From top to bottom, you’d be hard pressed to find a region that has as much balance as the new Region 9.

Formerly Region 8, the teams went a combined 15-15 in region play during the 2020 season with no team going undefeated.

Although the region’s number has changed for the upcoming season, its coaches anticipate that the competitiveness within the region will remain the same as it was last year.

“Our region is a deep, really good region and we saw that last year,” Springville coach Willy Child said. “There were tough games from the guys on top, the guys in the middle and the guys that ended up on the bottom. We expect the same thing this year.”

Amid the balance of the region, a favorite has still emerged, as Child and the Springville football program came out on top in the league’s coaches poll. The Red Devils return nine starters on both sides of the ball which Child theorized was the reasoning behind the top ranking.

One of those returning starters is running back Seth Rigtrup, who led the team in rushing last year as a junior en route to first team all-state honors despite missing two games due to COVID-19. Now a senior, Rigtrup will once again be leaned on heavily for the Red Devils.

But Child said his team can’t completely rely upon Rigtrup to move the ball on offense and knows they’ll need to be able to throw the ball as well. Who will be throwing the ball for Springville, however, has yet to be determined as quarterbacks Kade Dellamas (last year’s starter) and Ryder Burton have been splitting reps throughout the offseason.

“We understand that in order to go deeper than we did last year we’re going to have to be able to pass the ball,” Child said. “(Dellamas and Burton) both love to watch film and get better, work in the weight room, they’re both great leaders, so going into mandatory practices our plan is to still split their reps and that may even continue going into the season if needed to. We’re really excited that we have two guys that are really good and give us a good shot to win.”

For the projected second-ranked team in the coaches poll, the Wasatch Wasps, quarterback is not a question mark as senior Adarius Edwards returns with a season of starting experience underneath his belt. As a junior, Edwards threw for 2,406 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 61% of his passes and leading the Wasps to an 8-3 record. 

“This year, (Edwards) is much bigger and stronger than last year,” Wasatch coach Steve Coburn said. “He’s throwing the ball very well right now and his strength this year is going to be his accuracy, but now he’s strong enough to be able to make all the different passes he needs to make in our system.”

Coburn also said that in terms of skill position players, the Wasps may have one of the best groups they’ve ever had, so offensive weapons won’t be in short supply for Edwards.

In the third position is a Provo team that feels it is in prime position to fly under the radar and make some noise within the region. Like the other coaches in the region, Provo coach Kirk Chambers feels any one of the teams, including his own, can finish on top.

“I really feel like it is wide open,” Chambers said. “I feel like most coaches in our region usually do a really good job putting a good product out there so you never know which one is going to pop up. For the most part I feel like we have just as good a chance as anyone else to make a run for it.”

Spanish Fork and Maple Mountain come out of the poll as the fourth and fifth place teams, respectively. The Dons bring back a lot of experience and will look to improve from last season’s struggles, while the Golden Eagles find themselves in the opposite position as they look to replace most of their production from last year’s semifinal run.

Rounding out the rankings from the poll is Salem Hills, which, like Maple Mountain, is just a year removed from an appearance in a 5A semifinal game. Coaches said the fact that the likes of Salem Hills are projected to finish last shows the depth of the region.

“If you’ve got a Salem Hills team ranked as last in a region, you know that region is pretty good because that’s a very good program,” Coburn said.

Some coaches felt that the depth and balance of the region makes preseason polls and rankings almost meaningless since you never know who will show up and perform on any given Friday.

“We’ll take the (No. 1) ranking, but we understand that it doesn’t really mean anything right now,” Child said of his Springville squad. “We know that it’s going to be a tough region and we need to go out and perform on the field and execute. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Region 9 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Springville Red Devils

  • All-time record: 450-419-32 (104 years)
  • State titles: 1 (1985)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Willy Child

Heading into his 10th season as head coach at Springville, where his teams have posted a 64-39 record over that stretch. He’s a graduate of Springville High School and BYU.

