Last season’s overall record didn’t quite reflect the dominance Sky View has often shown on the football field. The team went just 6-5 but still wound up as the Region 11 champions. With 15 starters returning, the reigning region champions figure to be the favorites in 2023 with eyes on getting further than the quarterfinal round where the Bobcats fell in last year’s playoffs.
- Head Coach: Christopher Howell (5th Year, 39-11 record)
- Radio Broadcast: 106.9 FM, 1390 AM The FAN
- Radio Crew: John Newbold (play-by-play), Rex Davis (analyst)
- Aug 11 at Salem Hills
- Aug 18 vs WASATCH
- Aug 25 vs Morgan
- Sept 1 at Fremont
- Sept 8 vs RIDGELINE
- Sept 15 vs BEAR RIVER
- Sept 22 at Logan
- Sept 29 vs GREEN CANYON
- Oct 6 vs at Mountain Crest
- Record: 6-5
- Region Finish: 1st (4-1)
- Playoffs: Lost in Quarterfinal (35-21 at Desert Hills)
- Returning Starters: 15
- 8 on Offense
- 6 on Defense
- Returning All-Region Players: 8
- All-Region Players Lost: 6
Hear Coach Howell’s thoughts on his team
It almost seems unfair that last year’s region champion also happens to return the most starters and rotation players from 2022. Sky View is blessed with a wealth of returning talent such as Cache Valley Media Group Region 11 MVP Brevin Egbert, its leading receiver Bryton Williams and starting quarterback Carson Thatcher. Of the 14 players who earned CVMG all-region honors, eight of them will be donning Bobcat colors again this season.
The returning stars may not be the biggest boon to the team, though as three players won’t run an offense. Having four returning offensive linemen and a returning tight end make for an offense that will be primed for a big jump this season.
“We feel like we’ve been able to pick up right where we left off from a year ago schematically, and add a few wrinkles here and there and really refine and pay attention to the details of what we’re doing. So we’re really excited about this team.”
A fair portion of Sky View’s ability to improve on a 6-5 record, and more importantly an early playoff exit, will be tied to the continued development of Thatcher as a quarterback. Last year he started off the season well enough, completing 52.2 percent of his passes for 185.3 yards per game and six overall touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) to just four interceptions. He didn’t finish the year quite as strong statistically but was still quite serviceable since his team won more games later in the season as opposed to earlier in the year. And with another year of development, it’s given time to Thatcher to build his skills and become more familiar with the offense.
“He had a really good year last year, but Carson Thatcher is a kid that works so hard at becoming a really good quarterback,” Howell said. “He spent a ton of time going to different camps and those kinds of things. His understanding of our offense is so much better than it was a year ago, just what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Thatcher isn’t the only player tasked with getting better. Even Egbert, the region MVP, has looked to make improvements to his game. Howell noted Egbert’s work ethic in the weight room along with being a standout track runner. Overall, Howell said he expects the whole offense to take a step forward.
“I think you’ll see us make a lot of improvement — on both sides of the ball — but really I like the way that our offense is trending for sure,” Howell said.
On defense a few more of the top producers did graduate. Five of the top six players in tackles are gone — both outside linebackers and three of the four players in the secondary — but six starters remain for the team to replace that production. And the team was very balanced in terms of production last year. The 14 sacks by the team were split among nine players with 3.0 being the team high. Three Bobcats that recorded at least one sack last season return, two of them being among the few guys with multiple sacks.
Part of Howell’s work to fill the spots of those productive players is moving a few guys between positions as they continue to develop. One such player is junior Jace Lilywhite. He played defensive end and had a huge strip-sack that set up a game-winning field goal against Green Canyon last year. He’ll move to outside linebacker and Howell referred to Lilywhite as “scary good” and someone he expects to step up.
In the secondary, despite losing most of the starters, Howell said his team is two-deep at every position and that battles for snaps have been a “dogfight” with starting jobs not being decided even as the offseason is coming to a close.
Sky View’s non-region schedule will provide a similar level of challenge as last year’s (for better or worse since the Bobcats went 1-3 in non-region play). The Bobcats will face Salem Hills, a team they beat 35-14 last year at home. Then SV will host Wasatch in a chance to avenge a 45-20 blowout loss a year ago. And just like last year the final two games of non-region will be a stiff challenge. Morgan may be a 3A team but they are the reigning 3A champs having gone 13-0 last season. The final game will be against a solid 6A program in Fremont, a contest that will be on the road to add to the challenge.
“We wanted to play a variety of teams but have a really good challenge,” Howell said of his non-region schedule. “We love our schedule this year and are really excited about it.”
If the Bobcats are improved from last year, a 2-2 or even 3-1 record could be the result. And if they do enter region play with a 3-1 or better record then Region 11 better watch out as it would mean Sky View met a stiff challenge and conquered it with little to no scratches.
Overall, a repeat as Region 11 champions is very much in the cards, though that’s obviously not the only goal. Getting back on top of 4A is the ultimate goal and Sky View appears well-equipped to make it far in an expanded postseason with a larger 4A field of teams.