It's an exciting week for me, no question and I really can't wait to get out there and get it going. – Riverton coach Brent Hawkins said.

The prep football season kicks off this Friday with every team across the state hoping to make strong initial impressions after months of preseason workouts, film study and practice sessions. While it's important for all coaches and players involved to make strong debuts, there's exactly 18 such people whose debut this Friday may carry more weight than the others.

During the offseason, 18 new coaches were hired across the state to either continue and build upon the existing success of the programs they're assigned or to rebuild struggling teams.

"It's an exciting week for me, no question and I really can't wait to get out there and get it going," said first-year Riverton coach Brent Hawkins. "I've been around a while, but to coach here at Riverton — it's an area I love and my hope is to build upon the success the program has experienced."

Hawkins takes over for long-time Riverton coach Mike Miller, who saw good success while playing in one of the toughest regions in the state. Due to the established and unique Wing-T system Miller put in place, Hawkins seeks to not fix what wasn't broken.

"The kids we have here believe in Coach Miller's system and we're keeping it for that reason and because it's a proven system," Hawkins said. "We're doing it as a tribute to Coach Miller and because we believe it's the best way to keep the program competitive."

Riverton will host a potent Sky View team Friday that Miller believes will pose a good early test.

"Sky View is loaded and I think we'll be able to find out where we're at as a team rather quickly playing a team like that," Hawkins said. "Like I said, I'm just excited to finally get it underway and so are all of our great players."

On the other end of the spectrum Cottonwood and its first-year coach, Mike Tidwell, who hopes to rebuild the Colts into what they once were. Cottonwood has seen the postseason several times in recent years but has largely failed to advance past the first round and to be considered a legitimate contender.

"We want to make Cottonwood a big deal again," Tidwell said. "We want to show people that we're for real like the Cottonwood teams I remember seeing not so long ago. Teams where some of the best players in the state played. That's the goal."

The Colts open up the season by hosting Olympus, which has almost all of Tidwell's focus, but not all of it. As the program's new coach, Tidwell has recently found at least one potential hang-up that he admits has consumed him over the last week or so.

The potential hang-up involves Woods Cross transfer and standout linebacker Pookie Maka, who has a hearing scheduled on Thursday, just one day before the start of the season, to determine whether he's eligible to play for the Colts.

"It's a big thing for me because you want to see a great young man like Pookie Maka to succeed and to have all the opportunities that he deserves," Tidwell said. "So that's one thing, a big thing, but we have a game on Friday and we certainly want to make a strong first impression while starting to really change the culture here. I'm really excited about the opportunity."

First-year coaches in 2015

Alta, Alema Te'o

Bingham, John Lambourne

Carbon, Josh Huntsman

Cedar, Josh Bennett

Copper Hills, Tavita Sagapolu

Cottonwood, Mike Tidwell

Cyprus, Jed Smith

Dixie, Andy Stokes

Grantsville, Curtis Ware

Gunnison, Jack Pay

Orem, Bob Steele

Riverton, Brent Hawkins

South Summit, Aaron Tillett

Spanish Fork, Jordan Smith

Timpanogos, Daniel Tervort

Uintah, Austin Heaps

Wayne, Rick McCartney

West Jordan, Mike Meifu


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney