SOUTH JORDAN — They gather early in the morning to lift weights. They gather in the late afternoon to run sprints. They gather to watch film, learn plays, share ideas, talk trash and just navigate life.
And as the days grow shorter, and the air will soon begin to get cooler, high school football players everywhere are energized by the endless opportunities of fall.
To kick off the 2010 season, the Deseret News will feature a video countdown of the top 20 prep football teams. The rankings were determined by preseason polls, and the project offers fans a unique glimpse of the top teams.
The series ends today with the state's No. 1-ranked team — Bingham High School.
Dave Peck wants to win as much as any coach. But if his players give it all they have on the field, he will walk away from a season — including one with exceptionally high expectations — a happy man.
The Bingham head coach points to the Miners' loss to Alta two years ago in the playoffs.
"I was so satisfied as a coach that year," he said.
That being said, with 13 players being recruited by Division I schools, Peck expects his team to compete for a 5A title this season.
The pressure his team feels is something they want, something they've earned.
"We've brought it upon ourselves," he said. "Our goal was to get to this point. Nobody will ever put as much pressure on us as we do ... to be the best."
Manoa Pikula, a senior linebacker, said the fact that they're ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 9 in the country is a double-edged sword.
"It's kind of motivating to us," he said. "At the same time, it could beat us."
Wearing the Bingham uniform means living up to the tradition, according to running back Harvey Langi.
"The Bingham (uniform) means you show respect, have class," he said. "It's just the top-notch program in Utah. We'll out-hustle, out-hit anyone. We just show it up there on Friday night."
Like many high school coaches, Peck hopes his players take the lessons of football with them after they graduate. "There is no other game in life that replicates life like football," said Peck.
He will consider his efforts a success if he sees them years after graduation and they greet him with a handshake or a hug.
"If they say in some way Bingham football made a difference in the men they've become," he said, "that's our number one hope."