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High school football: Region 7 no longer just Timpview and then everybody else

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Is this the year Timpview’s reign in region play comes to an end?

Excluding the 2012 season in which its region title was stripped for using an ineligible player, Timpview has won the region title every season since 2005. During that time it’s won 63 straight region games, even though two of those 2012 wins were declared forfeits after the fact.

The last time a region foe walked off the field victorious against Timpview was in October of 2005 when Orem won 18-9.

That might end this season.

Alta is loaded with returning starters and pegged as the Region 7 favorite by the coaches. Corner Canyon is very talented and anxious to make amends for last year’s disappointing injury-riddled season. And then there’s Provo, a program that hopes to continue its renaissance under third-year coach Tony McGeary.

Between those three teams, all have the talent to take down mighty Timpview.

Timpview, however, has plenty of motivation of its own. Seeking a fourth straight 4A title last season, the T-Birds were emphatically beat by East in the championship game 49-14.

“They saw something not materialize last year that they kind of expected. I think that was the problem, I believe. Three years of repeat championships. They got pretty entitled and complacent, coaches try and battle it, but sometimes you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink,” said Timpview coach Cary Whittingham.

The T-Birds return four of five starters from last year’s offensive line, and also got a big boost in the offseason when highly recruited safety/quarterback Chaz Ah You transferred from Westlake.

Whittingham isn’t sure the exact role Ah You will play this season, but after the East loss he said the coaching staff is exploring ways to get the more talented kids on the field more often, even if that means less platooning.

“We’re looking at trying to figure out how to get enough out of our elite players, but not so much that we’re burning them out and causing more chance for injury,” said Whittingham.

Timpview’s top challenger will likely be Alta. After a strong 8-4 season last year, the Hawks are expecting another big leap forward under second-year coach Alema Te’o.

Alta is led by senior running back Josh Davis, who led the state with 2,077 yards last season to go along with his 26 touchdowns.

“He’s more explosive, he’s faster than he was last year. He’s dialed in. He really wants to be the guy that leads us to the championship, and that’s the goal, whether that’s a region or a state championship,” said Te’o.

Last season, Alta went 7-0 against teams with a sub .500 record but 1-4 against teams with winning records. Those four losses were all by at least three touchdowns, which means Alta still has a lot to prove before joining the elite ranks in 4A.

Provo finished second in Region 7 ahead of both Alta and Corner Canyon last season, but the season ended on a sour note with a surprising first-round loss to Murray.

“No one is satisfied yet, and it’s our job as coaches to keep them hungry,” said McGeary. “Don’t settle for yesterday’s victory. We’ve got to keep working them hard. This team hasn’t proved anything yet, other than winning the Ute Shoot, and that’s 7-on-7.”

Corner Canyon finished fourth in Region 7 last year, but it was one play away from advancing to the 4A semifinals nonetheless. It ultimately lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to Highland.

“We’ve got to focus fourth quarter. Last year our biggest thing was we never finished these games. We could’ve easily gone almost undefeated last year, but we just never finished games. There was always a fourth quarter stretch killed us,” said Corner Canyon defensive lineman Dillan Grange.

For Region 7’s other four teams, cracking the top four and earning a playoff spot will be extremely difficult.

Orem, Mountain View and Timpanogos finished in a fifth-place tie in Region 7 with 1-5 records last season. Two of the three are under the direction of new coaches this season as Jeremy Hill takes over at Orem, and then former Orem coach Tyler Anderson assumes the reins at Mountain View.

Timpanogos is led by second-year coach Daniel Tervort, and he’s been very impressed with the attitude of his team despite winning just one game last season.

“We were basically a junior varsity team trying to compete at a varsity level," said Tervort. "But the kids grew and got better — kept positive and that was fun to see, even with all our struggles. And that's continued into the offseason."

First-year school Skyridge enters the mix this season, and it had quite a few talented players transfer from Lehi that it should be able to compete with the lower-tier teams in Region 7.

