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High school football: Region 11 favorites Ridgeline, Sky View hope experience catapults them deeper in 4A in 2023

SHARE High school football: Region 11 favorites Ridgeline, Sky View hope experience catapults them deeper in 4A in 2023
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After three years of Cache Valley dominating the narrative of 4A football, the northern Utah region took a backseat to southern Utah in 2022.

Four of the top five RPI seeds were from down south, with Desert Hills ultimately beating Crimson Cliffs in the championship.

Fast forward to 2023, and even though the size of the classification has doubled in the latest UHSAA realignment, the feeling among Region 11 coaches is their teams are better equipped to compete near the top of 4A again.

The top four projected teams in the preseason coaches rankings all return over half their starters from a year ago, while the other two — Green Canyon and Logan — have new head coaches which could lead to big improvements as well.

“Our region will be really good this year. Both Ridgeline and Mountain Crest return a bunch of really good players from their teams last year. It will be exciting to see what the new coaches at Green Canyon and Logan bring to their teams. Bear River is always a really tough team. Every week will be a battle,” said Sky View coach Chris Howell.

Even though the Region 11 teams were down a bit overall a year ago, Ridgeline coach Travis Cox said within the region things were as competitive as always, and he expects that trend to continue in 2023.

“Our region is always tough and every game is a battle. We’ve got great coaches and talent in the region and the games are always great,” said Cox.

Ridgeline narrowly edged Sky View in the preseason coaches rankings for the top spot in Region 11. The Riverhawks return seven offensive starters from last year’s semifinal team that lost to Crimson Cliffs, and then four defensively.

A year ago Ridgeline ranked 10th out of 13 teams in 4A in scoring offense at just 19.8 ppg, but with QB Nate Dahle returning along with top receivers Carson Cox and Graham Livingston, there’s plenty of experience to help the 2021 state champs get back to the top.

“I’m excited about our team. We’ve got a good mix of returning starters and kids who’ve had to wait their turn. Offensively, we are a little ahead of where we were a year ago as we have our QB and several WRs and some linemen back,” said Cox.

The Sky View Bobcats — the 2019 and 2020 state champs — were pegged to finish second in Region 11 by the coaches. During those two title-winning seasons they went a combined 26-1, but over the past two years their combined record was 13-12.

Despite a bit of a down season, Sky View still earned a share of the Region 11 title with Ridgeline last year, and Howell is hoping that catapults the program to better success in 2023.

“We return a number of key players on both sides of the ball. We have a really good core of senior linemen who return this year and expect good things out of them. It is always good to have a returning QB, so we are excited about that as well. As long as we stay healthy, we have a chance to be solid this year,” said Howell.

Quarterback Carson Thatcher threw for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, while all-state running back Brevin Egbert returns after rushing for 883 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The offensive line will be led by four returning starters, Connor Dean, Seath Toolson, Landon Elsner and Carter Andrews.

Sky View’s defense ranked second in 4A in 2022, and seven starters return from that group to bolster the other side of the ball.

Mountain Crest was projected third in Region 11 a year after its surprising 4A semifinal run as a No. 6 seed. Last year was the program’s first winning season since 2018, and second-year coach Ryan Visser hopes more of the same is on the horizon this year.

“Good group of returning players that played a vital roll in our run last season. Should have playmakers all over the field. This team has been working really hard to be in the mix with a very deep 4A this year,” said Visser.

Leading the way for Mountain Crest will be second team all-state receiver Will DeKorver and second team all-state defensive tackle Porter Kennington.

The projected bottom three teams in Region 11 all finished below .500 a year ago, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s where they’re projected to finish again.

Bear River second-year coach Trampis Waite is optimistic last year’s lumps leads to improved results with eight returning starters offensively and seven defensively.

“It was crucial for us to get a full offseason together as players and coaching staff. This offseason we got stronger, faster, and came together as a cohesive group. This will help us out tremendously this season as we look to compete in our region and this expanded 4A classification,” said Waite.

Green Canyon is turning its coaching reins over to JT Tauiliili, a Hunter High graduate. He was on staff at 5A state champ Lehi last season, and is a graduate of Utah State. He has previous coaching experience in the region at Sky View.

“There is a lot of optimism around the team with how many starters we return on the O-line and our stars on the defensive side of the ball,” said Tauiliili.

Logan will be led by first-year coach Carson Mund, who previously was the head coach at West Jordan from 2019-2020.

