The football landscape in Region 10 looks a lot different for the league's three holdovers, Park City, Wasatch and Union, this fall than it did last fall.
Gone are Judge and Uintah, taken away through the UHSAA's realignment process. Judge, which enjoyed really good football rivalries with all three of the schools it left behind, was shuttled to another 3A region, while Uintah, Union's arch-rival and a football program that the other two schools respected, was boosted up to 4A.
In their place, the UHSAA added football doormats Carbon and ALA to complete Region 10, making the league clearly not as powerful of a football region as it was last year.
Wasatch coach Steve North didn't try to mince words when discussing what he thinks realignment has done to Region 10's football picture.
"Our region is weak. It is," said North. "I think our region is probably the weakest one in 3A. It's weaker than it has been in the past. You lose Judge. You lose Uintah. Uintah's OK. They're not fantastic, but they come and play ball."
None of that is meant to be disrespectful to Carbon or ALA; it's just that North and everyone in his football program is sad to see Judge and Uintah go.
The feeling is largely the same up the road at Park City High.
Park City coach Brandon Matich said he wanted to reserve full judgment on Carbon and ALA until he had the chance to see them up close this fall, but his school enjoyed a really good football rivalry with Judge since he became the football coach back in 2005.
"We're gonna miss Judge. That's a huge deal for our kids," said Matich, whose team returns 18 starters and is the clear front-runner in Region 10.
On the other hand, Wasatch struggled last year to a disappointing 2-9 record, but — like arch-rival Park City — brings back a ton of experience and is expected to turn things around this fall. Accordingly, when you consider that Union only has one starter back on offense and just three on defense, it stands to reason that Park City and Wasatch will probably fight it out for the Region 10 crown.
"When I look at our region, Park City and Wasatch are above us three (Union, Carbon and ALA). That's how I see it," said Union coach Sam Elliott. "Us three will be competing for the (two) playoff spots. We'll go battle against Wasatch and Park City. We'll go out there and give it our all, but they'll be tough games to win."
If the Region 10 title is ultimately decided between Wasatch and Park City, everything will be on the line when those two schools meet at Wasatch High in the final week of the regular season.
Region 10 projections
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)
1. PARK CITY: After losing in the first round of the 3A playoffs in heartbreaking fashion in 2006 and 2007, the Miners finally broke through in the postseason under coach BrandonMatich last year. Park City got to the semifinals before losing to Juan Diego, and one season later, the Miners return a ton of starters and will aim to build on that postseason success. SeniorsErikWalker (QB), DylanChynoweth (FB), MatChristensen (LW) and AndyProctor (RW) compose what promises to be one of the state's best backfields, and they should anchor the Miners' squad this fall. Walker rushed for 1,048 yards and threw for another 500 last fall, while Chynoweth racked up 1,400 rushing yards and Christensen added 500. Park City has solid players to anchor both of its lines, and guys like AlexMolinaro (CB/WR), BrianSchettler (S/WR) and DillonOlsen (TE) should all shine. 2008 RECORD: 7-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the semifinals.
2. WASATCH: By its own lofty standards, Wasatch's 2-9 record last season was totally unacceptable to the Wasps. But it hopes to bounce back in a big way this fall. Wasatch has shifted to a spread-oriented attack on offense, hoping to utilize the stellar wide receivers that the Wasps possess. The change in schemes has been designed to benefit senior star MikeDavis, who has moved from running back to slot receiver. Fellow receivers AlexProbst,CoryNielson and CarsonCook will also hope to thrive, and it'll be up to senior quarterback PaytonDavis to get them the ball. Davis threw for 1,574 yards last year. Middle linebacker KalebMoritz will anchor Wasatch's defense and is a key team leader. 2008 RECORD: 2-9. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.
3. UNION: With just one full-time starter returning on offense and only three full-time starters returning on defense, it's pretty obvious that the Cougars have many unknowns heading into the 2009 season. To be sure, it does seem that second-year coach SamElliott has some good talent at his disposal, but that talent is definitely untested. Senior leader ChaseConnary (RB/LB) is Union's lone returning starter on offense and is one of the three returners on defense. BraxtonNielsen and ThomasBerrett are the other two. Besides those three, expect QB PaulNelson and OL MikeGarner to have big seasons for the Cougars. 2008 RECORD: 5-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.
4. CARBON: Second-year coach LeoPaur expects to have 26 players in his varsity squad this fall, but while the Dinos obviously lack any depth, they hope to make up for it in quality. Paur genuinely believes in the guys that he has, and he believes they can take big steps forward this fall. Leading the way will be senior linemen MaxMiner,JesseBigelow and DaveFonnsbeck, who will anchor Carbon on both sides of the ball. DamienOlsen leads a capable stable of running backs, and QB DustyBlackham will try to get the ball to receivers NicoValesquez and CameronWalker. Carbon will probably fight with ALA for Region 10's fourth and final playoff spot, making their Week 7 meeting all the more important. 2008 RECORD: 0-10. PLAYOFFS: Did not make the playoffs.
5. AMERICAN LEADERSHIP: The Eagles have won only three varsity football games in the short three-year history of ALA, but they hope to take big steps forward in 2009. Taking steps forward has been first-year coach DaveLewis' main objective since he took over the program after last year. He's completely overhauled the way that ALA's football program is run, and the Eagles hope that pays dividends. Returning second-team All-State selection MarcusMonsen will lead the way on both sides of the ball, junior quarterback HunterMorley has potential and senior standout ToniPulu should anchor both of ALA's lines after not playing last year. Defensively, look for CadeTaylor and TylerZeeman to be important players. As is the case with Carbon, just getting to the playoffs will be a big accomplishment for the Eagles. 2008 RECORD: 0-10. PLAYOFFS: Lost in a 2A play-in game.