SOUTH JORDAN — 1946.
That's the enormous monkey on the back of Bingham's football team.
The Miners last won a state football title back in 1946, and everyone associated with the team is fully aware of the fact that the South Jordan school hasn't collected another championship since.
"1946, I mean, my grandpa was like in high school in 1946," joked junior tight end Austin Holt. "It's 60 years to this year. It's weird we haven't won something in 60 years. Basketball, baseball (or) any other sport we've won some state titles."
Everyone associated with Bingham is aiming to finally get rid of that monkey, and it would be fitting to hoist the state title exactly 60 years after Bingham's last football triumph.
Second-ranked Bingham begins its 2006 campaign tonight against No. 5 Alta, beginning at 7. It will be the first of several "huge games" throughout the preseason for the Miners.
Of course, you have to get some breaks to be able to capture a state championship. But coach Dave Peck feels his program has been doing everything that's necessary to be in a position to win a title.
"I can't imagine our program being any better than where it's at right now as far as all the things that are in place," said Peck. "I haven't heard one F-bomb out here all summer, things like that. I feel real good with where our program's at."
Bingham went through last season undefeated but lost to Brighton in the quarterfinals in heart-breaking fashion. Clearly, the Miners have been focused throughout the offseason on becoming good enough to make it back to the point. And this time, they're willing to do anything to avoid a similar outcome.
With five starters on offense and six starters on defense back, there's no reason to think Bingham won't be among the state's elite teams this year. There's the Division-1 prospects — Jordan Pendleton (WR/FS), Star Lotulelei (OL/DL) and Austin Holt (TE) and others, who are complimented by a host of solid players.
Expect the Miners' defense to be solid again. Peck coordinates the defense, which has been among the tops in 5A in recent years.
"Some coaches say they never look at the stats," said Peck, "but you know what? That's one of our goals — to be the best defense in the state, and the only way to judge that is by looking at the points you've given up."
Bingham's first test will come tonight against Alta.
"We still feel like we're a West-side school," said Peck. "Every time we play the Altas, the Skylines, the Brightons, we feel like we're trying to represent the West side, and they're always huge games. The Alta game, right off, I think will be one of the biggest games of the season."
Bingham Miners 2006 football preview
Coach: DavePeck enters his seventh season as Bingham's head coach. During that time, he's built one of the most enviable programs in Utah prep football.
Key players: Two-sport star JordanPendleton, who has committed to play football at BYU, headlines the squad. However, there are a host of other quality players. Offensively, some of those are StarLotulelei (OL), AustinHolt (TE), DougFiefia (RB) and SamLangi (RB). DustyHeap replaces StetsonPeck at quarterback. Defensively, watch out for QuentonPetersen (MLB), BradyVelasquez (CB) and SamTuione (DL). Oh, Bingham also has one of the state's top kickers in junior JustinSorensen.
Strengths: Bingham's focus has been unbelievable and will be an asset throughout the year. This team might be the deepest squad Peck has ever produced. For the first time, the Miners have numerous D-1 prospects on the same team.
Question marks: Hard to find any. Heap doesn't have much experience at the varsity level, but that shouldn't be a huge factor early, considering the Miners plan to run the ball a lot.
Last season: Finished 10-1 and lost to Brighton in the quarterfinals.
Predicted Region 3 finish: Coaches think they'll finish first for the second straight season.
Postseason possibilities: Uh, good. This team will undoubtedly look for a Region 3 crown and will be one of the major contenders come playoff time.
Aug. 18 — ALTA, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Fremont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Jordan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — KEARNS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — at Riverton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — HUNTER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 — AMERICAN FORK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — WEST JORDAN, 7 p.m.