Coach Child general outlook

“We have nine returners on offense and defense and have a very hard working and determined group that is hungry to make a run at region and state. We have some talented kids that got varsity time last year. We have some QBs competing for starting job and plan to use our talented backfield to set up the passing game. Our defense will play physical and anchor our team. We have some holes to fill with some younger guys eager to get a look and help us compete in a very talented region and state.”

Offensive coordinator: Doug Bills

2020 offense: 24.3 ppg (14th in 5A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • Pro-style offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Seth Rigtrup, TB
  • Cole Clement, TE/WR
  • Bradey Mortensen, WR
  • Zack Antinino, WR
  • Will Penrod, FB
  • Carlitos Cornejo, OT
  • Dallin Johnson, C
  • Porter Small, OT
  • Kade Dellamas, QB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Walker Diede, TE

Defensive coordinator: Dave Valeti

2020 defense: 22.4 ppg (12th in 5A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Porter Small, DE
  • Tyson Naufahu, DT
  • Will Penrod, LB
  • Cole Clement, LB
  • Will Udall, C
  • Bradey Mortensen, FS
  • Zac Antinino, C
  • Seth Rigtrup, SS
  • Ryder Poulson, LB

2. Wasatch Wasps

  • All-time record: 475-392-18 (97 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Steve Coburn

Entering his 10th season at Wasatch, where his teams have posted a 57-42 record. Coburn has five years of head coaching experience at Snow College (2006-2010) and 18 years head coaching experience at the high school level. He was 13-6 at Morgan (1988-89), 11-29 at Ogden (1994-1997), 2-17 at Cottonwood (1998-99) and 4-7 at North Sanpete (2011). He’s a graduate of Bonneville High School and BYU.

Coach Coburn general outlook

“There is a lot energy and focus at Wasatch High school. Players are anticipating the 2021 season. We have excellent skill players returning after being senior heavy last season. We will need players to step up on the offensive and defensive line.”

Offensive coordinators: Chase Roberts, Devin Lindley

2020 offense: 28.1 ppg (10th in 5A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Adarius Edwards, QB
  • Jarinn Kalama, WR
  • Josh Sanders, WR
  • Chris Cook, RB
  • La’a Kalama, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Josh Sanders, WR
  • La’a Kalama, WR
  • Will Griffin, OL
  • Nalu Kitashima, WR
  • Quezon Villa, WR

Defensive coordinator: Nate Knight

2020 defense: 21.9 ppg (10th in 5A)

  • 3 returning starters.
  • 3-3-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Jarinn Kalama, DB
  • Breken Bowen, DL
  • Josh Sanders, DB
  • La’a Kalama, DB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Ben Wright, OLB
  • Blake Smith, OLB
  • Peter Meuzelaar, DB

3. Provo Bulldogs

  • All-time record: 457-465-26 (106 years)
  • State titles: 1 (1982)

2021 schedule

Merilyn Chambers

Head coach: Kirk Chambers

Is heading into his second season as head coach at Provo, after a 4-7 debut season in 2020. He previously was the head coach at Spanish Fork for three years from 2012-2014, where his teams posted a 23-14 record. He’s a graduate of Provo High School and Stanford University. He spent seven years in the NFL, playing for the Browns, Bills, Bengals and Falcons.

Coach Chambers general outlook

“We’re pretty optimistic. The big returners we have are Loga Lesa and Daniel Asisi as our linebacker core is stacked, we have lineman up front with returning starters there as well, and the addition of Strantz Mangisi who was injured last year. Then skill-wise we’re in a really good place and our quarterback is returning in Jace Welsch. With summer camp, and how well we did in some of our scrimmages we feel pretty confident going into this year with our abilities.”