Deseret News projections for Region 7 football teams in 2016

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. ALTA: Josh Davis rushed for 2,077 yards and 26 TDs last season, and he’ll be the focal point of every opposing defense this year. Defenses can’t key too heavily on just Davis because Zach Engstrom is an excellent running back-receiver type, and Landon Maxfield, London Rockwood, Hayden Harrison and Camden Johnsen all had over 200 receiving yards last season. Will Dana takes over at QB. Defensively, Alta returns seven starters, with Mitch Medina and Mitch Tafisi anchoring the linebacking core. 2015 RECORD: 8-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to East 56-37 in 4A quarterfinals.

2. TIMPVIEW: Chaz Ah You’s transfer from Westlake to Timpview is a major coup for the tradition-rich T-Birds. A potential starter at quarterback and in the secondary, Ah You is one of the most highly recruited players in Utah. At QB, he’ll have the luxury of four returning starters blocking for him, Andre Owensby, Jacob Palu, Shintaro Mann and Jacob Jefferies. Defensively, Terrence Faumui and Jackson Craves are back on the D-line, while Donovan Faumui is a returning starter at linebacker. In the secondary, Morgan Anderson is back at corner back. Kolby Enosa and Karene Reid are a couple of key newcomers on defense. 2015 RECORD: 11-2. PLAYOFFS: Lost to East 49-14 in 4A championship.

3. CORNER CANYON: Running the ball on this defense is going to be extremely difficult with three talented returning starters, Kaden Wright, Shaun Stockwell and Dillan Grange. Offensively, Cade Knaphus is the lone returning starter on the O-line, but the newcomers are just as talented as the outgoing starters. Jason Adams is the projected starter at tailback, but Blake Emery and Tai Gonzalez will get plenty of carries as well. Zach Wilson started at QB the second half of last season, and he’s penciled in as the No. 1 heading into this year. 2015 RECORD: 4-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Highland 41-38 in 4A quarterfinals.

4. PROVO: Spencer Jorgensen has been a three-year starter at safety, but he’s moving to QB this year for the Bulldogs. He’ll have a terrific target to throw to. Ty Jones has verbally committed to Washington, and he’s arguably the top receiver in the state. The offense should be strong at running back as well with senior Tevita Ika returning after tallying 167 yards last season. Provo’s defensive line should be terrific, led by Dahilo Ortolano, Kelta Bertagnini, Wade Stubbs and Kalen Robertson. 2015 RECORD: 8-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Murray 26-17 in 4A first round.

5. OREM: First-year coach Jeremy Hill is optimistic about injecting some new energy into a program that missed the playoffs last year and hasn’t had a winning season since 2012. Having strong experience at running back will help. D’Arman Notoa rushed for 452 yards and 5 TDs last year to go along with his 250 receiving yards. Sophomore Puka Nacua is expected to have a big year after recording 254 receiving yards and 3 TDs as a freshman. Leading the way defensively will be linebacker Fatu Atuaia and defensive lineman Tausili Fiatoa. 2015 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

6. TIMPANOGOS: Reflecting on his first year as head coach last year, Daniel Tervort compared his team to a JV team playing varsity football with a bunch of underclassmen contributors. This year’s team is much more suited to compete on Friday nights, led by senior lineman Carlos Bermudez, senior linebacker Garrett Sweeten, senior running back Gage Heward and senior quarterback Casey Hamilton — who is moving over from receiver this season. Hunter Greer will be a key two-way player in the trenches for the T-Wolves. 2015 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

7. MOUNTAIN VIEW: After serving as Orem’s head coach from 2011-2014, and as an assistant there in 2015, Tyler Anderson has moved across town to lead Mountain View’s program in 2016. The Bruins have four combined victories in the past three years. Some of Mountain View’s projected contributors include running back Noah Jensen and wide receivers Mckay Waite and Michael Young. 2015 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

8. SKYRIDGE: In 2013 during Corner Canyon’s first year of existence, the football program went 6-6, earned a share of the region title and advanced to the quarterfinals. Skyridge — which split off from Lehi — would love for similar first-year success. Several of Skyridge’s projected starters were key contributors at Lehi. In fact, receivers Cody Frampton and Wyatt Parkinson both had over 480 receiving yards and six touchdowns at Lehi. Frampton is battling for the starting QB spot along with Connor Meinzer. Andre Chapman, Corbin Hampton and Klayton Driggs will be key contributors defensively.

James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: jedward@deseretnews.com