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High school football: Layton Lancers 2020 preview

Here’s an in-depth look at the Layton Lancers football team heading into the 2020 season.

Note: Layton finished with a 3-8 overall record in 2019 and was tied for sixth in Region 1 with a 1-6 record. It was RPI seed No. 22 in the 6A playoffs and was eliminated by East 50-10 in second round.


LAYTON — There is a great deal of excitement building at Layton High when it comes to the Lancers’ football program.

In recent years the team has struggled, to be sure, to the tune of only five wins since the 2016 season. And yet, when camp opened in June, over 140 kids showed up to try out for football.

Even now, two months later, over 120 kids remain a part of the Layton football program.

There are multiple factors for those almost unbelievable numbers. COVID-19 has certainly played a role, as has the arrival of a new coaching staff, headed by Foto Katoa. All of it has people believing in the new era of Lancer football.

“There is a lot of excitement,” Katoa said. “Parents are supportive and the community is supportive. There is a lot of excitement building.”

It is what Katoa envisioned when he interviewed for the job.

“In the interview I told them we have enough talent in our local area to compete,” Katoa said. “It is a matter of keeping them. We have enough kids.”

Thus far, he’s been proven right.

Considering the difficulties Layton has faced in recent seasons, don’t expect that Lancers to compete right away, though. It is a process to get to a level where the team can contend with the best in Region 1, and it is a process that might take awhile, even if it has already begun.

“A successful season for us would be if we are able to execute everything we have been working on since June 1,” said Katoa. “We have been going double days, full pads as soon as we could, and we are still going two-a-days. A successful season this year is all about being able to prep ourselves and execute everything. That is measurable, because I get everybody back (next year). I don’t lose too many of them.”

That doesn’t mean the Lancers don’t want to win. They do, and there is talent on hand to do so, headlined by linebackers Brock Wall and Maximus Fonoti-Maikui, quarterback Garrett Gifford and wide receiver Nick Sanders.

“We have some talent,” Fotu said. “But the way our offensive and defensive schemes are, everyone has to do their part to make it work.”


Layton Lancers at a glance

Katoa’s thoughts on how his players dealt with the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:

“From my perspective, the kids are really focused, hungry and appreciative of what they’ve lost, not being able to play. Being limited in what we can do, for our kids it has been very positive. They are so hungry and determined.

“We started with over 140 kids (in our program). We are still over 120 now and they are still coming. There is excitement and the kids appreciate we are practicing to play football. They are ready to say some ball and excited to get going.”

Layton offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Travis Vendela

2019 offense: 18.9 ppg (22nd in 6A)

2019 offensive statistics
  • Spread offense
Offensive players to watch
  • Garrett Gifford (QB)
  • Nick Sanders (WR)
Katoa’s keys for offensive success in 2020:

“Obviously executing our scheme is important, but players need to learn their individual assignments. They need to learn to play together. To play well together. For the offense, it comes down to the offensive line. We’ve got some big boys, but they have to be able to hold and execute their individual assignments. If we can do that, we have a chance to be successful.”


Layton defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Cameron Pribble

2019 defense: 30.0 ppg (19th in 6A)

2019 defensive statistics
  • 3-4 defense
Defensive players to watch
  • Brock Wall (LB)
  • Maximus Fonoti-Maikui (LB)
Katoa’s keys for defensive success in 2020:

“It is going to be up to our big guys in the middle. They need to clog up the middle. We have some really fast aggressive linebackers who are not afraid to hit you. We have a lot of speed and size in our linebacker corps. If we can can get them loose, free them up, they’ll make plays for us. The linebacker corps is the strong group so we need our big guys to clog up the middle.”

Deseret News outlook for 2020

Layton is in an interesting place as a program. Only three seasons ago, the team went winless. In each of the next two seasons, things improved, albeit slowly. Now, a new coaching staff is on the scene and with them comes a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm. Excitement about the program is palpable. And yet, the Lancers won’t be battling for the region title in their first year under Katoa and considering the other programs in Region 1, even a mid-region finish could be hard to come by.


Felt’s Facts for Layton

  • All-time record: 240-292-1 (52 years)
  • Region championships: 10 (1969 co, 1971, 1974 co, 1977 co, 1978 co, 1979 co, 1987, 1993 co, 2007, 2008)

  • Playoff appearances: 27

  • All-time playoff record: 20-26

  • State championships: 1

  • State championship record: 1-3

  • Most played rivalry: 51 meetings with Clearfield dating back to 1968. Layton leads 36-25.


Last five seasons

  • 2019 — 3-8 (1-6 in Region 1 — 6A second round)
  • 2018 — 2-7 (1-5 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2017 — 0-10 (0-6 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2016 — 6-4 (3-3 in Region 2 —missed playoffs)
  • 2015 — 5-4 (2-4 in Region 2 — missed playoffs)

Layton coaching history

  • 2020 — Fotu Katoa (0-0)
  • 2018-2019 — Tyler Gladwell (5-15)
  • 2005-2017 — Jim Batchelor (60-76)

  • 2000-2004 — Steve Smith (14-39)

  • 1996-1999 — Carter Cook (10-30)

  • 1991-1995 — Curtis Page (26-23)

  • 1987-1990 — Tom Moore (13-24)

  • 1985-1986 — Joe Wood (10-8)

  • 1984 — Brad Hawkins (1-8)
  • 1972-1983 — Gary Hansen (68-54)

  • 1968-1971 — Dick Bubak (33-12-1)