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High school football: Confident Farmington the favorite heading into ultracompetitive Region 1 campaign

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Syracuse’s Brevin Hamblin celebrates as he runs off the field after scoring a pick-six in a game against Mountain Ridge in the second round of the state football playoffs in Herriman on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The last time a current Region 1 team won a state championship was Davis in 2004.

But don’t be deceived, the region has been playing solid football year after year, and that’s expected to continue in 2022.

The region has had three different champions the last three years, and according to the coaches, the Farmington Phoenix are expected to continue that trend and win their first ever Region 1 title.

Farmington’s coaches and players share that same expectation.

“The expectation is to win games and come out on top,” Farmington head coach Daniel Coats said. “We don’t want to be cocky, but we do want to be confident. That’s the mindset we’re trying to push.”

The Phoenix return key contributors from last season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback Easton Wight — who’s been playing on Friday nights for Farmington since he was a freshman — is back for one last season, along with his top target Mitch Nielsen, who led the team with 500 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season.

Brandon Arveseth and Cole Kasparian return to lead the offensive line, while talented running back Boston Reinhold returns after rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered last season.

A three-point loss to Weber was the only thing that stood in the way of the Phoenix from clinching the region title last year, but Coats said the team is motivated to prove itself and make its mark in school history. 

“We have that expectation to win and to do well, but I’m constantly reminding them that we haven’t done anything yet,” Coats said.

“We only have one region championship in the school’s history (2019 in Region 5). We’ve come close a couple of times, but we haven’t done it, so we have nothing to be cocky about. They have to be hungry because winning like that hasn’t been done here at Farmington.” 

But like years past, the region is expected to be competitive again, and the Syracuse Titans also want to get their hands on a region title.

The Titans return 13 of 22 starters from last year, where they won two playoff games and made an appearance in the 6A quarterfinals.

On defense, the ball-hawking safety tandem of Brevin Hamblin and Daxton Faddis (who combined for 10 interceptions last year) are back, along with linebacker Miles Draper (second leading tackler last season).

Like Farmington, Syracuse also brings back its quarterback in Jake Hopkins, who tossed over 2,200 yards and 16 touchdowns last year as a sophomore. But what’s most intriguing about this year’s Titans squad is the fact that four starters return on the offensive line (JJ Rusch, Ben Acker-Oatis, Afleck Ladore and Tate Hokum) — something that will help what was a young offense last year take that next step.

Syracuse head coach Mike Knight said the experience the Titans gained after a strong finish last season will be the team’s most useful attribute.

“The reps and that experience is honestly the greatest strength that our team has,” Knight said.

“We have it at all levels of our offense and all levels of our defense. … The kids knew right when the season ended last year, we’d have a pretty good group coming back, so we’re all excited to put what we’ve learned to use.”

Weber, which defeated Syracuse in the quarterfinals, is looking to be the first repeat region champion since it accomplished the feat in 2018. But the Warriors will have their work cut out for them, as they will employ a fairly fresh group of players.

Despite the lack of experience, the region still has respect for the reigning champs, as they came in at third in the preseason projections.

Layton came in fourth in the poll after a third-place finish and a 6-5 season last year. The Lancers return six players from an offensive unit that finished second in the region on a points per game basis, including three starting offensive linemen (Spencer Hill, Kasen Handcock and Issac Vimahi).

Fremont will be yet another young team in the region, with just five combined starters coming back from a squad that suffered a tough, one-point loss to Kearns in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Silverwolves were picked to finish fifth by the coaches.

Davis (sixth) and Clearfield (seventh) round out the results of the poll. The coaches may be selling the Darts a bit short, as the team brings back a significant amount of talent, especially on the defensive front. 

The Falcons come into the season with nothing to lose, as the team’s only claimed three region wins over the last four seasons.

While the region has not turned out many state champions as of late, there’s little argument that the programs each deliver solid performances on Friday nights.

“We don’t get a lot of credit up (north) compared to some of those Utah County and Salt Lake area schools — which are great — but we sometimes get overlooked,” Knight said.

“From top to bottom, we’ve got a lot of great players back and some really great coaches coming into this year. We’re all familiar with each other and the kids play hard — so I expect some really great football up here.”


Region 1 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Farmington Phoenix

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2021 record: 8-4 (second in Region 1 with a 5-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 6 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Skyridge, 52-7, in the 6A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 21-24 (4 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 1 (2019).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Daniel Coats. Has guided Farmington to a 21-24 record in its first four seasons since opening in 2018. He’s a graduate of Northridge High School and BYU. He spent four seasons in the NFL from 2007 to 2010, the bulk of it with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coach Daniel Coats’ general outlook: Excited for another year to compete. We didn’t have the finish that we were looking for last year in region and state. This year the boys are hungry to chase down the top dawgs.

Offensive coordinator: Daniel Coats

2021 offense: 24.8 ppg (No. 14 in 6A)

  • Five returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Easton Wight, Jr., QB
  • Mitch Nielsen, Sr., TE
  • Brandon Arveseth, Sr., OL
  • Boston Reinhold, Sr., RB
  • Cole Kasparian, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Ben Stucki, Sr., WR.
  • Adam Stucki, Sr., WR.
  • Devon Clark, Sr., RB.

