Before the season began, Brighton head coach Brett Rosen made the decision to scrap the formation the Bengals had used in previous years and alter the team’s tactical philosophy.
The reason for the change was simple — Rosen wanted to put his players in the best possible position to succeed.
“I changed our formation and our tactical philosophy from previous years to get players in places where they could use their creativity and talents,” Rosen explained.
The overhaul proved to be exactly what Brighton needed.
The Bengals (10-1-5) head into the 5A boys soccer state tournament, which begins Wednesday at high schools across the Wasatch Front, as one of the favorites to claim the state title.
Brighton is the top-ranked team in the classification, per the Deseret News, and has just one blemish on its resume, a 3-0 preseason loss to Skyline.
The Bengals are Region 7 champs and appear to have hit their stride at the most opportune time.
“We are playing great,” said Rosen. “We are finally getting balls in the net, which is something we weren’t doing earlier in the year. We are putting it all together at the right time.
“We have players in the correct positions where they can maximize their talent. Now, we can attack from anywhere. When teams game-plan for us, there isn’t one guy that they have to stop. They have to look at everyone we have going forward.”
On Rosen’s team, 11 Bengals found the back of the net this year, led by David Brog (10 goals).
But with all of Brighton’s alterations, it remains just one of many title contenders in the 5A classification.
Any of the region champions, Skyline (13-3-1) out of Region 6, Box Elder (13-2-1) out of Region 5, or Provo (12-3-1) out of Region 8, have as good a shot as the Bengals.
“All the regions were very tough this year and we feel we have as good a shot as anyone,” Provo head coach Cesar Cardoso said. “We have three teams from our region (Provo, Skyridge and Wasatch) that are very close together and could win it.”
Following Skyline in Region 6 were a trio of legitimate contending teams in Olympus (10-3-3), West (12-2-1) and East (9-7-0).
The trio battled back-and-forth for playoff positioning throughout region play, with the Panthers pulling out home field advantage in the final game of the regular season.
“It was quite the game,” West head coach Kris Hamlet said. “It has been awhile since we have had a home field playoff spot. Our boys really wanted it.”
Region 7 was even more of a mess, with Alta (9-4-3), Timpview (6-10-0) and Corner Canyon (5-8-3) ultimately surviving the carnage.
“Alta is Alta and Corner Canyon is talented, even though they kind of struggled a little at the end of the year,” said Rosen. “Timpview is underrated, that team can score a lot of goals.”
Not to be forgotten are the four schools out of Region 5, particularly Box Elder.
The Bees, led by Mitchell Pyle (18 goals), are ranked second in 5A, while Roy (10-4-1), Viewmont (6-5-4) and Wood Cross (8-7-1) figure to be as tough an out as any team.
“You have to take it one game at a time,” said Rosen. “Every playoff game will be tough.”
“You have to play every game as though it were the final,” added Cardoso. “There are some very good teams.”