Logan finished fourth in the region a year ago, and Mund is hoping he can help the program break into the top three this year.

“Logan High football has a great tradition of success in Utah football. We are hoping to start building upon that once again with a young football team this year. With a very small senior class we are asking a lot of young players to perform at a high level,” said Mund.


Region 11 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Ridgeline RiverHawks

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 8-5 (tied for first in Region 11 with a 4-1 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 4 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Crimson Cliffs, 27-13, in the 4A semifinals.

All-time record: 53-30 (7 years).

State titles: 1 (2021)

Region titles: 2 (2021, 2022 co).

Head coach: Travis Cox

Entering his fourth season as head coach at Ridgeline High School after an impressive 30-7 record the past three years, including a state title in 2021. He’s a graduate of Mountain Crest and Utah State.

Coach Travis Cox’s general outlook

“I’m excited about our team. We’ve got a good mix of returning starters and kids who’ve had to wait their turn. Offensively, we are a little ahead of where we were a year ago as we have our QB and several WRs and some linemen back. Defensively, we need to replace a few more guys and it’s been great to watch the kids battle for those spots. We’ve had a great offseason and losing in the semis the way we did has stuck with us and motivated our kids.”

Offensive coordinator: Jeremy Livingston

2022 offense: 19.8 ppg (No. 10 in 4A).

  • Seven returning starters.
  • Spread, Multiple offenses.

Returning offensive starters

  • Carson Cox, WR.
  • Graham Livingston, WR.
  • Nate Dahle, QB.
  • Hunter Knighton, WR.
  • Levi Painter, OL.
  • Easton Hammond, OL.
  • JT White, RB.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Krew Jones, Fr., TE.
  • Trey Purser, Sr., TE.
  • Ben Thomas, Sr., OL.
  • Austin Sorenson, Sr., OL.
  • Jagger Francom, Sr., OL.

Defensive coordinator: Jake Pitcher

2022 defense: 16.69 ppg (No. 1 in 4A).

  • Four returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Avyn Gore, Sr., SS.
  • Caysen Dana, Sr., NG.
  • Cooper Clark, So., OLB.
  • Dante Bond, Sr., DE

Key defensive newcomers

  • Krew Jones, Fr., DE.
  • Charlie Booth, Jr., LB.
  • Will Graham, Sr., LB.
  • Hunter Knighton, So., LB.
  • Aidan Anderson, Sr., DB.
  • Trace Dustin, Sr., DB.
  • Bronco Gallaway, Sr., DB.
  • Fred Malouf, Sr., DE.
  • Trey Purser, Sr., DE.

2. Sky View Bobcats

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 6-5 (tied for first in Region 11 with a 4-1 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 7 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Desert Hills, 35-21, in the 4A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 320-267-8 (59 years).

State titles: 2 (2019, 2020).

Region titles: 12 (1969, 1972, 1979 co, 1982, 2006, 2007 co, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022 co).

Head coach: Christopher Howell

In four seasons as Sky View’s head coach, he’s led the team to a 39-11 combined record and state titles in 2019 and 2020. Previously, he was the head coach at Ridgeline from 2016 to 2018 with a 19-15 record. He’s a graduate of Logan High School and Utah State.

Coach Christopher Howell’s general outlook

“We return a number of key players on both sides of the ball. We have a really good core of senior linemen who return this year and expect good things out of them. It is always good to have a returning QB, so we are excited about that as well. As long as we stay healthy, we have a chance to be solid this year.”

Offensive coordinator: Brandt Reese

2022 offense: 21.7 ppg (No. 5 in 4A).

  • Eight returning starters.
  • Multiple offenses.

Returning offensive starters

  • Carson Thatcher, Sr., QB.
  • Brevin Egbert, Sr., RB.
  • Garrett Zahmel, Sr., TE.
  • Bryton Williams, Sr., Slot.
  • Connor Dean, Sr., OT.
  • Seth Toolson, Sr., OT.
  • Landon Elsner, Sr., G.
  • Carter Andrews, Sr., C.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Jace Favero, Sr., WR.
  • Ramsey Vicars, Sr., RB.
  • Easton Ballard, Sr., WR.
  • Preston Smith, Jr., OL.
  • Taylor Lindley, Sr., TE.
  • Carver Ballard, Sr., WR.
  • Liam Guthrie, Jr., WR.

Defensive coordinator: Chris Howell

2022 defense: 17 ppg (No. 2 in 4A).

