It’s safe to say that Bingham football is used to being picked to finish at the top of its region.

The last time the Miners failed to win a region title — shared or outright — most of the kids who will suit up for Bingham this season were in the early stages of elementary school (2011).

Once again, the Miners have been voted by the coaches to finish atop their region and head coach Dave Peck said that Bingham’s decade of consistency speaks to the culture that the program has built.

“If we’re not playing for a state title or right there battling for it, it’s a little bit of a disappointment,” Peck said. “That’s just what the expectations are. We expect to be the region champs, we expect to go undefeated and that’s the culture that we’ve built over the years.”

Although Peck acknowledged that Bingham has slipped in state rankings over the last couple of years, he said his team is working as hard as ever to get back to the level of dominance the program was at a few years ago.

The program appears to indeed be up for the challenge with a preseason schedule that features three of the top eight ranked teams in the state (Corner Canyon, American Fork and Weber).

The Miners will look a little unfamiliar this season, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Les Hamilton, who was hired as the team’s new offensive coordinator, will deploy a spread scheme — a different appearance for a team that finished with more rushing yards than passing yards last year.

“(Hamilton) has always been a spread guy, so when I brought him on I said, ‘do what you do,’” Peck said. “I see our team being really fast-paced as far as tempo, getting in a lot of offensive plays.”

Peck said he still expects to see 50-50 balance when it comes to running and passing the ball on offense in an effort to utilize his big, physical offensive line anchored by Baylor commit George Maile.

Next in the rankings is the only region team that managed to beat the Miners last year — the Riverton Silverwolves.

Although it took six Bingham turnovers for the Silverwolves to secure a three-point win last year, it appears as though the win earned Riverton enough respect among the coaches to be voted into the second position in the region’s preseason projections.

The news of receiving the second ranking in the region came as a complete shock to Riverton head coach Jody Morgan, who expected his team to come into the season as a bit of an underdog.

“I’m excited that people think that highly of us, that’s nice,” Morgan exclaimed, adding that the newfound expectations for his team could end up being beneficial. “Expectations are a good thing. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a team like us. We can have some breaks go our way or some go against us, but the good thing is that I know my kids are going to go out there and they’re going to fight. Sometimes we’re in those games where it gets ugly, but every play we’re fighting.”

To live up to those expectations, Morgan and Riverton will need strong quarterback play from returning starter Colby Barton, who won the right to start again this season after a positional battle throughout practices and camp.

“Colby is the guy that we’re expecting to take the next step,” Morgan said. “(He) won the job by calming down, playing his hand and really just enjoying the experience more. I’m excited to watch if he can keep that mindset and play a huge part in our success this year.”

Regardless of where they landed in the preseason rankings, Morgan said his message to the team would’ve been the same. 

“It’s just an opinion, it doesn’t really matter,” Morgan said of the coaches’ projections. “None of them are out here grinding with us. I don’t care if they put us first or last, we’ve got to go and take it one way or the other.”

Coming in at third is Herriman, which also returns its starting quarterback (Jack White) along with nine other starters on both sides of the ball. The Mustangs will feature a bevy of underclassmen and if they are able to find success this season, the rest of the region will undoubtedly be put on notice.

Mountain Ridge, West Jordan and Copper Hills complete the remainder of the rankings, respectively. Morgan and Peck, however, both said they expect Mountain Ridge to be able to make noise as it advances into its third football season.

Overall, coaches said they expect there to be a solid amount of balance in terms of competitiveness within the region.

“(The teams in the region) are all doing some good things from what I’m seeing,” Peck said. “I just think there’s going to be a lot of parity.”

Region 3 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Bingham Miners

  • All-time record: 526-372-30 (97 years)
  • State titles: 11 (1939, 1941, 1945, 1946, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)

2021 schedule

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Head coach: Dave Peck

One of the most decorated coaches in state history, Peck is entering his second season in his second stint as Bingham coach after a five-year hiatus. He previously coached at Bingham from 2000 to 2014, guiding the Miners to a 157-36 record and five state titles (2006, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014). He got his head coaching start at Cyprus from 1995 to 1999, leading the Pirates to a 20-30 record. His all-time coaching record sits at 190-75. Only eight head coaches in state history have reached 200 career wins and Peck could reach that plateau this season. He’s a graduate of Cyprus High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Peck general outlook

“I feel really good about our offseason this year. Our players and coaches have worked hard and really seem to be buying into our team-first concept.”

