Weber State seeks to build on 2016 season

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(STATS) - Weber State has improved its record with each year under coach Jay Hill, who's entering his fourth season at the Big Sky school.

The next step would be the biggest because the Wildcats are coming off a 7-5 season in which they finished in third place in the conference and qualified for the FCS playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

The Wildcats have been working toward the 2017 season during spring practice, which concludes Saturday with their annual intrasquad game in Odgen, Utah.

There's plenty of optimism in camp. While Weber State is replacing 17 seniors, it returns 14 starters off last year's squad.

Quarterback is the most visible open position as the Wildcats replace Jadrian Clark. Senior Stefan Cantwell, in his second season with the Wildcats as a junior college transfer, has taken the majority of the snaps with the first team over redshirt sophomore Justin Shaw, who sat out last season with a shoulder injury. All-Big Sky first-team tight end Andrew Vollert is the top returnee on offense.

The defense figures to lead the way, however. It returns nine starters from the fourth-ranked unit in the 13-team conference plus standout linebacker Emmett Tela, their leading tackler in 2015 who missed last season.