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High school football: Riverton seeks 3-peat in Region 3, while new-look Bingham figures to be right in the hunt again

SHARE High school football: Riverton seeks 3-peat in Region 3, while new-look Bingham figures to be right in the hunt again
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Riverton’s Isileli Faletau (69) celebrate his interception against Bingham in Riverton on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Heading in the 2022 season, Riverton and Bingham are tied atop the Region 3 preseason coaches rankings, just as they finished tied in the standings a year ago.

Herriman, meanwhile, looks to bounce back after a tough year last year and Mountain Ridge continues to improve off of strong start as a new school.

West Jordan and Copper Hills wrap up what expects to be one of the deepest regions in the state.

The Silverwolves, who are striving for their first outright region title in school history, are coming off a campaign that saw them beat Bingham in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003.

Despite the feat, the Silverwolves let a couple games slide away, including a disappointing loss to West Jordan.

“2021 is 2021, this is 2022,” Riverton head coach Jody Morgan said.

“For the guys that played last year, we saw how fun it was to really be in it. If we can keep in mind what made us successful last year and also learn from it, this team will be committed to the grind.”

The same schedule awaits the team, including four preseason games that feature Syracuse (who enters the season as a top 10 team in 6A), Pleasant Grove, Springville and a trip to Dixie.

“We know that those four teams are going to be better than when we played them last year,” Morgan said. “We have a really good preseason to get us ready going into region play.”

The Silverwolves finished top-10 on both sides of the ball in 6A last year. Offensively, they’ll rely on Jake Meyers, who split time at quarterback last year but will be given full control of the offense going into this season.

“Jake, he has to beat teams with his mind, but he has got whatever the good quarterbacks have,” Morgan said. “He is smart, he can turn his back to the defense, get us in and out of audibles and run the offense.”

Luke Perry, a senior running back, could have a breakout year after sliding under-the-radar, and Logan Dunfield returns at tight end, giving the SIlverwolves a dangerous inside-out offense 

The defense has some holes to fill after losing a lot of depth and talent from a year ago, but all three linebackers return and will look to lead another elite defense. 

Riverton has a tough schedule to wrap up, as they get both Herriman and Mountain Ridge at home before traveling to Bingham on Oct. 14 in what could ultimately decide the region championship. 

With Dave Peck retiring to assume a more backseat role in central Utah though, few teams have as many questions as Bingham. One on hand, the Miners have won a region championship 10 straight seasons, something only Juan Diego (2003-2013) and Millard (1949-1960) have done. On the other hand, the last four have been shared.

Eric Jones takes the reins after spending the last decade in Roy as a defensive coordinator, and he’s looking to cement the team’s spot as a force in Region 3 and 6A as a whole.

“We’re excited about the opportunities in front of us in 2022,” Jones said. “We graduated a lot of very talented players from 2021, but have many capable athletes stepping up to fill those voids.

“The team has done a fantastic job learning new schemes in all three phases of the game, and we had a solid offseason of training. We’re eager to get on the field to compete … kickoff can’t come soon enough.”

Though questions surround the team, it appears that Jones’ Region 3 peers have high expectations for the Miners, as they finished tied for first in the preseason coaches poll. 

The Miners return just three starters on the offensive side of the ball, but they do so in key positions. Most notable is quarterback Dallen Martinez, who returns under center. Martinez finished the season last year with a stat line that included a 63.1% completion rate as well as seven touchdowns to just three interceptions. 

Bingham will certainly have chances to make statements early, as the team boasts a gauntlet preseason schedule. 

The Miners start the season with two tough road games, with trips to Weber — which lost in the quarterfinals last year — and Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nevada).

Then, their final three nonregion games are against Corner Canyon, Timpview and American Fork — matchups they lost by a combined score of 100-32 last season and will look to improve.

Herriman came in at No. 3 in the Region 3 preseason rankings as it looks to rebound from a tough 4-8 season in 2021. The Mustangs return numerous skill position players on offense to raise a unit that finished just 18th in points per game in 6A last year.

After receiving the fifth-seed last year, Mountain Ridge will look to continue to build into its second year in 6A. The Sentinels return five starters on each side of the ball, some of whom will become the first four-year starters in school history.

West Jordan is also a threat from the region, posting a 5-1 nonregion record last year behind new coach Ron Halbert. Now in his second season, Halbert returns nine defensive starters from a unit that allowed only 18 points a game a year ago.

Copper Hills rounds out the region. The Grizzlies have some winnable games early and will try to show just how deep Region 3 has become.


Region 3 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Riverton Silverwolves

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2021 record: 8-4 (tied for first in Region 3 with a 4-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 9 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to American Fork, 20-13, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 119-132 (23 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 2 (2013 co, 2021 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jody Morgan. Entering his fifth season as head coach at Riverton, with his teams recording a 26-20 record the past four years. He’s a graduate of West Jordan and Dixie State.

Coach Jody Morgan’s general outlook: We are really excited for this group. The commitment and discipline they have shown this offseason has been amazing. They enjoy the process of being challenged and rising up to a specific daily standard, and making it fun! Players are doing a great job owning and thriving in their roles, and can’t wait for them to compete this fall.