Offensive coordinator: Brandon Condie

2020 offense: 22.1 ppg (17th in 5A)

  • 7 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Jace Welsch, QB
  • Rock Magleby, WR
  • Jamison Harward, RB – recovering from injury
  • Joe Folau, OL
  • Emmett Pan, OL
  • Davis Peay, OL
  • Lincoln Leuga, OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Talo Takitaki, WR
  • Tomasi Hifo, WR
  • Ty Larsen, WR
  • Loga Lesa, TE
  • Daniel Asisi, TE
  • Strantz Mangisi, OL

Defensive coordinator: Joe Tuha

2020 defense: 28.5 ppg (17th in 5A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Loga Lesa, LB
  • Daniel Asisi, LB
  • Ty Larsen, CB
  • Lincoln Leuga, DL
  • Emmett Pan, DT

Key defensive newcomers

  • Joe Folau, DT
  • Kioni Ma’ae, DT
  • Nilo Rosales, S
  • Talo Takitaki, S

4. Spanish Fork Dons

  • All-time record: 387-465-20 (101 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Dustin Smith

Heading into his first season as head coach at his alma mater after guiding the Dons to a 4-8 record in 2020. He’s a graduate of UVU and founded QB Elite in 2011.

Coach Smith general outlook

“We will have some really good skill position players returning. Last year we had a lot of season-ending injuries and we are hoping to get many of these players back to full strength. We will have a few young players that will need to step up on the O and D line as well as some crucial backups that will need to be ready to play.”

Offensive coordinator: Dustin Smith

2020 offense: 29.9 ppg (eighth in 5A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Zac Dart, QB
  • Cade Olsen, WR
  • Jace Gunter, WR
  • Tayson Reid, RB
  • Bow Bow Schwenke, OL
  • Curt Hernandez, OL
  • Wyatt McKay, OL
  • Josh Buck, RB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Austin Stevenson, QB/K

Defensive coordinator: Harry Schwenke

2020 defense: 31.6 ppg (20th in 5A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • 4-2-5/4-3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Tayson Reid, LB
  • Tubby Reupena, DL
  • Teni Worthen, S
  • McKay Peery, DB
  • Joey Trageser, DB
  • Brenner Shepherd, LB
  • Chase Pepper, DB
  • Darian Harrison, LB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Austin Stevenson, LB

5. Maple Mountain Golden Eagles

  • All-time record: 58-76 (12 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Brad Burtenshaw

The only head coach in Maple Mountain’s history, Burtenshaw is entering his 13th season as head coach with a 59-75 record over that stretch. He’s a graduate of San Juan High School and the University of Utah.

Coach Burtenshaw general outlook

“We lost a lot of experience with our graduated seniors. We return a few starters, but will need to fill a lot of holes. We have a large group of players that are competing for spots and working hard. We are excited for the opportunity to see what our upcoming players can do.”

Offensive coordinator: Clay Denton

2020 offense: 32.3 ppg (fourth in 5A)

  • 2 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Fisher Stokes, C
  • Cole McAllister, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Sean Perrson, WR
  • Bennie Killpack, TE

Defensive coordinator: Brad Burtenshaw

2020 defense: 21.9 ppg (11th in 5A)

  • 3 returning starters.
  • Multiple defenses.

Returning defensive starters

  • Carson Golding, DE
  • Andrew Jensen, LB
  • Cole McAllister, CB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Ben Berky, DT
  • Matt Warren, LB

6. Salem Hills Skyhawks

  • All-time record: 74-70 (13 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Jeff Higginson

Is entering his second season as head coach at Salem Hills after guiding the program to a 9-3 record and semifinal appearance in 2020. He’s a graduate of Spanish Fork High School and UVU.

Coach Higginson general outlook

“We have solid skills returning with an experienced quarterback. Luke DeGraffenried as won five games over the last two season as a backup. We will break in new lineman and running back. Easton Cool should shine at tight end.”

Offensive coordinators: Scott Brumfield, Joel Higginson

2020 offense: 28.6 ppg (ninth in 5A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Zaylenn Fenn, WR
  • Treyson Zobel, WR
  • Grant Barney, OL
  • Easton Cook, TE

Key offensive newcomers

  • Jed Hughes, RB
  • Luke DeGraffenried, QB
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Defensive coordinator: Derek Campbell

2020 defense: 18.8 ppg (fifth in 5A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • Multiple defenses.

Returning defensive starters

  • Clay Lyman, DT
  • East Cook, DE
  • Grant Barney, DT
  • Kobe Carter, CB
  • Zaylen Fenn, LB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jed Hughes, SS
  • Garrett Holt, OLB
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