Offensive coordinator: Les Hamilton

2020 offense: 27.3 ppg (11th in 6A)

  • 3 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Saia Lomu, RB
  • Weylin Lapuaho, OL
  • George Maile, OL
  • Nate Chamberlain, K/P

Key offensive newcomers

  • Carl Eli, OL
  • Luke Wilson, WR
  • Gage Sundloff, WR
  • Nate Elison, RB

Defensive coordinator: Dave Peck

2020 defense: 20.8 ppg (sixth in 6A)

  • 4 returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Calvin Kengike, DL
  • Maxton Peck, OLB
  • Coda Guevara, ILB
  • Taitwoine Sanders, DB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Diego Grateron, LB
  • Semisi Latu, DB

2. Riverton Silverwolves

  • All-time record: 111-128 (22 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Jody Morgan

Entering his fourth season as head coach at Riverton, with his teams posting an 18-16 record the past three years. He’s a graduate of West Jordan and Dixie State.

Coach Morgan general outlook

“We are going to have a young and exciting group. This group may be the best group we have had at communicating and working together. They really enjoy putting in the work.”

Offensive coordinator: Kwan Ki Au

2020 offense: 22.3 ppg (15th in 6A)

  • 4 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Ryder Lewis, OL
  • Kyller Pickle, OL
  • Josh Jacobson, WR
  • Colby Barton, QB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Sau Tafisi, RB
  • Logan Dunfield, WR
  • Garrick Gibbons, WR
  • Luke Perry, FB

Defensive coordinator: Jordan Gurr

2020 defense: 23.1 ppg (11th in 6A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Kaden Rengers, S
  • Ruben Otuafi, C
  • Lincoln Whiting, C
  • Andrew Schouten, DL
  • Ethan Vernon, DL

Key defensive newcomers

  • Isi Faletau, DL
  • Brooks Hoffine, LB
  • Colin Hauge, S

3. Herriman Mustangs

  • All-time record: 75-53 (11 years)
  • State titles: 1 (2015)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Dustin Pearce

Heads into his ninth season as Herriman’s head coach with a 55-39 record during that span and a state title in 2015. Prior to that he was Hunter’s head coach from 2008 to 2010 where his teams finished 19-15. He’s a graduate of Hunter High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Pearce general outlook

“I honestly like where we’re at. On paper we’re young, with the split (with Mountain Ridge) I’m only going to have 17 seniors which is significantly down. Next year will be back to normal. I’ve got some good underclassmen, my seniors are pretty good. I like the toughness of this team, they’re a gritty bunch of kids and they work really hard. It’s nice to have your quarterback back. We definitely have some holes to fill from last year, but for the most part I like where we’re at.”

Offensive coordinator: Charlie Falatea

2020 offense: 17.3 ppg (19th in 6A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • Pistol offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Jack White, QB
  • Kauasi Hansen, RT
  • Malosi Brown, C
  • Afa Kula, WR/RB
  • Caden Syddall, RB/K

Key offensive newcomers

  • Max Robinson, WR
  • Michael Falatea, WR

Defensive coordinator: Manaia Brown

2020 defense: 24.1 ppg (14th in 6A)

  • 5 returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Jaxon Fullwood, DL
  • Jace Burbidge, CB
  • Matt Lovato, CB
  • Dom Martucci, S
  • Michael Falatea, S

Key defensive newcomers

  • Khalil Laufau, DL
  • Nu’u Tafisi, LB
  • Edward Vanisi, OLB

4. Mountain Ridge Sentinels

  • All-time record: 4-16 (2 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Mike Meifu

Entering his third season as head coach at Mountain Ridge, which he’s guided to a 4-16 record in the two seasons since the school opened. Prior to starting the new program, he was the head coach at his alma mater West Jordan for four season where his teams went 24-18. He’s a graduate of Snow College.

