East finished its season by going 14-0 and defeated two storied out-of-state programs to finish atop the Preece Power Poll.
Preece Power Poll (final)
- East (4A)/14-0/Jaylen Warren an unstoppable force
- Bingham (5A)/14-0/Miners hold off Lone Peak to win 5A crown
- Lone Peak (5A)/12-2/Two losses on season to 5A champs
- Springville (4A)/12-1/23-2 in last two seasons earns huge respect
- Jordan (5A)/8-3/High-flying offense but defense lacking to contend
- Fremont (5A)/10-2/Silverwolves have very good year
- Alta (4A)/11-2/Josh Davis led high-octane Hawk offense
- Timpview (4A)/9-3/Gave East its best game inside Utah
- Highland (4A)/8-3/Solid season again for Rams
- Lehi (5A)/8-4/Pioneers have good year despite losing enrollment
- American Fork (5A)/8-6/Cavemen made nice 5A playoff run
- Desert Hills (3AA)/10-2/Epic comeback completes 3AA title run
- Pine View (3AA)/10-3/Just short again against cross-town rival
- Dixie (3AA)/7-4/Injuries to key players doomed Flyers
- Syracuse (5A)/7-4/Titans had big playoff win vs. West Jordan
- West Jordan (5A)/8-3/Jags had best season in years
- Roy (5A)/7-3/Solid season filled with some enigmatic losses
- Woods Cross (4A)/6-5/Better than record with a very tough schedule
- Sky View (5A)/6-4/Bobcats stopped by Lehi in first round in 5A
- Taylorsville (5A)/5-7/Warriors stunned Davis in 5A playoffs
- Davis (5A)/7-4/Darts derailed early in playoffs again
- Hunter (5A)/5-6/Wolverines won two play-in games
- Pleasant Grove (5A)/6-5/Second half of season much better
- Herriman (5A)/5-5/2015 5A champs taken out in play-in game
- Layton (5A)/6-4/Lancers lost play-in game to Hunter
- Viewmont (5A)/6-5/Vikings finish in a 3-way tie in Region 2
- Granger (5A)/6-5/Lancers lost in play-in game to Layton
- Stansbury (3AA)/9-3/Stallions' magical season ended in 3A semifinals
- Tooele (3AA)/9-2/Buffs followed 2015 season with another good year
- Beaver (2A)/11-1/Beavers claim second straight 2A title
- Juan Diego (3A)/8-4/Soaring Eagle peaked to win 3A title
- Juab (3A)/8-4/Wasps downed by Juan Diego in 3A semifinals
- Maple Mountain (4A)/7-6/Golden Eagles won seven of last eight games
- Provo (4A)/7-5/Record-setting Ty Jones led Bulldog attack
- Box Elder (4A)/6-6/Bees stunned Olympus in 4A first round
- Olympus (4A)/8-3/Titans claimed Region 6 title
- Kearns (4A)/8-3/Cougars had some nice wins on season
- Northridge (5A)/4-7/Knights qualified for 5A playoffs
- Orem (4A)/5-7/Tigers had big wins but some big losses as well
- Skyridge (4A)/6-5/Falcons had very good inaugural season
- Corner Canyon (4A)/6-5/Beat Alta and Timpview but still missed playoffs
- Bear River (3AA)/8-4/Bears came on strong at end of season
- Ridgeline (3AA)/8-4/First-year school turned heads in 3AA
- Westlake (5A)/4-6/Thunder can’t win enough league games
- Salem Hills (4A)/6-5/Skyhawks’ season ended by Timpview
- Summit Academy (2A)/9-2/Semifinal appearance by charter school
- Delta (3A)/9-4/Rabbits were 3A runner-up
- Brighton (5A)/3-6/Bengals were disappointing in 2016
- South Summit (2A)/10-2/Wildcats fall short to Beaver in 2A final
- Wasatch (4A)/6-5/Wasps stopped by Highland in 4A first round
- San Juan (2A)/9-2/Broncos stopped in 2A semifinals
- Morgan (3A)/8-4/Trojans had solid season
- Bountiful (4A)/2-8/Losing eight games unheard of for Braves' program
- Park City (3AA)/6-6/Miners had some nice wins in 2016
- Hillcrest (4A)/3-7/Playoff appearance big step for Husky program