Offensive coordinator: Josh Phifer.

2021 offense: 29.2 ppg (No. 10 in 6A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Logan Dunfield, Sr., TE.
  • Luke Perry, Sr., RB/Slot.
  • Isileli Faletau, Sr., Tackle.
  • Braxton Doucette, Sr., Guard.
  • Jake Meyers, Sr., QB.
  • Justice Rutledge, Jr., Guard.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Sam Woolley, Sr., Athlete.
  • Jarin Phillips, Sr., WR.
  • Tegan Morgan, Sr, Guard.
  • Owen Barton, Jr., WR.
  • Easton Hicks, Jr., H/WR.
  • Jackson Mackay, Jr., Center.
  • KT Faletau, So., Tackle.

Defensive coordinator: Jordan Gurr.

2021 defense: 16.5 ppg (No. 4 in 6A).

  • Four returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Wyatt Brown, Sr., LB.
  • Jackson Riddle, Sr., LB.
  • Brooks Hofhine, Jr., LB.
  • Isileli Faletau, Sr., DL.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jiarus Parker, Sr., CB.
  • Caidren Shook, Sr., CB.
  • Braxton DuPaix, Jr., S.
  • Jaxson Croff, Jr., S.
  • JoJo Gee, So., CB.
  • Gage Watt, Jr., LB.
  • Luke Hamblin, Jr., DL.
  • Chazz Hinckley, Sr., DL.
  • Trevan McCollough, Sr., DL.
  • Trevor Johnson, Sr., CB.

2. Bingham Miners

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2021 record: 7-5 (tied for first in Region 3 with a 4-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 7 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Lone Peak, 21-14, in the 6A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 533-377-30 (98 years).

State titles: 11 (1939, 1941, 1945, 1946, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017).

Region titles: 29 (1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1960, 1963, 1991 co, 1996 co, 1999 co, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 co, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 co, 2019 co, 2020 co, 2021 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Eric Jones. A defensive coordinator at Roy the past 11 years, Eric Jones is jumping into the head coaching ranks for the first time this season. He’s a graduate of Roy High and Weber State.

Coach Eric Jones’s general outlook: We’re excited about the opportunities in front of us in 2022. We graduated a lot of very talented players from 2021, but have many capable athletes stepping up to fill those voids. The team has done a fantastic job learning new schemes in all three phases of the game. We also had a solid offseason of training so we’re eager to get on the field to compete. The opening kickoff for 2022 can’t come soon enough.

Offensive coordinator: Fred Fernandes.

2021 offense: 30.8 ppg (No. 8 in 6A).

  • Three returning starters.
  • Multiple offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Dallen Martinez, Sr., QB.
  • Havea Fotu, Sr., RB.
  • Sonasi Po’uha, Sr., OL.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Dion Fue, Sr., ATH.
  • Carson Sudbury, Jr., RB.
  • Branden Burgess, Sr., WR.
  • Nate Parker, Sr., WR.
  • Carson Stettler, Jr., WR.
  • Dylan Findlay, Sr., OL.
  • Alama Akoteu, Jr., OL.

Defensive coordinator: Eric Jones.

Bingham defense: 17.9 ppg (No. 6 in 6A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Ben Latai, Sr., DL.
  • Cannon Tennant, Sr., DL.
  • Garrison Stewart, Sr., LB.
  • Cameron Mamalis, Sr., FS.
  • Braxton Gregory, Sr., SS.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Fotu Lavaki, Sr., DL.
  • Kaden McBride, Sr., LB.
  • Cooper Valencia, Sr., LB.
  • Tyson McBride, Jr., LB.
  • Beau Hamilton, Sr., DB.
  • Kyler Marsh, Sr., DB.

3. Mountain Ridge Sentinels

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2021 record: 8-3 (tied for third in Region 3 with a 3-2 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 5 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Syracuse, 35-23, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 12-19 (3 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

2022 schedule

Head coach: Mike Meifu. Entering his fourth season as head coach at Mountain Ridge, which he’s guided to a 12-19 record in the three 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 Mike Meifu’s general outlook: We had a great 2021 season and are looking to build upon things this season. We have some key players coming back that have started all 4-years and have great experience but we will have many new contributors to this years team. We have the right mix of players and it will come down to how well we perform collectively as a team.

Offensive coordinator: Jack Pay.

2021 offense: 30.7 ppg (No. 9 in 6A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Cade Uluave, Sr., RB.
  • Semisi Kinikini, Jr., RB.
  • Jr Sia, Sr., OL.
  • Chase Higham, Sr., OL.
  • Joseph McElprang, Sr, OL.
  • Brody Laga, Jr., K.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Jaren Dixon, Sr., WR.
  • Payton Jones, Sr., WR.
  • Will Adamson, Jr., OL.

Defensive coordinator: Darius Matthews.