Coach Meifu general outlook

“We are excited to start our third season of Sentinel football! In Year 2, we showed a lot of improvement as our team developed and I am excited to see what they can do moving into Year 3. We will have a very experienced group coming back on both sides of the ball as many of our players started as sophomores and freshmen. It has been great to see the commitment and improvement of our players this offseason. We are also excited to be in a new region with schools in our area and are looking forward to competing against some great programs.”

Offensive coordinator: Jack Pay

2020 offense: 26.2 ppg (13th in 5A)

  • 6 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Ayden Helm, QB
  • Nick Lober, OL
  • Jr Sia, OL
  • Chase Higham, OL
  • Cade Uluave, RB
  • Jordan Day, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Semisi Kinikini, RB
  • Drew Lassater, OL
  • Nate Krebs, OL

Defensive coordinator: Darius Matthews

2020 defense: 29.4 ppg (18th in 5A)

  • 8 returning starters.
  • Multiple defenses.

Returning defensive starters

  • DeMarco Brimmage, S
  • Cade Uluave, MLB
  • Tanner Ramirez, MLB
  • Chase Higham, DL
  • Zander Herrera, CB
  • Tommy Lewis, CB
  • Jr Sia, DL
  • Ben Wempe, OLB

5. West Jordan Jaguars

  • All-time record: 167-232 (44 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Ron Halbert

A longtime assistant coach at several schools in Utah, including six years at West Jordan from 1989 to 1995, he becomes a first-year head coach this season. He’s a graduate of Roy High School and Southern Utah.

Coach Halbert general outlook

“It will be an exciting year for us. We are going to bring back circle B.L.U.E. which was a culture within the football program that was started by head coach Rick Bojak here at West Jordan in 1989-1990. We only have 13 seniors coming out to play this year but, we have a lot of returning starters back from last year. We will be very strong up front on both sides of the ball. We might have to have a few two-way players. They have been preparing themselves all winter and spring though our weightlifitng program and our speed and agility program to be ready for this. Our QB is returning for his third year as a starter. We have our entire front seven back on defense and our front five on offense. This will be my first year as head coach at West Jordan. I was here with Rick Bojak in 1989 through 1995 and I learned a lot from him as well as Les Hamilton, Larry Wilson and Jim Birch while being their defensive coordinator.”

Offensive coordinator: Mike Simpkins

2020 offense: 19.6 ppg (17th in 6A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Boston Farmer, QB
  • Carter Baldwin, WR
  • Octo Heflin, RB
  • Jordan Johns, OL
  • Samiuela Toutai (Miu), OL
  • Caden Neilsen, OL
  • Aleka Leausa, OL
  • Anthony Macedo, OL
  • Allan Moea’i, WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Gabe Remy, RB
  • Ian Matau, WR
  • Kyle Curtis, WR

Defensive coordinator: Ron Halbert Jr.

2020 defense: 29.3 ppg (21st in 6A)

  • 9 returning starters.
  • 3-3 stack and 4-2-5 defenses.

Returning defensive starters

  • Allan Moea’i, LB
  • Pita Tupola, DL
  • Samiuela Toutai (Miu), DL
  • Siope Havea, DL
  • Aleka Leausa, DL
  • Nate Carigan, SS
  • Jaxon Harris, LB
  • Raymond Filo, SS
  • Boston Farmer, FS

Key defensive newcomers

  • Gabe Remy, DB
  • Kyle Curtis, DB

6. Copper Hills Grizzlies

  • All-time record: 55-203 (26 years)

2021 schedule

Head coach: Corey Dodds

Entering his fifth season as head coach with the Grizzlies, tallying a 10-29 record during that stretch. He’s a graduate of Hillcrest High School and the University of Utah.

Offensive coordinator: Kai Kapele

2020 offense: 12.8 ppg (24th in 6A)

  • Spread offense.
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Returning offensive starters

  • Brady Wardle, QB
  • DeAngelo Fagatele, OL
  • Ikani Maka, OL
  • Jacob Miller, WR
  • Zak Rowley, WR
  • Rylan Reed, RB

Defensive coordinator: Corey Dodds

2020 defense: 24.6 ppg (16th in 6A)

  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Ezekiel Foster, LB
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