- Skyline (4A)/4-6/Eagles got run over by East to end season
- Cedar City (3AA)/4-6/Program stuck in rugged 3AA South
- Enterprise (2A)/8-3/Wolves had very good season
- Ben Lomond (3AA)/5-6/Scots made huge strides in 2016
- Hurricane (3AA)/3-7/No playoff magic for Tigers
- Spanish Fork (4A)/3-6/Dons missed playoffs in 2016
- Duchesne (1A)/11-1/Eagles back on top in 1A
- Weber (5A)/3-6/Warriors missed 5A playoffs
- Mountain Crest (5A)/3-6/Mustangs looking forward to new realignment
- Murray (4A)/3-6/Spartans missed playoffs but beat Juan Diego
- Kanab (1A)/11-2/Cowboys fall just short in 1A title game
- Uintah (4A)/4-6/Utes won in preseason but faltered in league play
- Snow Canyon (3AA)/3-7/Warriors struggled to win games in 3AA South
- Riverton (5A)/1-9/Tough season for Silver Wolves
- Canyon View (3A)/4-7/Falcons made 3A playoffs but couldn’t advance
- Grantsville (3A)/4-7/Lost head coach in midseason but still battled
- Manti (3A)/3-7/Forgettable season for solid 3A program
- South Sevier (2A)/4-7/Rams made 2A playoffs but exited early
- North Sanpete (3A)/4-5/Big win over Maple Mountain season highlight
- Emery (3A)/4-6/Spartans battled but could not break through
- Timpanogos (4A)/3-7/Some nice early seasons, but league play was tough
- North Summit (2A)/4-7/Brave season not up to standards
- Grand (2A)/5-6/Solid season but nothing spectacular for Red Devils
- Clearfield (5A)/2-8/Program struggles continue
- Rich (1A)/6-5/Semifinal appearance for Rebels in 1A
- Logan (3AA)/1-9/Won 2015 3AA title, but 2016 season was painful
- Cottonwood (5A)/1-9/Colts' program mired in tough times
- Milford (1A)/7-4/Tigers have best season in over a decade
- Union (3A)/2-8/Cougars struggled in 2016
- Cyprus (4A)/1-8/Pirates continue to find the waters rough
- Bonneville (4A)/1-9/Laker program in tough times
- Gunnison (2A)/3-7/Made 2A playoffs but failed to advance
- West (5A)/0-9/Panther program in free-fall
- American Leadership (2A/4-6/Early season momentum was not sustained
- Diamond Ranch (1A)/4-5/Diamondbacks couldn’t find magic this year
- Layton Christian (1A)/7-4/Breakout season for private school
- Payson (4A)/1-9/Beating Ogden was lone highlight
- 93. Monticello (1A)/3-7/Buckaroos’ season not up to usual standards
- Copper Hills (5A)/0-10/Biggest enrollment in Utah didn’t lead to wins
- Judge Memorial (3AA)/0-10/Bulldogs had extremely rough season
- Parowan (1A)/3-6/Rams made 1A playoffs but couldn’t advance
- Richfield (3A)/1-9/Wildcats have struggled in recent years
- Mountain View (4A)/0-10/Bruins had brutal season
- Ogden (Ind.)/0-10/Independent schedule still didn’t lead to wins
- North Sevier (2A)/1-9/Wolves lacked bite in 2016
- Millard (2A)/0-10/Very uncharacteristic season for Eagles' program
- Monument Valley (Ind.)/4-3/Had winning season playing outside the state
- Carbon (3A)/0-10/Dino program is in the abyss
- Altamont (1A)/1-9/Longhorns struggled in 2016
- Whitehorse (Ind.)/1-5/Raiders play out-of-state for its games
- 106. Wayne (1A)/0-9/Second season playing football didn’t produce wins
Notes: I know some will say Bingham should be No. 1 because it is 5A and has had great success the past decade (or so), but East was more dominant, even against 4A competition. But bottom line, this season East had the wins against out-of-state programs, taking out storied programs Del La Salle (California) and Pulaski (Arkansas). Maybe East will choose to move up to 6A next year and take on the Miners. This would be great to see.
