Cooling temperatures can be associated with two things in particular. Fall is coming, and football is beginning.
The Wildcats of Weber State University will kick off their 2018 season tonight at 6 p.m. when they take on the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. In 2017, WSU won a school record 11 games, including two victories in the FCS playoffs before a loss in the quarterfinals to perennial powerhouse James Madison.
On Aug. 27, Weber State fifth-year head coach Jay Hill named redshirt freshman Kaden Jenks as the starting quarterback for the opening game. Jenks will succeed Stefan Cantwell, who graduated after the 2017 campaign.
Hill and his assistant coaches are no stranger to the Utes. Hill was a cornerback for Utah in 1998 and 1999, before serving as an assistant coach from 2001 until 2013, when he was hired by Weber State.
New Wildcats offensive coordinator Dave Schramm was an assistant for Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham from 2005 through 2013. In addition, associate head coach and offensive line coach Brent Myers held the same position under Urban Myer with Utah in 2003.
The 2018 Utes are led by junior signal caller Tyler Huntley, who threw 15 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions last year. Junior running back Zack Moss sits at top the depth chart for Utah, as he is coming off a career season in which he rushed for 1,173 yards and ten touchdowns. In the air, sophomore wide receivers Siaosi Mariner and Bryan Thompson are expected to lead the way.
Weber State’s offense will be a mix of familiar and new faces. Seniors Treshawn Garrett and Iosua Opeta sit at the top of the depth chart at running back and left tackle, respectively. In addition, wide receiver and return specialist Rashid Shaheed will return for his sophomore season. Shaheed amassed a total of six touchdowns in 2017.
On the other hand, freshmen such as running back Kris Jackson and wide receiver AJ Allen are gaining respect. They both sit at second on the depth chart for their respective positions. Jackson was regarded as one of the top ballcarriers from Arizona, while Allen had originally committed to the University of Colorado.
On the defensive side of the ball, Weber State will be led by returnees such as Jonah Williams, Filipe Sitake, and LeGrand Toia. Last season, the ‘Cats had the top scoring defense in the Big Sky conference, allowing an average of 17.6 points per game.
The Wildcats and Utes have faced off four times, with Utah emerging victorious in all four by an average score of 47–13. Most recently, the ‘Cats fell 70-7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2013.
Following the season opener, Weber State will travel to San Luis Obispo, California, to take on Cal Poly on Sept. 8. The ‘Cats home opener will take place on Sept. 15, when another FCS powerhouse team in the University of South Dakota makes a visit to Stewart Stadium.