Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, Region 4 football is here.

In this corner, entering the season as the defending 6A state champ, Lone Peak is loaded with athleticism but not lacking in question marks with one returning starter defensively. In another corner, a program hungry for the mountaintop after its four-peat hopes were dashed a year ago, Corner Canyon faces its own question marks with just one returning starter offensively. In another corner, by far the best team on paper with 10 defensive starters returning from last year’s dominant group, Skyridge is extremely eager to take the next step as a program. And in the final corner, a team hungry to prove it’s not the Region 4 afterthought, American Fork hopes it has enough experience offensively to compete with the big three and not get swept for a third straight season.

A year ago, the big three in Region 4 each suffered a region loss, but it was Lone Peak that flexed its muscles in the playoffs with convincing wins over Skyridge in the semifinals and then Corner Canyon in the championship.

For Skyridge, that loss was particularly tough to swallow after handing Lone Peak its only region loss five weeks earlier.

“Regardless of who we lose to in the playoffs there’s going to be an ultra sour taste, but when it’s a team you know you can beat and you have beaten in the last few weeks, it amplifies that a little bit,” said Skyridge coach Jon Lehman. “But we know when good teams play good teams there are a variable of outcomes and it’s going to be hard, so our guys know the challenge is tough and they have to bring it.”

With 10 starters back defensively and then six more offensively, including QB McCae Hillstead who’s entering his third year as a starter, there’s been a confident swagger throughout Skyridge camp this summer.

“Every team is different regardless of if you have returning players coming back, and every team develops its own identity, but when you have returning players they know where they fit within all of that and they take charge a lot faster,” said Lehman. “Our guys are confident and they believe in each other and they have high expectations for themselves and they demand that from each other every day.”

It’s easy to understand the confidence as Skyridge has three players ranked in the top 10 2023 recruits in Utah. In addition to Hillstead at QB, the list also features cornerback Smith Snowden and linebacker Tausili Akana.

Corner Canyon was the only team last season that found sustained success against Skyridge last season, but coach Eric Kjar acknowledges that Skyridge’s experience gives it a leg up heading into the season.

“Just with what they have back and where they’ve been I think they’re the team for sure,” said Kjar.

For Corner Canyon, there’s a slightly different vibe around the program than in recent years. The three-time state champs had their 48-game winning streak snapped by Lone Peak in a 41-16 rout in Week 9, and then six weeks later they lost to Lone Peak again, 49-42, in the championship.

Those were the only two losses of the season, but helped reset the deck for the Chargers heading into the 2022 season.

“The kids have worked really hard and they’ve had good intent of trying to get a lot better and really focusing and bringing a lot of intensity to their offseason stuff,” said Kjar.

Corner Canyon’s only returning offensive starter is sophomore offensive lineman Zion Finau, who started about half the season last year because of injury. After that, it’s a whole bunch of new faces who will lead Corner Canyon’s traditionally potent offense.

The faces might be new, but the name certainly isn’t for one of them. Junior Isaac Wilson, the younger brother of New York Jets QB Zach Wilson, takes over QB this year and expectations are sky high that he continues the tradition of Kjar QBs who put up ridiculous offensive numbers.

Kjar isn’t concerned at all that the weight of expectations that comes with his family tree will weigh on Wilson.

“He’s already had to deal with it so much, I think he’s past that,” said Kjar.

Defensively, Corner Canyon returns five starters and it’s a group that certainly has something to prove after it absolutely couldn’t stop Lone Peak in the championship game a year ago. It’s a hard pill to swallow to score 42 points in a loss.

“There’s been a lot of focus on that in the offseason, just trying to be more physical and even the way we’re practicing now we’re trying to prepare better for it,” said Kjar.

Lone Peak’s physicality in the trenches separated itself from the rest of 6A, and specifically Corner Canyon and Skyridge, a year ago. It’s back to square one though for the Knights.

Defensive tackle Nathan Darrington is the only returning starter from last year’s squad that only allowed 18.8 ppg. On the offensive side of the ball there are four starters returning, with Cooper Mumford and Spencer Bradshaw bringing experience back to the line.