For the second time in the 3AA championship game, Desert Hills won on the last play of the game. Pine View has now lost six championship games. Desert Hills won its second state title. But its game with the Panthers was a game for the ages with some clutch play down the stretch. And the Quinn Kiser’s shuffle pass to Gavin Young has to go down as one of the headiest plays in Utah prep football history. What a game, and it’s too bad one team had to lose.
I alluded in my midseason power poll to keep an eye on Maple Mountain, and the Golden Eagles didn’t disappoint, winning seven games in a row to rebound from a 0-5 start. You can’t blame Maple Mountain for being crushed by East to end its run because the Leopards did that to just about everybody this year.
Lost in the hoopla of East’s dominance was the fine season put together by Springville. The Red Devils have gone 23-2 the last two seasons, and both losses have been to East, this year in the 4A title game, the previous year in the semifinals.
In 2A, the second-place teams from each league actually made the state finals. Beaver took out 2A North champ Summit Academy in one semifinal, while South Summit got past San Juan in the other. This set up a rematch from the 2015 final, and for the second straight year Beaver pulled through. The Beavers also avenged an early season loss to the Wildcats.
In 3A, the same sort of situation occurred as Juan Diego and Delta placed second in their respective leagues. Juan Deigo took out South champ Juab, while Delta took out North champ Morgan.
One could argue that 2A was better than 3A. Only four 3A programs had winning records, and Juan Diego took home the title despite four losses. The Soaring Eagle found their form in the playoffs, while Delta upset Juab to make the finals.
The most enigmatic team of the year has to be Corner Canyon. The Chargers managed to lose to Orem (twice) and Provo and Skyridge, but beat Alta and Timpview. The Chargers also beat Roy and Maple Mountain. But in the end, Corner Canyon finished 6-5 and couldn’t make the 4A playoffs.
Fellow league rival Orem was also a bit of a mystery, looking great one week taking Timpview to the brink and then generally looking awful against Provo, a team Timpview handily beat. The Tigers had to manage through some early season turmoil but made it through to qualify for the playoffs.
Give Ed Larson some props for his coaching job at Lehi. The Pioneers were 8-4 and finished second to Lone Peak in Region 4. Bingham ended its season but Lehi didn’t embarrass itself either, losing 31-17. What was remarkable about Lehi’s season was the Pioneers have struggled since being classified in 5A but put together a nice season despite the school losing nearly half of its enrollment with the opening of Skyridge.
Speaking of Skyridge, the Falcons had a very good year, going 6-5, but the Falcons did lose some steam at the end of the season, losing three straight. This led to a play-in game with Provo, and the Bulldogs prevailed.
East’s Jaylen Warren, Alta’s Josh Davis and Provo’s Ty Jones were the offensive players of the year by far. Warren rushed for over 3,000 yards, shattering the single-season mark set by Beaver High legend Kelly Smith. Davis broke the 2,000-yard barrier and set the state record for all-purpose yards. Jones finished his career in the top five all-time in touchdowns and had five games with over 200 yards receiving and was in the top 10 in the nation in receiving. Jones is likely heading to the University of Washington next season, while recruiting for Warren and Davis has been inexplicably light. This trio was certainly exciting and dominated the competition.
Not only did Beaver avenge an early season loss to win a state title, so did Duchesne, which got back at Kanab in a defensive classic, 16-14. The Eagles have dominated 1A in recent years and own the state’s longest winning streak at 48 games.
Some nice things are going on in Tooele County as Stansbury made the semifinals with a 9-3 record. Tooele finished 9-2 before being stopped in the quarterfinals by Pine View. Grantsville finished 4-7 but had to deal with the loss of its head coach in midseason.
Brian Preece is a freelance sportswriter. He was also the head wrestling coach of Provo High School from 1994-2006 and in 2006 he was named the Utah Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.