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'You get to see the teams in West Valley kind of compete': Coaches love new-look Region 2

SALT LAKE CITY — The new Region 2 realignment gets thumbs-up from the region’s head coaches.

This year, West Jordan, West and Taylorsville will join Kearns, Granger, Hunter and Cyprus, creating a region that the coaches are looking forward to playing in.

“I think they got it right. I think it’s the most logical region of all 5 and 6A. I think they paired like schools with like demographics and like student populations, like neighborhoods together. It kind of brings back the old Region 2, from when I played,” Hunter head coach Tarell Richards said. “I think it’s going to be a competitive region and I’m excited to play a lot of familiar teams. A lot of teams with some history to them — no brand-new schools, no schools that don’t really belong geographically in the region.”

The new geography of the region is certainly a big plus for all involved.

“The nice thing is that we’re all pretty close together. Granger’s only a few miles down the road, Taylorsville’s right next door, so you definitely get to see the teams in West Valley kind of compete and see who’s going to win the valley every year. I think that’s what makes it really exciting, we’re playing teams that are all really close together,” West Jordan head coach Carson Mund said.

The new additions — West Jordan, West and Taylorsville — will help breathe new life into the region.

“I think adding some of those teams is going to make it more competitive. Some teams that can play good football, that have been playing good football as of late — like West Jordan, especially. Hearing what West is brewing at their place, sounds like they’re going to be a pretty good team as well. We’re looking forward to that,” Kearns head coach Matt Rickards said.

Another variable in the region is that every head coach, with the exception of Rickards and Richards, is new this season. Mund will take over at West Jordan, Tyler Garcia enters the fold at Cyprus, Olosaa Solovi is the new head coach at West, Pala Vaitu’u is the new head man at Granger and Joe Johnson is at the helm of Taylorsville.

“The big thing with our region is every coach is a new coach, with the exception of myself and Coach Richards at Hunter. It’s going to be learning what type of style of play they have and even with that, Hunter’s a good team and they’ve got a good quarterback and a good coach. For us, we really don’t know our region opponents, to be quite honest. We don’t know what they’re about until we see them on film and so it’s going to be new, for all of us,” Rickards said.

The new teams, plus new coaches, will help make Region 2 competitive, exciting and unpredictable.

“I think that’s probably one of the things that I’m most excited about is getting a new knowledge of teams that I haven’t been familiar with and I think that makes it a lot more fun, especially for the kids, because they are seeing new colors that they’re going up against and new teams, new traditions. It’s an all-around learning experience for everyone in that region,” Mund said.

Deseret News projections for Region 2 football teams in 2019

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Kearns: Kearns is coming off an offseason full of adversity, but is primed to be one of the best teams in Region 2. Kearns returns running back Isaiah Afatasi and quarterback Dakota Lynde. Afatasi scored 14 touchdowns last year, while Lynde had 22. The Cougars return 10 of their offensive starters from last year and eight defensive starters, including defensive end Ami Leha, who was a second-team all-stater last year. 2018 RECORD: 8-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Bingham 46-0 in the 6A quarterfinals.

2. Hunter: Hunter is also ready to have a big year as it returns six starters on offense — quarterback DaiSean Cash, running back Jordan Tupea and wide receiver Wyatt Swanty, along with three offensive linemen, including Sousa Moea’i, a second-team all-stater. Tupea had 462 yards and four touchdowns, while Cash threw for over 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. On defense, the Wolverines return five starters, including Lorenzo Tuaone, who had 10 sacks last season and was named to the 6A second team. 2018 RECORD: 4-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Davis 27-14 in the 6A first round.

3. West Jordan: The Jaguars return four offensive starters and four defensive starters for the 2019 season. Wide receiver David Moctezuma, who had 32 receptions and eight touchdowns last year and was a 6A all-state honorable mention, will help the offense, while safety Isaiah Lapale, a 6A second-team all-stater who had five interceptions last year, will anchor the defense. 2018 RECORD: 5-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Lone Peak 57-28 in the 6A first round

4. Cyprus: Cyprus has a new head coach this year and looks to build on last year’s 7-3 record. The Pirates return five starters on offense, including quarterback Parker Meldrum, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards last year, and first-team all-state offensive lineman Jaxon Garcia. On defense, Cyprus returns three starters, including linebacker Robby Balboa. 2018 RECORD: 7-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Fremont 35-7 in the 6A first round.

5. West: Former East offensive coordinator and girls basketball coach Olosaa Solovi takes over at head coach for West this year and will try to build up a program that went 2-9 last season. The Panthers return five starters on offense, including Bird Butler, who caught 40 passes last year for 589 yards, and five on defense, including Treyson Johnson, who had six picks in 2018. 2018 RECORD: 2-9. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Murray 24-21 in the Region 6 play-in game.

6. Granger: Granger will be facing an uphill battle this season, with just two returning starters on each side of the ball. Michael Magallanes (OL) and Ammon Tavai (RB) return on offense, while Tevita Finau (SS) and Tonga Falemaka (DB) return on defense. Tavai rushed for 833 yards last year and Finau totaled 20 tackles. 2018 RECORD: 3-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Weber 35-14 in the 6A first round.

7. Taylorsville: The Warriors have a new coach in former Utah player Joe Johnson. Johnson will try to transform a team that won just one game last season. On offense, Taylorsville returns running back Steele Hess and Kolbe Hays on defense. 2018 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.