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Senior defensive tackle Conner McIntosh hopes to lead a defensive turnaround in 2013 for the Longmont Trojans.
Greg Lindstrom
Senior defensive tackle Conner McIntosh hopes to lead a defensive turnaround in 2013 for the Longmont Trojans.

LONGMONT — Senior defensive lineman Conner McIntosh is just one of many Trojans who wasn’t happy with how the 2012 season went.

Last November, the Trojans sat out the playoffs for the first time since their appearance in the 4A state championship game in 2009. It didn’t sit well with McIntosh and the Trojans.

The first four-year starter in head coach Doug Johnson’s 14-year tenure, McIntosh tasted postseason competition each of his first two seasons. He wants to go back.

“The seniors this year are expecting a lot more out of our class because we didn’t do that great last year,” McIntosh said. “We’re expecting to do way more because we have a whole lot of potential. It’s the last time we’re going to be playing together so we want to make it count.”

After allowing 23.3 points per game last season, McIntosh said the Trojans’ top priority is shoring up their defense for the 2013 season. That process will start in the middle, with him.

McIntosh stands at 6-2, 275 pounds, making him a stout run-stopping, space-eating defensive tackle. As was his responsibility last season, the senior will be called upon to plug two holes on the line. Given the loss of defensive linemen Joe Lopez (11 sacks), Marcus Johnson (41 tackles) and Chris Palacios (37 tackles), his role will be more important as a senior.

With McIntosh up front, he said the Trojans will move to a 4-3 defense and employ a “sword and shield” system that utilizes hybrid linebackers behind a forward-pressing middle linebacker.

In preseason, it seems to be catching on quickly.

“Our defense last year wasn’t as crisp as it needed to be,” McIntosh said. “This is tailored more towards our skills. We love it so far and we’ve been doing great in practice. ”

Behind McIntosh, senior Keaton Gaibler will man the middle linebacker spot. He said the defense’s focus is on limiting the big plays that hurt them last season.

“Our biggest goals as a defense this year are to stop the deep pass and stop the run,” Gaibler said. “A lot of times last year we got beat once by that deep ball or beat for a big run up the middle. The passes up the middle aren’t our biggest concern.”

Offensively, junior Clint Sigg likely will take over for three-year starting quarterback Forrest Wetterstrom, who now plays at Western State. Senior Drake Greeott is back at running back.

Joining them will be a promising sophomore pair in Eli Sullivan and Logan Goodner, who combined for 990 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns.

“They’ve matured a lot. Playing varsity as a freshman is really a wake-up call,” Gaibler said. “A lot of them have made great leaps from how they played last year. Coming from middle school to high school football is a huge jump. So seeing that change in speed and the whole intensity of the game has made them better.”

The combination of a better defense and more experience for last year’s young athletes has the Trojans optimistic about the season. But, Johnson said, their success will depend on their six-player senior group.

McIntosh said the Trojans’ leadership core, the “Big Six” — McIntosh, Gaibler, Greeott, Miles Rivera, Ryan Bant-Cogburn, and Andy Lee — is ready to guide the Trojans back to the playoffs.

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