The strength of 2A football was not in the West region last year.
Three of last year's semifinalists were from the East region, and with finalists San Juan and South Summit returning over half their starters, they could dominate the overall landscape of 2A again.
The 2A West region isn't nearly as predictable.
"I think our region is pretty balanced. I think we're all right there," said Parowan coach Matt Labrum. "I don't think there's one team that's totally going to dominate."
That's consistent with how things played out last year when Millard, South Sevier and Enterprise tied for the region title. South Sevier was the only team to advance to the semifinals, but it was beaten soundly by San Juan. Millard suffered the same fate a round earlier in a blowout loss to South Summit.
For the 2A West coaches, the goal is to close the gap and be more competitive with the East. For any team, the best way to do that is by winning a region championship and creating an easier path in the playoffs.
Over half the teams in the region believe they're capable of doing that, but it will take five weeks of solid football.
"There's not an easy sister team out there," said Enterprise coach Barry Jones, who implied a lot of it has to do with coaching. "If you're not prepared, you're going to get outcoached."
That's what happened to Enterprise in losing to Millard last year. Millard had the perfect defensive game plan to slow down all-state quarterback Slade Moyle, and it worked splendidly in a 35-19 victory.
"They know how to counteract what you're doing. We didn't do as good a job last year," said Jones.
Like most years, tradition-rich Millard seems to be the slight region favorite heading into the 2010 season despite last year's 45-6 season-ending loss to South Summit.
Another tough preseason schedule should prepare Millard for the balanced region slate, but facing 3A schools North Sanpete, Cedar and Grantsville in consecutive weeks to open the season can have some drawbacks.
"We really feel like we should be prepared going into our region as far as competitiveness, but the downside is how confident are we going to be?" said Millard coach Marshall Sheriff.
South Sevier should be right in the hunt again this year, even with a coaching change. Weston Zabriskie is taking over as head coach for Travis McCallister, and his team returns a bunch of key starters on the offensive line and at running back.
Some coaches believe Kanab might be a bit down this season, whereas others foresee a solid season for Beaver.
The lack of consensus from top to bottom in 2A West appears to be a great indicator that anything can happen in 2010.
"Every game means something, and if you miscue, then you're behind. For us to win this region, we have to win all the games we're supposed to and a few that we're not," said Beaver coach Steve Hutchings.
Class 2A West projections
(Preseason rankings are based on coach votes)
1. MILLARD: Coach Marshall Sheriff was very pleased with his team this summer and excited about the upcoming season, and with seven returning contributors on each side of the ball, it's easy to see why. Nate Robison is a returning starter at QB, as is Francisco Alcala at running back. The Eagles are inexperienced and undersized on the offensive line, but Sheriff likes the work ethic of the kids in those spots. Sophomore Jeremy Aleman and junior Trey Ashton will be the heart of the defense at middle linebacker. The Eagles' secondary also figures to be pretty strong with Wade Barber, Robison and Alcala anchoring things down. 2009 RECORD: 8-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost to South Summit in 2A quarterfinals.
2. SOUTH SEVIER:Colton Argyle, Clayton Higginson and Dane Peterson are all returning starters on the offensive line and a great foundation for first-year coach Weston Zabriskie to work with. The Rams also return a pair of running backs in Austin Manwill and Michael Abbott. Manwill led the team in rushing last year, and Abbott was a 200-meter state champion in track. Defensively, Logan Baker is expected to make big contributions on the defensive end. 2009 RECORD: 9-2. PLAYOFFS: Lost to San Juan in 2A semifinals.
3. BEAVER: With five returning starters on each side of the ball, the Beavers are optimistic about a competitive season this year, despite only eight seniors. The strength will be on the offensive line with returning starters Bo Fotheringham, Ryker Woolsey and Seth Myers. Senior fullback Slade Edwards could benefit from the experience on the line and build on his 800 rushing yards from last year. Defensively, Edwards and Fotheringham will anchor things at linebacker after being among the team leaders in tackles a year ago. 2009 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Grand in 2A first round.
4. ENTERPRISE: Quarterback Slade Moyle will be one of the most exciting players to watch in 2A, and he's coming off a year in which he finished with 28 combined touchdowns. He'll have experience in front of him with Ross Taylor, Brett Schill and AJ Finch — all returning starters on the offensive line. Defensively, Moyle and linebacker Ryan West are both back after leading the Wolves in tackles a year ago. The defensive front will be anchored by Malan Williams and Victor Ramirez. 2009 RECORD: 6-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Grand in 2A quarterfinals.
5. KANAB: Although his team is young and inexperienced, coach Bucky Orton expects his team to still be competitive. There are enough returning starters (three offense, four defense) to help make that happen. A good chunk of that experience is in the trenches where John Terrell and Dan Chamberlain are both back this year. Some new faces in key spots may ultimately be the key, though. Kade Quarnberg will start at quarterback after a productive season at receiver last year, and Cody Barber will start at running back after part-time carries last year. 2009 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to San Juan in 2A quarterfinals.
6. PAROWAN: The Rams are switching to the spread offense and making some personnel changes, as well. Zack Wood is taking over at quarterback, while last year's starter, Ryan Robinson is shifting to receiver. Several other skilled position players could be successful with the offensive switch, but there are major question marks on the line with no returning starters. The are pretty significant question marks all over the defense, as well, excluding what should be a great secondary. 2009 RECORD: 2-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost to South Sevier in 2A quarterfinals.
TUESDAY: 2A East Preview