With a new quarterback and then new running backs for the Knights, there will be an inevitable learning curve in many key areas this season, and how quickly those players adjust will determine if this team is capable of a 6A repeat.

There’s been two tiers in Region 4 the past two years, and American Fork would love to break into that upper tier this season. The Cavemen are 0-6 against Region 4’s big three the past two season, but with six starters back on offensive, and four defensively — including highly-recruited D-lineman Hunter Clegg — there’s reason for optimism.

“Both sides of the ball have a few returners who are hungry for another season and our young guys have worked really hard to put themselves in a position to be successful at the Varsity level,” said coach Aaron Behm.

Westlake graduated 31 seniors from last season’s team and will inevitably face some early challenges in the season. Pleasant Grove will be young again under second-year coach Taylor Walkenhorst, but he’s hopeful that the players who were forced into starting roles as sophomores will be more physically ready for the grind of varsity football.

Region 4 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1 (tie). Corner Canyon Chargers

2021 record: 12-2 (tied for first in Region 4 with a 4-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 1 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Lone Peak, 49-42, in the 6A championship.

All-time record: 91-22 (9 years).

State titles: 3 (2018, 2019, 2020).

Region titles: 7 (2013 co, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Eric Kjar. In terms of winning percentage, he’s established himself as one of the best in state history with a 132-32 combined record in 13 years at Jordan and Corner Canyon. He’s entering his sixth year with the Chargers, where his teams are 63-3 with state titles in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was Jordan’s head coach from 2009 to 2016, posting a 69-29 record and winning a state title in 2012. He’s a graduate of Kemmerer High School in Wyoming and Wayne State in Nebraska.

Coach Eric Kjar’s general outlook: We will be very young on offense this year. We will need to replace pretty much our whole offense from last year. We have some very good returners on defense that will provide a good base for our football team. The players have worked very hard in the offseason and are excited to get going.

Offensive coordinator: Eric Kjar

2021 offense: 48 ppg (No. 1 in 6A)

  • One returning starter
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Zion Finau, So., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Isaac Wilson, QB, Jr
  • Quinn Hale, WR, Sr
  • Tate Kjar, Wr, Jr
  • Bridger Davies, WR, Sr
  • Drew Patterson, RB, Sr
  • Kai Sevy, OL, Sr
  • Noah Kim, OL, Jr
  • Matt Snarr, OL, Sr

Defensive coordinator: Cody Gardner

2021 defense: 17.6 ppg (No. 5 in 6A)

  • Five returning starters
  • Multiple defenses

Returning defensive starters

  • Owen Borg, Sr., LB
  • Aiden Mcdonald, Sr., DB
  • Tank Mitchell, Sr., DE
  • Charlie Ebeling, FS
  • Kash Richards, DE

Key defensive newcomers

  • Dave Brinton, Sr., LB
  • Drew Patterson, Sr., LB
  • Kolbyn Jackson, Sr., DB
  • Ruben Otuafi, Sr., DB

1 (tie). Skyridge Falcons

2021 record: 11-2 (tied for first in Region 4 with a 4-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 3 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Lone Peak, 20-0, in the 6A semifinals.

All-time record: 57-17 (6 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 2 (2018, 2021 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jon Lehman. Entering his seventh season as head coach at Skyridge, the only coach in school history. His teams have posted a 57-17 record the past six years and state runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018. He’s a graduate of Milford High School in Ohio and Trinity College in Connecticut.

Coach Jon Lehman’s general outlook: We are excited for the upcoming season. I have been really happy with the work our guys have put in during the offseason and throughout this summer. We have a good core of returning players and a good group of leaders. Our goal is to compete as a team and to get better each day. We are excited to be a part of another competitive region with some of the best teams in the state.

