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Prep region shifts make immediate impacts

Cottonwood is picked No. 1 in first season in Class 4A

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It's a realignment year for the Utah High School Athletics Association, and with the high school football season just around the corner, we'll find out soon exactly what type of impact it makes on the prep football landscape.

Judging by the Deseret Morning News preseason coaches poll, the coaches expect it to have a big impact.

In three of the five classifications, a team cracked the top five that wasn't even a member of that classification in 2004.

The biggest impact should be felt in 3A. As if a classification with Pine View, Bear River, Morgan and Park City isn't tough enough, in 2005 Logan enters the mix after dropping out of 4A, while defending state champion Juan Diego makes the jump from 2A.

Both schools received instant respect from the 3A coaches, checking in at No. 3 and 4 in the preseason rankings.

With six first-place votes, Pine View barely edged defending champion Bear River for the top spot in the 3A rankings. With BYU-bound QB James Lark leading the way, the Panthers may not fall out of the top spot all year.

The top spot in 4A belongs to a Cottonwood team that narrowly lost the 5A championship last year.

Of the 16 4A coaches who voted in the preseason poll, Cottonwood was the overwhelming favorite with 11 first-place votes. With 13 returning starters, including LSU-bound QB Alex Cate and highly-recruited RB Stanley Havili, the Colts have the makings of putting together a special season in 4A.

Traditional 4A powers Bountiful, Box Elder and Timpview also garnered first-place votes, and they round out the top four.

The biggest impact in Class 5A is the addition of Region 4 — all Utah County teams. None of those teams, however, made a dent on the preseason rankings.

With eight of 18 first-place votes, Skyline was tabbed the team to beat in 5A this year, followed by Bingham, Brighton and Davis, who also received first-place votes. With only two returning starters, Skyline may have a difficult time keeping the top spot, especially playing in the revamped Region 2.

In 2A, everyone should benefit from the departure of Juan Diego.

Juab may benefit the most as eight of 11 coaches picked the Wasps as the team to beat after losing in last year's championship game to Juan Diego. Expect Millard, San Juan and Manti to all contend as well.

In 1A, newcomer Kanab received the most first-place votes, but was still edged out by defending state champion Monticello for the preseason No. 1 rankings.

With Kanab dropping from 2A to 1A, the battle for 1A supremacy this year will be better than ever.

Preseason prep football rankings

The top 5 teams in the Deseret Morning News coaches preseason high school football rankings, with first-place votes in parentheses. Points based on 5 points for a first-place vote, through one point for a fifth-place vote:

Class 5A Rankings

Team '04 Rec.Pts.

1. Skyline (8) 11-2 69

2. Bingham (5) 9-3 44

3. Brighton (2) 12-1 41

4. Davis (3) 11-2 40

5. Northridge 8-3 18 1/2

Class 4A Rankings

Team '04 Rec.Pts.

1. Cottonwood (11) 10-4 70

2. Bountiful (2) 6-6 49

3. Box Elder (1) 8-4 36

4. Timpview (2) 12-1 27

5. Mountain Crest 6-5 12

Class 3A Rankings

Team '04 Rec.Pts.

1. Pine View (6) 12-2 67

2. Bear River (5) 13-0 65

3. Logan (7) 6-7 53

4. Juan Diego (1) 13-0 21

5. Morgan 8-4 18

Class 2A Rankings

Team '04 Rec.Pts.

1. Juab (8) 10-3 46

2. Millard (1) 7-4 35

3. Manti (2) 7-3 34

4. San Juan 8-3 20

5. North Summit 7-6 11

Class 1A Rankings

Team '04 Rec.Pts.

1. Monticello (2) 11-1 32

2. Kanab (4) 7-4 30

3. Enterprise (1) 8-4 21

4. Rich 9-3 19

5. Duchesne (1) 6-5 14

Coming Wednesday: Class 1A preview

E-mail: jedward@desnews.com