The Beaver Beavers are the team to beat again in 2A South.

Beaver won the 2A championship in 2015, 2016, and lost the 2017 championship game to South Summit. This season, the Beavers return just two starters on offense and on defense (linebacker and running back Ryker Albrecht and wide receiver and cornerback Spencer Williams) from the 2017 team. Despite the lack of starters on both sides of the ball, both the Deseret News projection and 2A coaches preseason poll have Beaver finishing first in the region.

“Team-wise, it’s always Beaver is the team to beat,” Enterprise coach Andy Messersmith said.

The Beavers are expected to have a rebuilding year, but even still, they are the favorites to win the 2A South.

“Everyone is expecting us to have a rebuilding year, and maybe we will,” Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall said. “Obviously that’s what it looks like. We need our young kids to grow up.”

Ryker Albrecht will be taking over at quarterback for Beaver after rushing for 346 yards and four touchdowns on 82 carries a season ago. Albrecht also has experience at the quarterback position, as he went 9-for-27, throwing for 108 yards and four interceptions. Marshall is confident that Albrecht will be able to get the job done at quarterback.

“Ryker is tough. With our offense, we ask a lot of our quarterback. We’re asking them to run and throw. I was very pleased with how threw the ball at camp. Ryker also runs hard. If he wasn’t our quarterback he’d probably be our starting middle linebacker, but we’re going to play him at safety because he’s our quarterback and we don’t want to beat him up too much. He’s really done a good job at quarterback of learning some of the finesse stuff we’re asking him to do.”

Spencer Williams and Albrecht will anchor the defense as returning starters, after Albrecht finished last season with 56 tackles, while Williams contributed five interceptions and 40 tackles.

Grand, South Sevier and Enterprise are all expected to be in the mix, competing for a region championship, while San Juan and North Sevier have an outside shot at claiming the crown.

“Our region as a whole is very deep. I feel like each team provides a challenge each week, so I believe our region is tough, we’ve got to be ready to go each and every week,” Messersmith said.

Grand made the 4A semifinals last year, losing to South Summit 47-9 while key players were out with injuries. The Red Devils return six starters on offense, including running back Trent Elmore, who racked up six touchdowns and 590 yards after starting halfway through the season. A strong offensive line returns, which will help clear the way for Elmore. Grand also brings back five starters on defense, with linebacker duo Brayden Troutt and Chris Thompson combining for 117 tackles.

South Sevier is trying to come back from a three-win season and looks primed to compete in 2018. The Rams bring back eight starters, including Tyson Chisholm, who rushed for 1,292 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. South Sevier also brings back eight starters on the defensive side. Chisholm led the defense with 138 tackles, four sacks and an interception.

Enterprise will return six offensive starters, including three offensive linemen and quarterback Tyler Hiatt, who threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns as the Wolves’ main quarterback last year. He also threw five interceptions. On defense, Enterprise returns five starters, including Case Jones, who had 48 tackles and two sacks in 2017.

North Sevier returns 10 offensive players from 2017, including quarterback Taylor Crane, who tossed 18 touchdowns, and running back Gabe Wilcox, who rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, the Wolves bring back nine starters, including Tate Johnson and Tanner Sorenson, who combined for 138 tackles last year.

San Juan, who had its first losing season since 2002 last year, will try to rebound in 2018. The Broncos return seven starters on the offensive side of the ball — including quarterback Corbin Palmer, who started four games at quarterback last year, throwing for 626 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions. On defense, the Broncos return five starters, including linebacker Landen Pemberton and lineman Tanner Black.

2A South Projections

Deseret News Projections for 2A South in 2018

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

  1. Beaver: The Beavers are still the team to beat in the 2A South. The 2A runners-up don't return very many starters, but Beaver has a history of success. Ryker Albrecht will be at the helm at quarterback, while Spencer Williams will be a key wide receiver. On defense, Albrecht and Williams will shine at both linebacker and cornerback. 2017 record: 10-2. Playoffs: Lost to South Summit 38-10 in the 2A championship.
  2. Grand: The Red Devils will be hoping to avoid the injury bug in 2018, which crippled the team down the stretch last season. Star running back Trent Elmore will be the go-to running back again this year after having a 590-yard rushing season after becoming a starter halfway through 2017. Grand doesn't have the quarterback position solidified yet. The linebacker core of Brayden Troutt and Chris Thompson will anchor the defense. 2017 record: 9-2. Playoffs: Lost to South Summit 47-9 in the 2A semifinals.
  3. South Sevier: The Rams return a wealth of starters for the 2018 campaign, including quarterback Tracen Winkel and all three running backs (Tyson Chisholm, Tucker Gayler and Branson Palmer). On defense, South Sevier brings back eight starters. Though the Rams won just three games last year, they should be vastly improved this year and contend for a region title. 2017 record: 3-7. Playoffs: Lost to Millard 24-7 in the 2A first round.
  4. Enterprise: The Wolves are trying to rebound from a season in which they won just two games. Enterprise returns six offensive starters and five defensive starters as it tries to vie for its first outright region championship since 2005. Key to the Wolves campaign will be quarterback Tyler Hiatt, along with three returning offensive line starters. On defense, Case Jones, who had 48 tackles. 2017: 2-7. Playoffs: Lost to American Leadership 23-21 in the 2A first round.
  5. North Sevier: The Wolves return nearly their whole team after a 6-5 season. Quarterback Taylor Crane, running back Gabe Wilcox and three receivers, along with a lot of the offensive line are back for 2018. On defense, Tate Johnson and Tanner Sorenson will be anchors. 2017: 6-5. Playoffs: Lost to Delta 54-33 in the 2A quarterfinals.
  6. San Juan: The Broncos will look to bounce back from a 4-7 season, which is unusual at San Juan. The good news for San Juan is that they bring back quarterback Corbin Palmer and offensive lineman Tanner Black, along with five other returning starters. Landen Pemberton and Black will lead the defense.