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Region 3 schools familiar with the team to beat

The region is largely the same, and the king of the region is most definitely the same.

With the exception of swapping in Taylorsville and swapping out Hunter, the Utah High School Activities Association didn't touch the league during its latest round of realignments.

Accordingly, what you're left with is a league full of competitive teams that are trying to chase down one juggernaut.

As is the case before this or any prep football season, the schools inside Region 3 not named "Bingham High" all hope to accomplish some special things this fall, including trying to win a region championship.

But, as Riverton coach Mike Miller pointed out, "you know who it goes through."

During the previous four-year realignment cycle, which coincided with Bingham's rise to juggernaut status in the state of Utah, the Miners went 20-0 against region opponents and won all 20 of those games by double-digits.

Heading into a new realignment cycle, the Miners will be doing everything they can to make sure that nobody inside their region ends that dominance anytime soon.

"Ever since (Bingham coach Dave) Peck took over here, all the years he's been coaching he's been having amazing stats. And when it comes to region, we just want all the other schools around us to know who's the school to beat," said Bingham star tailback Harvey Langi, a junior captain who already has offers from Utah, BYU and Stanford. "We wanna make a statement that we run harder, work out harder, hit harder.

"That's the only way to prove it — out on the field. You can talk all you want, but we just come out there and dominate and we just wanna keep that up in our region."

Bingham won the state championship in 2006 and has advanced to at least the semifinals in each of the last three years. However, before they worry about trying to win a state championship, Peck says his squad focuses on trying to win a region championship first.

"Our No. 1 goal is to be region champs," he said. "We'll do things in the preseason to basically get ready for region. (In the) preseason, it doesn't matter what your record is, but you better get things figured out by region because if you wanna go far in the playoffs, you gotta have a high seed.

"If you can be the No. 1 seed, you've got a good opportunity to get two home playoff games and that can get you to the semifinals. And once you get to the semifinals, anything can happen."

That's precisely what the Miners have been doing, and it's up to everyone else in Region 3 to try to dethrone them.

"Bingham," said Kearns coach Bill Cosper, "is obviously the cream of the crop until somebody knocks them off."

Region 3 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)

1. BINGHAM: Heading into Game 1 against Viewmont, coach Dave Peck plans to platoon with no players going both ways. On offense, junior tailback Harvey Langi has grown to almost 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and will be a huge handful for opposing defenses this fall. He rushed for 1,373 yards last year and should have an even bigger season this year. Around him, QB Ty Hanny and back-up tailback Inoke Taufalele are stellar, as are offensive linemen Tuni Kanuch, Brandon Taukeiaho and Braydn Heap. Defensively, Braden Anderson will help lead a talented bunch, Seni Fauonuku should have a break-out year and kicker Braeden Loveless is solid. 2008 RECORD: 11-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the state championship game.

2. RIVERTON: Coming off a seven-win season, the Silverwolves hope to break through in the postseason. Senior tailback Dillon Draper will anchor what should be a deep stable of running backs, which includes Tua Laei and Connor Evans. Center Trey Sandness should be a solid contributor along the offensive line, while Jentz Painter will be an important player on both sides of the ball. Another guy who will go both ways and should enjoy a fantastic season is Landon Fisher. Besides those two, look for Skyler Fullmer, Cole Osborne and Ben Lindsey to also shine on defense. 2008 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.

3. WEST JORDAN: Coach Mike Morgan has decided to go away from West Jordan's traditional grind-it-out offense, with his assistants installing a spread offense for the Jags to run this fall. Deshawn Perkins, C.J. O'Neal, Jonny Collins and Martavius Redmond are among the receivers quarterback Adam Boelter will try to get the ball to. West Jordan will undoubtedly be anchored by four-year starters Dustin Christensen and Colton Van Komen. Cody Burns, Junior Lapale and Braeden Loftus should be important contributors along the offensive line. 2008 RECORD: 6-4. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

4. KEARNS: Kearns is in the process of trying to replace an outstanding outgoing senior class, but the Cougars have plenty of talent in their system to try and cope. With seven returning starters back on defense, compared to just two returning starters on offense, putting a stellar defense on the field will be particularly important for the Cougars early on. James Bernard will look to lead the way on that side of the ball and is surrounded by very good players, including Siosifa Pekipaki and Dennis Phaophongsavath. J.R. Finai and Inoke Felila are the returners on offense. Finai shined at quarterback as a sophomore and should be even better. 2008 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.

5. COPPER HILLS: First-year Kai Kapele is hoping that his players will be able to reach their full potential this fall. On defense, Braxton Magalogo will lead the way for the Grizzlies. A standout at defensive end last fall, Magalogo has since moved to middle linebacker and is expected to be a key player at that position. On offense, receivers Cam Smith, Chris Martinez, Chandler Allen and Chandler Johnson are all solid, as is running back Colton Fogarty. The Grizzlies main objective this fall will be to get into the playoffs. 2008 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Did not make the playoffs.

6. TAYLORSVILLE: New coach Jonny Matich has installed a Wing-T offense, and he's got a number of good running backs at his disposal, including returning starter Nate Azera. The talented senior should put up big numbers, with fellow running backs Jayce Hansen, Nate Stuart and Devin Keeling filling important roles behind him. On defense, Siliva Tapusoa will be a huge part of the Warriors' new-look 4-3 defense. Lineman Matt Cude figures to be an important player on both sides of the ball. As is the case with Copper Hills, trying to get to the postseason is the main thing for Taylorsville this year. 2008 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not make the playoffs.

e-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com