With the start of the 2021 high school football season just over five weeks away, there’s been a satisfying normalcy to the summer as teams haven’t been bogged down by COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.

When the season finally does kick off Aug. 13, expect similar normalcy with the state title contenders.

In the Deseret News’ annual coaches preseason class-by-class rankings, four of the five state champs from last year have been pegged as the favorites again in 2021.

Defending champions Corner Canyon (6A), Orem (5A), Juab (3A) and Beaver (2A) were all tabbed as the preseason favorites in their respective classifications, while Pine View edged Sky View for the top spot in 4A. Sky View beat Pine View in the 4A title game last season.

With the return of 1A football this year, there’s a sixth preseason No. 1 as well as Duchesne gets the early nod in the state’s smallest classification.

Four of the five preseason favorites from last year went on to win their respective state championship.

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6A projections

Corner Canyon’s preseason projection is no surprise as the Chargers have won three straight state championships and are in the midst of a 40-game win streak. Duchesne owns the state record with 48 straight victories from 2010 to 2014, a record Corner Canyon no doubt expects to break before the playoffs.

There are no cupcakes on the schedule, though. Of the four other teams in the 6A preseason rankings (Lone Peak, Skyridge, American Fork and Bingham), Corner Canyon is scheduled to play all four.

Defense could be the catalyst in 2021 for Corner Canyon with nine returning starters.

“Our defense has a chance to be a very good unit. We have a lot of returners on that side of the ball,” said Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar.

Corner Canyon is also looking to become just the eighth team in state history to win four straight state championships.

5A projections

For 5A preseason favorite Orem, it already knows what winning four straight state titles feels like. In 2021, it’s going for five in a row. That would put Orem in some pretty elite company as only three other schools in state history have won five straight championships.

It’s been roughly a century since West (eight straight) and East (six straight) enjoyed their big winning streaks, but Skyline did so much more recently with a five-year run from 1995 to 1999.

Timpview, East, Olympus and Brighton round out the top five in 5A.

East’s return to 5A football after a four-year run in 6A certainly gives Orem another formidable foe to contend with during its quest for a five-peat.

4A projections

In 4A, Pine View is loaded with returning talent as it gets top billing in the preseason rankings just ahead of defending champion Sky View.

Rounding out 4A’s top five are Ridgeline, Dixie and Desert Hills.

There are only 13 teams in 4A this year because of UHSAA realignment, which means every state tournament in every sport over the next two years will be a showdown between Northern Utah’s best against Southern Utah’s best. It was often that way anyway, but most agree the limited number of teams dilutes things a bit.

With the addition of 1A football this year, the state’s three smallest classifications will have similar participation numbers as well. Class 3A and 2A each have 12 teams, while 1A has 11 teams.

3A projections

Juab is the defending state championship in 3A and the early favorite to repeat despite just a handful of returning starters.

Morgan, Juan Diego, Grantsville and North Sanpete round out the top five in 3A.

2A projections

In 2A, preseason No. 1 Beaver is seeking a third-straight title, but the quality of competition will be more difficult than the past two years.

Of the four teams that round out the 2A preseason top five — San Juan, South Summit, Summit Academy and Delta — all four participated up a classification in 3A the past two years.

“There are a lot of very good programs in 2A and we are looking forward to see how we stack up against them this year,” said Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall.

1A projections

While Beaver’s path to a title certainly gets tougher this year, for Duchesne the return of 1A football definitely makes its path to a title easier.

Over the past two years, Duchesne lost to Beaver in the semifinals and then the championship, but it doesn’t have to worry about Beaver anymore.

The toughest tests for 1A preseason No. 1 Duchesne will be Kanab, Milford, Enterprise and North Summit, who round out the top five.


2021 preseason high school football rankings

Each year, the Deseret News asks every football coach in the state to vote for the top five teams in their classification. The votes are tallied, and five points are assigned for a first-place vote, four for a second-place vote, etc. Coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own team. The following are the results from the coaches who elected to participate (first-place votes indicated in parenthesis):

Class 6A

Team  Points ’20 record

1. Corner Canyon — 83 — 14-0 (15)

2. Lone Peak — 53 — 12-2

3. Skyridge — 50 — 10-3 (1)

4. American Fork — 42 — 8-4 (1) 

5. Bingham — 24 — 8-4 (1)

Others receiving multiple votes: Weber, Pleasant Grove.

Class 5A

Team  Points ’20 record

1. Orem — 82 — 8-2 (14) 

2. Timpview — 71 — 7-5 (2)   

3. East — 60 — 8-5 (3)   

4. Olympus — 14 — 6-5

5. Brighton — 12 — 10-1

Others receiving multiple votes: Alta, Lehi, Springville, Salem Hills, Wasatch, Park City, Maple Mountain.

Class 4A

Team  Points ’20 record

1. Pine View — 53 — 12-2 (9) 

2. Sky View — 34 — 13-0 (2)

3. Ridgeline — 27 — 9-2

4. Dixie — 22 — 5-6

5. Desert Hills — 9 — 5-7

Others receiving multiple votes: Crimson Cliffs, Snow Canyon, Green Canyon.

Class 3A

Team  Points ‘20 Record

1. Juab — 46 — 12-1 (7)  

2. Morgan — 38 — 8-3 (3) 

3. Juan Diego — 21 — 6-6

4. Grantsville — 20 — 7-6

5. North Sanpete — 16 — 8-3

Others receiving multiple votes: Manti, Canyon View, Richfield, Ogden.

Class 2A

Team  Points ’20 record

1. Beaver — 30 — 13-0 (4)

2. San Juan — 26 — 8-4 (2)

3. South Summit — 21 — 4-6

4. Summit Academy — 20 — 9-3 (2)    

5. Delta — 7 — 5-8

Others receiving multiple votes: Millard, Emery, American Leadership.

Class 1A

Team  Points ’20 record

1. Duchesne — 34 — 11-1 (6)    

2. Kanab — 25 — 8-3 (2) 

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3. Milford — 19 — 6-7

4. Enterprise — 18 — 8-4

5. North Summit — 16 — 7-4

Others receiving multiple votes: Parowan.

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