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New Region 14 full of rural schools, set up for competitive play

SALT LAKE CITY — This offseason, the UHSAA shook up region play, announcing realignment to regions — in both football and all other activities.

As part of the new realignment, the UHSAA created a new region — Region 14.

The region was created by combining some teams from the former 3A South region (Juab, Manti, North Sanpete), teams from the former 2A North region (Delta, ALA) and a team from the former 3A North region (Union).

The result is a region full of rural teams — one that Union head coach Matt Labrum thinks will be good for competition.

“I think our region is set up pretty good on rural schools that are a ways off I-15. I like the matchups that way. We’re similar type schools, so I think it will be a very competitive region. It is extra travel for us, but we’ll travel to have a competitive fairness to it,” Labrum said.

While Labrum is familiar with the majority of the teams in the new region, he is yet to play ALA or Delta.

“North Sanpete finished second last year, so they should be right up there. Juab is always a contender. I know Manti was quite young last year, so put them in there. I don’t know much about ALA or Delta. Since I’ve been here, I’ve never played either one of them, so I don’t know a whole lot about them, but I know Delta has great tradition, so I think they’ll be someone to reckon with also,” Labrum said.

Union is projected to finish second in the region in both the coaches vote and in the Deseret News projections. They return just three full-time starters on offense and two full-time starters on defense and will have to get key contributions from players that didn’t start last year. Lincoln Labrum will return as starter at quarterback.

Juab enters the year as the favorite to win the new region, both in the coaches vote and in the Deseret News projections.

“I think it will be really competitive. We’ve got a lot of really good teams in it. We’ll know more once we get going, but you’ve got some good programs that are good year in and year out, so we’re looking forward to another exciting year in region play,” Juab head coach Mike Bowring said.

Juab has an experienced team, returning seven starters on offense — including receiver Dallan West — and seven starters on defense, including safety Cade Bowring and Blake Mangelson.

Bowring thinks that with the new UHSAA RPI rule, the reward of winning a region championship is diminished.

“Our outlook on region is, maybe like most, with the RPI, I think it kind of diminishes a little bit a region championship because you basically are in an RPI so when you get rated every single week. We’re still going to honor those region championships. I think each region is still going to honor those, but at the end of the day, you’re playing for much more than a region championship or to be just the best team in your region, so that’s kind of how we look at it,” Bowring said.

North Sanpete is another experienced team, returning eight starters on offense —including fullback Connor Jorgensen — and five starters on defense, including safety Payton Clawson. The Hawks are projected to finish third in the region by the coaches. Manti is projected to finish fourth in the region, Delta is predicted to finish fifth in the region and American Leadership Academy is projected by the coaches to finish sixth in Region 14.

“I think it’s going to be a battle. I think there’s a lot of good teams,” Labrum said.

Region 14 projections

Deseret News projections for Region 14 football teams in 2019. Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes.

1. Juab: The Wasps finished 2018 with a 6-5 record while playing in the 3A South and lost in the 3A quarterfinals. With Juab now away from Juan Diego and Summit Academy, they could be set up for success in Region 14. The Wasps return seven starters on offense — including receiver Dallan West — and seven starters on defense, including safety Cade Bowring and Blake Mangelson.

2. Union: The Cougars finished with a 5-6 record in the 3A North last season. They should be revitalized by a change to Region 14. Union returns just three full-time starters on offense and two full-time starters on defense and will have to get key contributions from players that didn’t start last year. Lincoln Labrum will lead the offense and Colton Harding will be the leader of the defense.

3. North Sanpete: North Sanpete, like Juab, will benefit from changing regions. The Hawks had a great playoff run last season, but ran into former region foe Summit Academy in the championship game. North Sanpete will look to build off last season’s success as it returns eight starters on offense — including fullback Connor Jorgensen — and five starters on defense, including safety Payton Clawson.

4. Manti: The Templars finished last season with an overall record of 4-6 while playing in the 3A South and lost to Union in the first round of the playoffs. Manti returns seven starters on offense, including quarterback Jax Parry, and six players on defense, including leading tackler Mitchell Newman, and should be an experienced team.

5. Delta: Delta went 4-6 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs, finishing with a 4-1 record in 2A North. The Rabbits competed last year in the 2A North region and lost in the 2A quarterfinals. Delta returns eight starters on offense, including running back Jayden Petersen and eight starters on defense, including its leading tackler from last year, linebacker Jake Jackson.

6. American Leadership Academy: The Eagles finished last season with a 4-6 overall record while competing in 2A North, losing in the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles return an experienced team this year, with seven offensive returning starters, including quarterback Jacob Negus, and eight defensive returning starters, including linebacker Alec Shockley.