The realignment of regions and classifications over the offseason was generally met with applause by teams that are now a part of a newly-formed Region 10. The six teams set to compete in Region 10 should all receive a boost of both morale and potential given the new possibilities.
"It's no secret that we've been struggling here — trying to rebuild the program pretty much from scratch," said second-year Mountain View coach Tyler Anderson. "So having the top teams in our region — teams like Timpview, Skyridge and Alta — move on up to 5A, that should help us."
The Bruins competed in Region 7 last year and very much took it on the chin — losing all of their games while competing against programs with far more numbers and talent. Only Orem remains from Region 7 and almost everyone has tagged the Tigers as Region 10's team to beat.
"They have a lot of talent up there," observed first-year Salem Hills coach Harry Schwenke. "They get that talent going and playing well again this year and yeah, that's the favorite, in my mind."
Orem enters the 2017 season with 15 returning starters and big-name athletes, such as receiver Puka Nacua, quarterback Cooper Legas and lineman Tausili Fiatoa, just to name three. The Tigers made the playoffs out of a brutally tough Region 7 last year before being upended by eventual 4A state runner-up Springville in the first round of the playoffs.
Springville has since moved on to the 5A ranks, along with several other teams from the old Region 8, where Salem Hills used to compete.
"I like that we're still with Spanish Fork — that's a great rival for us, but also the opportunity to go against great programs like Orem and Mountain View," Schwenke said of the new region. "We feel we can be a top team in this region if we put in the work and I'm excited. We're all excited."
Indeed the Skyhawks looks to be a top contender with a number of returning starters, along with an improved attitude under their new head coach.
As for the Dons, they return a whopping 18 starters from last year's team, which has coaches predicting a third-place finish, although the amount of talent returning could certainly mean a higher finish.
Uintah, Payson and Mountain View round out the region, and although all three have struggled mightily in recent years, the feeling is the new realignment gives each a fighting chance.
"We're getting our numbers there and you're seeing the kids believe more in what we're doing by how they've worked in the offseason," Anderson said. "Overall the new region should prove to be a very good thing for us, but it still won't be easy. There's a lot of great teams we'll have a tough time competing against."
Deseret News projections for Region 10 football teams in 2017
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)
1. OREM: The Tigers are talented, experienced and stand as not only the favorite to win Region 10, but as one of the favorites to win the 4A state championship. All the key positions receive green check marks going in, including the quarterback position and what looks to be very formidable offensive and defensive fronts. Should Orem forge all that talent into a hardworking and focused team, then the last team standing in 4A is certainly in the realm of possibility. 2016 RECORD: 5-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Springville 42-17 in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
2. SALEM HILLS: There's a lot of returning talent within the Skyhawks program although there will be question marks at some positions, including at running back where they'll work to replace Vili Wolfgramm. The return of quarterback James Nelson should be a big boost, along with the return of three of last year's starting five offensive linemen. 2016 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Timpview 66-19 in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
3. SPANISH FORK: No one in Region 10 returns more starters from last season than the Dons, who struggled to a 3-6 record and missed the playoffs. They were competitive in most of the losses, however — particularly in narrow ones to both Springville and to Salem Hills. Look for the new competition and returning players to provide a significant boost, likely vaulting Spanish Fork into the playoffs and perhaps to the top of the Region 10 standings. 2016 RECORD: 3-6. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
4. UINTAH: Returning starters won't be a benefit for the Utes, as only four of last year's frontline players are back in 2017. Subsequently, it may be hard for Uintah to bridge the gap between itself and the top three teams, although one of the returning starters is quarterback Kyle Henderson, who threw for 972 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago. 2016 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
5. PAYSON: The Lions were made to compete against programs with much more numbers in recent seasons, and will undoubtedly receive a boost playing against competition more in line with the school's population. After winning a single game against winless Odgen last year, there's nowhere to go but up this season. 2016 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
6. MOUNTAIN VIEW: The Bruins return 13 starters from last year's team that endured a frustrating season and wound up winless. That could change in 2017, considering almost all of their region competition got bumped up to 5A, but there's still a ways to go until Mountain View becomes a legitimate contender. Leading the way will be sophomore starting quarterback Duce Anderson. 2016 RECORD: 0-10. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.