Offensive coordinator: Justin Hemm

2021 offense: 32.6 ppg (No. 4 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Mccae Hillstead, Sr., QB
  • Tate Walker, Sr., RB
  • Josh Davis, Sr., TE
  • La’a Kalama, Jr., WR
  • Adam Stepens, Jr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Jackson Andrus, Sr., WR
  • Kyle Valdez, Sr., WR
  • Jack Burke, Jr., WR
  • Cannon Jensen, Sr., WR
  • Caleb Yentes, Sr., TE
  • Trevan McClellan, Jr., WR
  • Trent Call, Jr., WR/QB
  • Ben Howard, So., OL
  • Willy Launoa, Sr., OL
  • Garrett King, Sr., OL
  • Ami Fifita, Jr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Jon Lehman

Skyridge defense: 9.7 ppg (No. 1 in 6A)

  • Ten returning starters
  • 3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Tausili Akana, Sr., edge
  • Ian Mariner, Jr., DT
  • Deshawn Toilolo, So., DE
  • Collin Sheffield, Sr., OLB
  • Sione Westover, Sr., OLB
  • Elijah Teriipaia, Sr., ILB
  • Jace Doman, Sr., CB
  • Smith Snowden, Sr., CB
  • Saxon Higbee, Sr., S
  • Dalton Young, Sr., S

Key defensive newcomers

  • Brady Beers, Sr., DB
  • Mark Baird, Jr., DB
  • Mason Anderson, Sr., LB
  • Jackson Fenton, Jr., LB
  • Darius Afalava, So., DL
  • Chance Peterson, Jr., DL

3. Lone Peak Knights

2022 schedule

2021 record: 10-2 (tied for first in Region 4 with a 4-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 2 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Beat Corner Canyon, 49-42, in the 6A championship.

All-time record: 217-88 (25 years).

State titles: 3 (2011, 2018, 2021).

Region titles: 15 (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 co, 2005, 2009-co, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 co, 2015, 2016, 2018 co, 2021 co).

Head coach: Bart Brockbank. Entering his sixth season as head coach at Lone Peak, where he’s compiled a 45-20 record during that stretch and state titles in 2018 and 2021. He’s a graduate of Lehi High School and BYU.

Coach Bart Brockbank’s general outlook: We have some returning starters on offense but need to replace a lot of key players on defense.

Offensive coordinator: Gary Trowbridge

2021 offense: 31.7 ppg (No. 6 in 6A)

  • Four returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Cole Christensen, Sr., WR
  • Crew McChesney, Sr., WR
  • Max Bateman, Sr., TE
  • Cooper Mumford, Sr., OL
  • Spencer Bradshaw, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Trey Robinson, Jr., WR
  • Shaun Blanton, Jr., WR
  • Brooks Wilde, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Ryan Denney

2021 defense: 18.8 ppg (No. 8 in 6A)

  • One returning starters
  • 4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Nathan Darrington, Sr., DT

Key defensive newcomers

  • Matthias Nawahine, Jr., DB
  • CJ Ruble, Jr., DB
  • Alex Passey, Sr., DB
  • Tyler Denney, Sr., LB
  • Kyle West, Sr., DE

4. American Fork Cavemen

2021 record: 7-4 (fourth in Region 4 with a 2-3 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 8 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Corner Canyon, 45-28, in the 6A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 514-337-21 (96 years).

State titles: 2 (1961, 1962).

Region titles: 17 (1937, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1953, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977 co, 1980, 1984, 1995 co, 2007 co, 2014, 2018 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Aaron Behm. Entering his 13th season as American Fork’s head coach, where he’s guided the team to an 83-60 record. He led the Cavemen to runner-up appearances in 2014, 2018 and 2019. He’s a graduate of Grant Community High School and Trinity International University, both in Illinois.

Coach Aaron Behm’s general outlook: We are excited to hit the field this fall. We have seen a lot of offseason growth from this group and are excited to see if on the field this fall. Both sides of the ball have a few returners who are hungry for another season and our young guys have worked really hard to put themselves in a position to be successful at the varsity level.