  • Seven returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Taylor Lindley, Sr., DE.
  • Seth Toolson, Sr., DE.
  • Jace Lillywhite, Jr., LB.
  • Hans Herrmann, Sr., LB.
  • Carver Ballard, Sr., DB.
  • Ramsey Vicars, Sr., DB.
  • Cort Rigby, Jr., DB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Garrett Zahmel, Sr., LB.
  • Easton Ballard, Sr., DB.
  • Chance Wilson, Jr., LB.
  • Jacob McUne, Jr., DL.
  • Sitilli Palmer, So., DL

3. Mountain Crest Mustangs

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 8-5 (third in Region 11 with a 3-2 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 6 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Desert Hills, 44-14, in the 4A semifinals.

All-time record: 260-185 (40 years).

State titles: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005).

Region titles: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010-co, 2012).

Head coach: Ryan Visser

Guided the program to an 8-5 record in his first year as head coach in Utah. He previously was the head coach at Big Piney, Wyoming, the two years prior. He’s a graduate of Preston High School in Idaho and Idaho State.

Coach Ryan Visser’s general outlook

“Good group of returning players that played a vital roll in our run last season. Should have playmakers all over the field. This team has been working really hard to be in the mix with a very deep 4A this year.”

Offensive coordinator: Baker Ward

2022 offense: 20.5 ppg (No. 6 in 4A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Casey Crofts, Sr., QB.
  • Will DeKorver, Sr., WR.
  • Thatcher Phelps, Sr., WR.
  • Exander Miller, Sr., OL.
  • Cole Jones, Sr., RB.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Owen Ryan, Sr., WR.
  • Jakyb Bitton, Sr., WR.
  • Dax Benson, Sr., WR/RB.
  • Karston Buttars, Sr., RB.
  • Porter Kennington, Sr., OL.
  • Harper Walker, Sr., OL.
  • Siaosi Tupuola, SO, OL.
  • Kekoa Tupuola, SO, OL.
  • Seth Burbank, Jr., OL.

Defensive coordinator: Matt Landon

2022 defense: 17.2 ppg (No. 3 in 4A).

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

Returning defensive starters

  • Potter Kennington, Sr., DL.
  • Dax Benson, Sr., LB.
  • Karston Buttars, Sr., LB.
  • Will DeKorver, Sr., SS.
  • Jakyb Bitton, Sr., DB.
  • Thatcher Phelps, Sr., FS.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Porter Johnson, Sr., DB.
  • Mason Geary, Sr., DB.
  • Luke Freeman, Sr., DB.
  • Kaden Hess, Sr., DL.
  • Joseph Pedry, Sr., DL.
  • Santiago Huerta, SO, Edge.
  • Zyan Foulger, Jr., LB.
  • Lincoln Lofthouse, Sr., Edge.

4. Bear River Bears

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 3-8 (tied for fifth in Region 11 with a 1-4 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 11 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Mountain Crest, 35-15, in the 4A first round.

All-time record: 407-481-19 (101 years).

State titles: 3 (2003, 2004, 2006).

Region titles: 13 (1937, 1959, 1983, 1984, 1985 co, 1986 co, 1987, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006).

Head coach: Trampis Waite

A native of Oregon, he’s heading into his second season as head coach after last year’s 3-8 debut season. He’s a graduate of Ontario High School in Oregon and attended Eastern Oregon University.

Coach Trampis Waite’s general outlook

“It was crucial for us to get a full offseason together as players and coaching staff. This offseason we got stronger, faster, and came together as a cohesive group. This will help us out tremendously this season as we look to compete in our region and this expanded 4A classification. I’m excited about the direction we are headed and our senior leadership and talent.”

Offensive coordinator: Trampis Waite.

2022 offense: 19.91 ppg (No. 8 in 4A).

  • Eight returning starters.
  • Spread, zone offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Owen Olsen, Sr., QB.
  • Jace Roberts, Sr., Slot.
  • Tyson Braegger, Sr., TE.
  • Nixon Weston, Sr., OL.
  • Max Anderson, Jr., OL.
  • Gavin Fitzgerald, Sr., OL
  • Talon Marble, Sr., Slot.
  • Tydon Jones, Jr., RB.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Alex Holmes, Jr., OL.
  • Jaden Decoursey, Sr., OL.
  • Kolton Summers, Jr., WR.