Defensive coordinator: Cody Caputo

2021 defense: 23.2 ppg (No. 15 in 6A)

  • Three returning starters
  • 4-2 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Luke Hansen, Sr., LB
  • Kainoa Jones, Sr., DT
  • Jed Judkins, Sr., OLB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Dayton Runyan, Jr., SS
  • Jaxson Eastman, Sr., C

2. Syracuse Titans

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2021 record: 8-5 (tied for fourth in Region 1 with a 2-4 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 12 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Weber, 14-7, in the 6A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 100-65 (15 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 3 (2012, 2016 co, 2019).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Mike Knight. Entering his sixth season as head coach at Syracuse, posting an 29-26 record over that span. He’s a graduate of Murray High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Mike Knight’s general outlook: I’m excited about the group that is coming back from a good year last year. They have worked hard this offseason and we are looking forward to the challenge this year.

Offensive coordinator: Braden Hamblin

2021 offense: 22.2 ppg (No. 15 in 6A)

  • Seven returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Jake Hopkins, Jr., QB
  • Noah Yeates, Sr., WR
  • Dylan Croxford, Sr., WR
  • JJ Rusch, Sr., OL
  • Ben Acker-Oatis, Jr., OL
  • Afleck Ladore, Sr., OL
  • Tate Hokum, Sr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Mitch Tulane

Syracuse defense: 15.2 ppg (No. 2 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • 4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Miles Draper, Sr., LB
  • Brevin Hamblin, Sr., S
  • Daxton Faddis, Sr., S
  • Sam Pula, Sr., DT
  • Tyson Sweeten, Sr., DT
  • Jake Metcalfe, Jr

3. Weber Warriors

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2021 record: 10-3 (first in Region 1 with a 6-0 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 4 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Corner Canyon, 48-13, in the 6A semifinals.

All-time record: 334-500-22 (95 years).

State titles: 2 (1985, 1999).

Region titles: 9 (1948, 1952, 1964, 1985 co, 1996 co, 2017, 2018, 2020 co, 2021).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jayson Anderson. Entering his fourth season as head coach at Weber after leading the school to a 23-9 record the past two years and region titles in 2020 and 2021. Previously he was head coach at Logan from 2016-2017 with a 3-17 record. He’s a graduate of Box Elder High School and Utah State.

Coach Jayson Anderson’s general outlook: This is a year we look where we have a lot of turnover and a group of guys with limited experience on Friday night. We have a group of guys who are hungry and ready to take on bigger roles. We have returners in some key spots on both sides of the ball who will be asked to lead us and set the tone for the 2022 season.

Offensive coordinator: Jayson Anderson

2021 offense: 34.3 ppg (No. 3 in 6A)

  • Three returning starters
  • Multiple offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Aidan Carter, Sr., QB
  • Todd Johnson, Sr., OL
  • Porter Hayes, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Salesi Moa, Fr., WR
  • Corbin Alvord, Sr., WR
  • Tyson Higgs, So., WR
  • Nakosi Swain, Jr., RB
  • Tavin Nye, Sr., RB
  • Austin Gussie, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Billy Pluim

2021 defense: 27.5 ppg (No. 18 in 6A)

  • Four returning starters
  • 3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Teegan Humphreys, Sr., CB
  • Konrad Kerr, Sr., LB
  • Crash Coggins, Sr., LB
  • Carter Roberts, Sr., LB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jayvin Cortes, Sr., DL
  • Tyler Payne, So., LB
  • Dawson Fenn, Sr., DL
  • Tayven Norton, Sr., D.
  • Tyson Higgs, So., DB
  • Tavin Nye, Sr., DB

4. Layton Lancers

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2021 record: 6-5 (tied for third in Region 1 with a 3-3 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 13 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Weber, 35-21, in the 6A second round.

All-time record: 248-304-1 (54 years).

State titles: 1 (1978).

Region titles: 10 (1969 co, 1971, 1974 co, 1977 co, 1978 co, 1979 co, 1987, 1993 co, 2007, 2008).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Fo Katoa. Entering his third season as head coach having posted a 8-12 record the past two years. He previously was the head coach at Layton Christian in 2019 where his team also went 2-7. He’s a graduate of Trinity High School in Texas and BYU.

Coach Fo Katoa’s general outlook: We have lots of positions to fill. We have young men who’ are excited to earn their spot and fight for those positions. We’ll have a team that will continue working hard through the season and play their hearts out for each other. The team had a long offseason to help each other build our team. They learned our system and build trust in each other through the process.

Overall, we have great young men on and off the field. They love playing football, and playing for each other. They are having lots of fun and I hope that continues into the season.