Offensive coordinator: Micah Hunsaker

2021 offense: 36.4 ppg (No. 2 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Dax Watts
  • Trey Roberts
  • Peyton Rees
  • Jarvis Griffiths
  • Jake Greenwood
  • Hunter Clegg

Key offensive newcomers

  • Josh Andrus, Jr., TE
  • Jace Hull, Sr., Slot
  • Luke Vickers, Jr.. Guard
  • Andrew Brady, Jr., Tackle
  • Maximus Edwards, Slot

Defensive coordinator: Nate Cummings

2021 defense: 21.8 ppg (No. 13 in 6A)

  • Four returning starters
  • 4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Hunter Clegg, Sr., DL
  • Siosifa Lavulavu, Sr., DL
  • Evan Agor, Sr., DL
  • Davis Andrews, Jr., DL

Key defensive newcomers

  • Andrew Dickey, Jr., DL
  • Tyson Eggett, Jr., LB
  • Wesley Viehweg, Sr., DB
  • Aidan Cage, Sr., DB

5. Westlake Thunder

2021 record: 4-8 (fifth in Region 4 with a 1-4 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 19 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Skyridge, 58-14, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 49-86 (13 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

2022 schedule

Head coach: Louis Wong. Entering his seventh season as head coach at Westlake, posting a 18-48 record over the past five years. Previously he was the head coach at Timpview from 2005 to 2011, where his teams went 77-10 with state titles in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. He also coached at Mountain View from 2014 to 2015 with a 3-17 record. He’s a graduate of Castle High School in Hawaii and BYU.

Coach Louis Wong’s general outlook: We knew going into this season we were going to face early challenges when it came to the youth in us as well as playing time experience. We had 31 seniors last year. It presents its challenges but at the same time we are so excited to see this young core of kids perform against Utah’s toughest talent in the state when it comes to our region.

Offensive coordinator: Chris Bahr

2021 offense: 12.33 ppg (No. 24 in 6A)

  • Seven returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Carter Quiring
  • Ezra Heiner
  • Jace Mackey
  • Ryken Featherstone
  • Aidan Hammond

Key offensive newcomers

  • Drake Youngberg
  • Landon Rasmussen
  • Mason Jenkins
  • Derek Anderson

Defensive coordinator: Viliami Halasim

2021 defense: 29.8 ppg (No. 20 in 6A)

  • Two returning starters
  • 4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Manasseh Te’o
  • Colson Quiring

Key defensive newcomers

  • Dylan Hansen
  • Nusi Taumoepeau
  • Jaxson Pilgrom
  • Maverick McManus

6. Pleasant Grove Vikings

2021 record: 1-10 (sixth in Region 4 with a 0-5 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 21 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Syracuse, 33-7, in the 6A first round.

All-time record: 411-408-11 (81 years).

State titles: 3 (1955, 1956, 1993).

Region titles: 14 (1955, 1956, 1957, 1973 co, 1982 co, 1986 co, 1988 co, 1993 co, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2007 co, 2008, 2013 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Taylor Walkenhorst. Entering his second season as head coach at Pleasant Grove after last year’s 1-10 season.

Coach Taylor Walkenhorst’s general outlook: During the 2021 season we started a lot of sophomores. These sophomores will be returning and will be juniors. This year the players will have varsity experience. We look to be more competitive in our region with the returners that we have.

Offensive coordinators: Allen Purvis and Taylor Walkenhorst

2021 offense: 16.0 ppg (No. 20 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • West Coast/RPO offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Bryce Paulson, Sr. LT
  • Ty Lilywhite, Sr., C
  • Jaeden Wright, Sr., RB
  • Shawn Cottle, Jr., WR
  • Kael McCoy, Jr., Slot
  • Bronco Winterton, Jr., RB

Key offensive newcomers

  • Wade Christianson, So., RB
  • Lucas Jackson, Jr., RT
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Defensive coordinators: Steve Brady and Taylor Walkenhorst

2021 defense: 41.45 ppg (No. 25 in 6A)

  • Eight returning starters
  • 3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Thatcher Coon, Jr., End
  • Levi Bezant, Jr., Nose
  • Trevyn Gates, Jr., LB
  • Jaeden Wrigt, Sr., LB
  • Gabe McCoy, Jr., CB
  • Makai Peterson, Jr., CB
  • Bronco Winterton, Jr., S
  • Shawn Cottle, Jr., S

Key defensive newcomers

  • Lucas Jackson, Jr., DE
  • Connor Day, Sr., Rover
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