In a tradition similiar to the National Football League's "black and blue" NFC Central division, Region 3 is laced with rivalry and unpredictability.
Located exclusively on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, the circuit features neighboring communities and, for the most part, tight contests week in and week out. No haves and have-nots here - though the balance of power may be shifting.League coaches anticipate a changing of the guard in 1995 with Hunter (4-6 last season) battling state power Granger for the league's top prize. An improved Taylorsville squad is picked third with recent forces West Jordan and Bingham expected to battle for the region's final postseason berth ahead of Kearns and Copper Hills, the state's newest school.
HUNTER: Given the edge by league coaches to win the region crown, the Wolverines appear ready for the challenge - though a late season date at Granger may be the deciding factor. "We look to be solid both offensively and defensively with a good mix of seniors and juniors," said second-year coach John Lambourne. "We have good experience, speed and size." Leading a deep senior cast are running back/linebackers Craig Coulter and Mark Lapuaho, quarterback Adam Cunningham and receiver Cory Grow. Tight end Jeff Bates and linemen Rick Smith and Aaron Gibbons are other all-state candidates.
GRANGER: Coach Ray Groth has all the ingredients for a championship contender - again. "We feel like we've got some talent and depth we haven't had in the past," he said. "I think we're going to be good on both sides of the ball. It's just one of those years." Quarterback Jared Cavaness, defensive end Sam Liti and wide receiver Adam Attridge headline the senior class for Groth's "best team" in six years with the Lancers. Last year's squad won eight games and reached the state quarterfinals. More of the same, and then some, is expected in 1995.
TAYLORSVILLE: For once, baseball may take a back seat to football at THS. Coach Randy Tuft's Warriors represent the school's "best team in a long time." Long on experience, most of the seniors have played varsity since they were sophomores, T-ville (2-7 last year) appears poised for vast improvement. Quarterback Todd Marietta and tailback Tad Hunter lead a potent offensive attack that is bolstered by lineman Grant Tuft (6-4, 315) and tight end Dan Egelund (6-4, 230). Tuft, Marietta and Hunter are the sons of team coaches.
WEST JORDAN: Coach Rick Bojak returns only one starter - punter Matt Martinez - from last year's region title team. However, a rebuilding year may not neccessarily be in the works. "This is the closest group of players we've had in a long time," said Bojak. "Teamwork may take us farther than many might expect." Especially considering the passing combination of quarterback Nathan Christiansen (3-0 as a starter last year) and receiver Jeff Hirschi. "With these two players we will definitely be throwing more this year," Bojak added.
BINGHAM: After opening the 1994 campaign with seven straight wins and the state's top ranking for several weeks, the Miners dropped three straight games to end the year on a disappointing note. Now comes the fun part - replacing 11 offensive players and nine defenders from last year's talented team. Senior tight end Levi Nordberg, a two-year starter, is the top returnee along with linebacker Brad Painter and wide receiver Davey Steel. Will it be enough to keep coach Sonny Sudbury's Miners competitive?
KEARNS: The Cougars are seeking stable ground after falling from nine wins in 1993 to nine losses last year. Despite the rollercoaster ride and current 10-game losing streak, the 1989 state champions are far from discouraged. "We'll do OK as long as we don't get kids hurt," said coach Mike Sorich. "We've got a great bunch, but not a lot of experience." Just four starters, both on offense and defense, return. Seniors Myron Vea (running back), Aaron Pehrson (lineman), Quincy Leavo (tight end) and Doral Vance (quarterback) top the veteran cast.
COPPER HILLS: The new kids on the block are expanionists with a twist - a first-team all-stater on the roster. Former Bingham wide receiver Bryan Molen has made the move to the new school and will likely anchor the offense. Coach Ron Halbert Jr. plans to use Molen primarily at running back, but will shift him back to receiver on isolated passing situations. Other standouts for the Grizzlies include linebacker Ken Vidal, wide receiver Travis Knuteson and defensive tackle Sione Taulaunga.
NEW COACH: Former West Jordan assistant Ron Halbert Jr., a product of Roy High and Southern Utah University, is the first football coach at Copper Hills High School. He is joined on the inaugural Grizzlies staff by Tom Molen, Wes Gross, Randy Tree, Jared Martin, Todd Eggbert, Troy Eggbert, Robert Vidal and Jesse Valenzuela.
Results of the league coaches straw poll
4th West Jordan
7th Copper Hills