2021 defense: 21.6 ppg (No. 12 in 6A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Cade Uluave, Sr., ILB.
  • Chase Leiataua, Sr., DB.
  • Taylor Higham, So., OLB.
  • Chase Higham, Sr., DL.
  • Ben Woodruff, Sr., DL.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Semisi Kinikini, Jr., DB.
  • Domenick Mehl, Sr., ILB.
  • Brayden Pace, Sr., OLB.
  • Peyton Freeman, Sr., DB.
  • Connor Priest, Jr., DB.
  • Will Adamson, Jr., DL

4. Herriman Mustangs

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2021 record: 4-8 (fifth in Region 3 with a 1-4 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 18 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Lone Peak, 37-14, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 79-61 (12 years).

State titles: 1 (2015).

Region titles: 2 (2013 co, 2019 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Dustin Pearce. Heads into his 10th season as Herriman’s head coach with a 59-47 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 Dustin Pearce’s general outlook: Looking forward to an exciting year. We have some good returning varsity players coming back with the addition of good younger players that we high expectations for.

Offensive coordinator: Eric Jensen.

2021 offense: 18.92 ppg (No. 18 in 6A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • Pro/RPO offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Michael Falatea, Sr., WR.
  • Max Robinson, Sr., WR.
  • Suka Ahil, Sr., OL.
  • Kaden Hansen, Jr., WR.
  • Heston Egelund, Jr., OL.
  • Chachi Pan, So., RB/WR.
  • Freddy Ta’ai, Jr.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Braden Young, Sr., RB.
  • Jack Lounsbury, Sr., QB.
  • Freddy Ta’ai, Jr., QB.
  • Brock Hammon, So., OL.

Defensive coordinator: Cody Stromberg.

2021 defense: 24.2 ppg (No. 16 in 6A).

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

Returning defensive starters

  • Carson Grundy, Sr., LB.
  • Ed Vanisi, Sr., LB.
  • Michael Falatea, Sr., DB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jacob Prescott, Jr., DB.
  • Holden McKell, Jr., DB.
  • Aleki Noyes, Sr., DB.
  • Samoa Brown, Jr., DL.
  • Gage Reynolds, Jr., DE/LB.
  • Reggie Smith, Jr., DL/OL.
  • Chandler Smith, Jr., DB.

5. West Jordan Jaguars

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2021 record: 8-3 (tied for third in Region 3 with a 3-2 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 10 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Bingham, 37-7, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 175-235 (45 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 3 (1992, 1994, 1999 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Ron Halbert. Heading into his second season as head coach after posting an 8-3 record a year ago. He’s a longtime assistant coach at several schools in Utah, including six years at West Jordan from 1989 to 1995. He’s a graduate of Roy High School and Southern Utah.

Coach Ron Halbert’s general outlook: We will still be a very young team just like last year. We had some freshmen and sophomores that saw a lot of playing time but they will still be young this coming season. With a new offensive coordinator joining our staff, our offense will look a bit different but will be very explosive. We have a lot of experience coming back on defense. Our strength last year was in the trenches, this year we have Miu Toutai our all state returning center and nose back, and the rest of our trenches could be good but is the unknown. I am excited for this young talented group of kids but, It’s going to be exciting to see if we can bring it all together.

Offensive coordinator: Kevin Alexander.

2021 offense: 25.7 ppg (No. 13 in 6A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Samiuela Toutai, Sr., C.
  • Kyle Curtis, Jr., Slot.
  • Dillon Kuehne, Sr., WR.
  • AJ Tulau, Sr., G.
  • Porter Hall, Sr., TE.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Jarome Myles, So., WR.
  • Ian Matau, So., WR.
  • Dominic Overby, Jr., WR.
  • DaiTrez Johnson, Sr., RB.
  • Jackson Roybal, Jr., QB.
  • Dameon Crosby, So., QB.

Defensive coordinator: Ron Halbert.

2021 defense: 18.4 ppg (No. 7 in 6A).

  • Nine returning starters.
  • 33 Stack defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Jaxson Harris, Jr., MLB.
  • Q. Tulau, So., LB.
  • Gabe Remy, Sr., Corner.
  • Dimitri Lovio, Jr., Corner.
  • Eli Lapale, Sr., SS.
  • Porter Hall, Sr., FS.
  • Ian Matau, So., SS.
  • Samiuela Toutai, Sr., NG.
  • Nathan Carignan, Sr., LB/SS.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Talon Birch, Sr., DE.
  • Fiama Tupola, So., DT.
  • Pita Tupola, Jr., DT.
  • Adam Goetz, DE.
  • AJ Tulau, Sr., DE.
  • DaiTrez Johnson, Sr., DB.
  • Raige Tabball, Sr., LB.
  • Baxon Aalders, Sr., SS.
  • Timmy Thao, So., Corner.
  • Dominic Overby, Jr., FS.

6. Copper Hills Grizzlies

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2021 record: 0-9 (sixth in Region 3 with a 0-5 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 25 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Did not qualify.

All-time record: 55-212 (27 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

2022 schedule

Head coach: Corey Dodds. Heading into his sixth season, Dodds is now the longest-tenured head coach in Copper Hills’ 27 seasons. His teams are 10-38 during that stretch. He’s a graduate of Hillcrest High School and the University of Utah.

2021 offense: 8.1 ppg (No. 25 in 6A).

2021 defense: 41.2 ppg (No. 24 in 6A).

Additional info not provided.