BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL — The defending 5A champion Lone Peak Knights will come to Bountiful Friday night to take on the Braves at 7 p.m.
With the many changes the Knights have gone through, specifically on offense, it will be tough to get out of Bountiful with a win in 2012.
The difference between last season’s Lone Peak roster and the 2012 version are night and day. Taking care of the rushing and passing duties in 2011 was Chase Hansen, who accounted for close to 4,500 combined yards with 54 total touchdowns (38 passing, 16 rushing).
With Hansen and the team’s top two leading receivers from 2011 gone, the offense will rest on the shoulders of either Braden Miles or Baron Gajkowski. Neither played much last season, and Gajkowski is a transfer student from Jordan High School.
Talon Shumway is one of the few familiar names returning from the 2011 championship season and was the team’s fourth best receiver in terms of yards (459) and touchdowns (five). He’s one of the few weapons Lone Peak has from last year’s roster, which could give the Braves’ defense an advantage heading into Friday night.
Bountiful’s defense will consist of at least three key returning starters from last season, including linebackers Rylee Gautavai, who led the team in tackles, Ryan Curtis, who tied the team lead with four interceptions, and defensive lineman Junior Hamilton (46 tackles).
Jakob Hunt, who led the team in sacks last year, will also give the defense some spark as one of many players who will play both sides of the ball this season.
With Lone Peak’s defense a question mark coming into the start of the new season, Bountiful’s plan to run the football could be an asset for the Braves Friday night.
Hunt’s return to the backfield provides some stability to a team that returns very few starters from 2011. Last season Hunt proved to be the workhorse that Bountiful coach Larry Wall needed, rushing for close to 1,200 yards while also catching balls out of the backfield.
At receiver, Tanner Redding was a favorite target of Cam Zollinger (who graduated) in 2011, scoring seven receiving touchdowns with 403 yards on 29 catches.
Mosese Manu could be a secret target for whoever starts at quarterback Friday as well. Last season the tight end only caught seven balls, but five of them turned into touchdowns and came at key moments in the game. Should the Braves need some go-to options, Redding and Manu will be nice targets.
The key component in this year’s game will come down to Lone Peak’s offense versus Bountiful’s defense.