Offensive coordinator: Brian Berrong

2021 offense: 27.2 ppg (No. 12 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Spencer Hill, Sr., OT/DT
  • Kasen Handcock, Sr., OG/NG
  • Issac Vimahi, Jr., OL/DL
  • Brigham Lawson, Sr., WR/RB/C
  • Trey Reid, Sr., WR/S
  • Tyler Wensel, Sr., WR/QB

Defensive coordinator: Dell Stilson

2021 defense: 19.1 ppg (No. 9 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • 3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Damon Elmore, Sr., LB/DE/RB
  • Xander Barnes, Sr., LB/Nickel
  • Elias Parkinson, Sr., C/WR
  • Teague Farr, Sr., C
  • Jackson Henderson, Sr., S/SS
  • Takoa Byrd, Jr., DL/LB

5. Fremont Silverwolves

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2021 record: 4-7 (tied for fourth in Region 1 with a 2-4 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 17 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Kearns, 31-30, in the 6A first round.

All-time record: 182-123 (28 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: 7 (2002 co, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Clay Bayard. After assistant coaching stints at Logan, Davis and Fremont, Clay Bayard is ready for his first crack at being a head coach. He’s a graduate of Fremont and Utah State.

Coach Clay Bayard’s general outlook: This will be an overall young team but with great senior leadership. We will be better up front on both sides of the ball and we have great skill players on both sides of the ball.

Offensive coordinator: Clay Bayard

2021 offense: 21.8 ppg (No. 16 in 6A)

  • Two returning starters
  • Multiple offense

Returning offensive starters

Will Bailey, Sr., C

Dave Calvert, Sr., WR

Key offensive newcomers

  • Bodee Goins, Sr., QB
  • Brigg Grange, Jr., RB
  • Luke Shulz, Jr., WR
  • Mason Palmer, Jr., TE
  • Carson Richards, Jr., G
  • Ashton Ferguson, Sr., OT

Defensive coordinator: Lindsay Hassell

2021 defense: 22.5 ppg (No. 14 in 6A)

  • Three returning starters
  • Multiple defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Ridge Whitney, Sr., CB
  • Christian Blanch, Sr., LB
  • Brant Koford, So., LB

Key defensive newcomers

  • Braxton Young, Jr., S
  • Zach Masters, So., S
  • Tucker Keller, Jr., CB
  • Kord Holmes, Jr., LB
  • Jake Wilkinson, Sr., DT

6. Davis Darts

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2021 record: 5-6 (tied for third in Region 1 with a 3-3 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 15 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Herriman, 35-21, in the 6A first round.

All-time record: 607-389-29 (106 years).

State titles: 7 (1937, 1943, 1949, 1965, 1974, 1976, 2004).

Region titles: 31 (1929, 1937, 1942, 1943, 1949, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969 co, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979 co, 1980, 1981 co, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988 co, 1989 co, 1990 co, 1991 co, 1994 co, 2004, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Scott Peery. Posted a 5-6 record in his first season as Davis’ coach in 2021. He’s a graduate of Payson High School and Weber State.

Coach Scott Peery’s general outlook: To sum up the team’s personality in two words it would be a hungry brotherhood. This group cant get enough reps and always want more time in the weight room or on the field. Every offseason it is fun as a coach to sit back and see what kind of group we have coming up. Time and time again they have displayed a close knit brotherhood. I cant wait to see it all come together this fall. Offensively, we have quite a bit of returners at the skilled position who are pretty darn dynamic and I am excited to see what they can do. Defensively, we have a new defensive coordinator, Cameron Pribble and I love his natural aggressive play-calling. We have a few returners on the defensive side of the ball. Many of our guys will be underclassmen on the defensive side but that won’t slow them down as they’re game ready.

Offensive coordinator: Scott Peery

2021 offense: 18.9 ppg (No. 19 in 6A)

  • Six returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters

  • Jackson Stevens, Jr., QB
  • Easton Baggett, Sr., WR
  • Hunter Anderson, Sr., WR
  • Kaden Eggett, Sr., WR
  • Diego Uboldi, Sr., OL
  • Wyatt Rash, Jr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

  • Tyson Elkins, Sr., WR
  • Kash Gates, Jr., WR
  • Josh Barker, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Cameron Pribble

2021 defense: 25.6 ppg (No. 17 in 6A)

  • Four returning starters
  • 4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Palmer Gardiner SR. DT
  • Jordan Taula JR. DE
  • George Drakos JR. CB
  • Cam Wilson SR. DE

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jacob Faerber, Jr., MLB
  • Crew Cunningham, Jr., OLB
  • Carter Dorius, Jr., SS
  • Jack Byers, Sr., FS

7. Clearfield Falcons

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2021 record: 1-10 (seventh in Region 1 with a 0-6 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 23 in 6A.

2021 postseason: Lost to West Jordan, 27-0, in the 6A first round.

All-time record: 254-358-4 (61 years).

State titles: 1 (1992).

Region titles: 8 (1975 co, 1976, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1994, 1996 co, 1998 co, 2002 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Carl Harry

2021 offense: 12.73 ppg (No. 23 in 6A)

2021 defense: 34.91 ppg (No. 22 in 6A)