Defensive coordinator: Jacob Batke.

2022 defense: 31.9 ppg (No. 11 in 4A).

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

Returning defensive starters

  • Aiden Wilson, Sr., DE.
  • Max Anderson, Jr., DT.
  • Xander Lish, Sr., DT.
  • Tyson Braegger, Sr., MLB.
  • Tucker Cutler, Sr., CB.
  • Talon Marble, Sr., FS.
  • Jace Roberts, Sr., OLB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Brody Miller, Sr., SS/OLB.
  • Kash Avery, Jr., SS.
  • Tydon Jones, Jr., ILB.
  • Zach Cutler, Sr., CB.

5. Green Canyon Wolves

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 1-9 (tied for fifth in Region 11 with a 1-4 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 12 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Snow Canyon, 26-21, in the 4A first round.

All-time record: 27-35 (6 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

Head coach: JT Tauiliili

After spending the past two years as an assistant at Lehi High School, he’s taking over as head coach for Green Canyon. He’s a graduate of Hunter High and Utah State.

Coach JT Tauiliili’s general outlook

“We are excited for the season. There is a lot of optimism around the team with how many starters we return on the O-line and our stars on the defensive side of the ball. We expect to compete with anyone.”

Offensive coordinator: JT Tauiliili

2022 offense: 11.1 ppg (No. 13 in 4A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • Multiple offenses.

Returning offensive starters

  • Ty Jensen, Jr., Center.
  • Joe Rubio, Sr., Tackle.
  • Jacob Bast, Sr., Guard.
  • Abram DeLisle, Sr., Tackle.
  • Dewey Egan, Sr., WR.
  • Tanner Ferrin, Sr., WR.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Hayden Schramm, So., WR.
  • Eric Oates, Sr., RB.
  • Ethan Cutler, Jr., RB.
  • Carter Stoddard, Jr., WR.

Defensive coordinator: Cam Johnson

2022 defense: 21.2 ppg (No. 8 in 4A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • 3-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Tanner Ferrin, Sr., Safety.
  • Dewey Egan, Sr., Corner.
  • Will Wheatley, Sr., LB.
  • Carter Stembridge, Sr., S/OLB.
  • Collin Gibson, Sr., OLB.
  • Calvin Wallis, Sr., OLB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Bryson Pabst, So., DB.

6. Logan Grizzlies

2023 schedule

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2022 record: 5-6 (fourth in Region 11 with a 2-3 record).

2022 RPI ranking: No. 9 in 4A.

2022 postseason: Lost to Cedar, 7-0, in the 4A first round.

All-time record: 544-402-24 (107 years).

State titles: 8 (1978, 1988, 1989, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2015).

Region titles: 27 (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1931, 1932, 1947, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1966 co, 1967 co, 1978, 1979 co, 1985 co, 1986 co, 1988, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2001 co, 2005, 2007, 2010 co, 2011, 2013, 2015).

Head coach: Carson Mund

Taking over as head coach at Logan after previously serving as the head coach at West Jordan in 2019 and 2020, where his teams posted an 8-13 record. He’s a graduate of West Jordan High and Snow College.

Coach Carson Mund’s general outlook

“Logan High football has a great tradition of success in Utah football. We are hoping to start building upon that once again with a young football team this year. With a very small senior class we are asking a lot of young players to perform at a high level. We are looking for players to replace a lot of starters from last year’s team. The young kids have put in a lot of work and I believe have prepared themselves to perform at a high level this year. I am excited to see our team perform this year and gain experience needed that will propel Logan High football for the coming years.”

Offensive coordinator: Carson Mund

2022 offense: 20.4 ppg (No. 7 in 4A).

  • Three returning starters.
  • Multiple offenses.

Returning offensive starters

  • Keaton Pond, Sr., QB.
  • Makiya Denny, Sr., OL.
  • Reed Olsen, Jr., TE.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Skyler Jensen, Jr., WR.
  • Jak Strubhar, Jr., OL.
  • Cooper Redd, Sr., WR.

Defensive coordinator: Aric Craig

2022 defense: 21.0 ppg (No. 7 in 4A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • 3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Brock Brown, Jr., S.
  • Cooper Redd, Sr., S.
  • Alan Lazzari, Sr., CB.
  • Ryan Lazzari, Sr., CB.
  • Connor Peters, Jr., LB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Xavier Aguilar, Sr., DL.
  • Cruz Ramos, So., DL.