Neilson (S)
  • Josh Carter (DT)
  • Tyler Short (LB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Hammer’s comments on cornerback position group:

“We have a couple of corners that can really cover, but it is the thinnest group we have on our team. We have kids that can line up and compete, Connor Marietti is one of those kids, and I think we will be long, athletic and physical. That is what it takes to win football games.”

Hammer’s comments on the linebacker corps:

“I think our linebackers are going to be the most athletic that we have had since I’ve have been here. We have Brandt (Opheikens), who has played SAM for us since he was a freshman. We are going to slide him to MIKE this season. We have Cye Wallace, a standout outside linebacker. I expect him to have a good year. Then we have guys like Tyler Short, a junior who played a little as a sophomore and Trey Worrell. Worrell will play a little linebacker for us and he will be a huge role player.”

Hammer’s comments on the Warriors’ defensive philosophy:

“On defense we are a 3-4 personnel base, but we will play some even front stuff, some man and some zone. We are going to try to put our best 11 guys on every unit and when we need to spell them we will. I like our depth. We’ve got some players that are young, but they just need to play varsity football. I think they will catch up quickly.”

Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:

The Warriors have experienced talent both at linebacker and throughout the secondary, though they are a little shallow in terms on experience at corner. The key to the season will be the development of the defensive line. Senior Josh Carter will lead that group, but it will be growth from the likes of Jace Velasquez, among others, that will determine how impactful the Weber defensive front is.

Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Fourth

Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Fourth

Key Region Game: at Syracuse, Sep. 20 (Week 6)

Bottom line:

The Warriors are talented. The defending Region 1 champions return a solid amount of the starters from last season’s impressive run, especially at the skill positions on offense and at linebacker on defense. Inexperience along both the offensive and defensive lines is a major concern, but many of the players set to battle in the trenches are upperclassman who simply haven’t had a lot of varsity time. Weber may have has high a ceiling as any team in Region 1, especially if quarterback Kohl Hogan is effective in the passing game and if a consistent rushing attack emerges. If Hogan and offensive line struggle, however, the Warriors could find themselves struggling mightily through a demanding schedule.

2018 Schedule

  • Aug. 17 — at American Fork, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 24 — ROY, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 31 — CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 7 — NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 14 — at Alta, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 20 — at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 28 — at Davis, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 4 — FREMONT, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 12 — at Layton, 7 p.m.

Felt’s Facts

All-time record: 304-487-22 (91 years)

Region championships: 6 (1948, 1952, 1964, 1985 co, 1996 co, 2017)

Playoff appearances: 18

Current playoff appearance streak: 1

All-time playoff record: 9-16

State championships: 2 (1985, 1999)

State championship record: 2-1

Most played rivalry: 74 meetings with Box Elder dating back to 1926. Box Elder leads 52-19-3.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Weber holds the single-game sack record (tied with Morgan) of 15, set in 1978 against Highland.

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Last 5

  • 2017 — 9-2 (6-0 in Region 1 - 6A Quarterfinals)
  • 2016 — 3-7 (2-4 in Region 1 - Missed playoffs)
  • 2015 — 3-6 (1-5 in Region 1 - Missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 4-7 (3-3 in Region 1 – 5A First round)
  • 2013 — 5-5 (2-4 in Region 1 - Missed playoffs)

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Weber coaching history

  • 2013-current — Matt Hammer (24-27)
  • 2010-2012 — Rick Corbridge (3-25)
  • 2005-2009 — Richard Murray (16-34)
  • 2003-2004 — Aaron Tillett (5-15)
  • 1994-2002 — Kory Bosgieter (49-41)
  • 1990-1993 — Glenn Prisk (13-24)
  • 1983-1989 — Rod Buckwoldt (26-38)
  • 1978-1982 — Hal Lewis (15-31)
  • 1976-1977 — Joe James (4-14)
  • 1974-1975 — Jerry Coggins (13-6)
  • 1970-1973 — Unknown (11-21-2)
  • 1967-1969 — Lee Bunnell (6-20)
  • 1965-1966 — Richard Connelly (4-13-1)
  • 1953-1964 — Mel Wood (56-43-11)
  • 1952 — Unknown (5-4-1)
  • 1948-1951 — Mel Wood (10-26-2)
  • 1945-1947 — Floyd "Slick" Slater (9-22-2)
  • 1944 — Glenn Arnett (5-2)
  • 1932-1943 — Unknown (25-55-2)
  • 1931 — Mark Ballif (2-4-1)
  • 1927-1930 — Unknown (7-19)
  • 1926 — Fred Dixon (1-5)

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Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

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