SALT LAKE CITY — Ask anyone closely associated with Region 10 football about the region, the favorites and the title contenders, and you’ll hear the same two schools repeated over and over again: Park City and Stansbury.
For good reason.
Over the last few years, no two teams have been better in region than the Miners and the Stallions, who’ve gone a combined 37-13 overall the last two seasons and an even more impressive 21-3 in region play.
In 2019, it was the Miners who came out on top, with an undefeated 7-0 record. In 2018, both teams finished 4-1 in region. Of late, the Region 10 title has run through either Park City or Stansbury and the competition knows it.
“Park City and Stansbury will always just reload. They have a ton of kids, good kids who are coming up. They have more talent and more than any of the other schools in the region.” — Ogden head coach Erik Thompson
“Park City and Stansbury will always just reload,” Ogden head coach Erik Thompson said. “They have a ton of kids, good kids who are coming up. They have more talent and more than any of the other schools in the region.”
For that reason, the Miners and Stallions were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the Deseret News’ preseason region coaches rankings.
The Miners came in at No. 1, recognition for their successful 2019 campaign and tradition of success. They’ll have to replace more than a few key contributors, though, and have the least amount of returning starters of any team in the region, save for Uintah.
Expectations remain as high as ever, though.
“The expectations are definitely high by ourselves,” Park City coach Josh Montzingo said. “The bar was set by that senior class last year as they climbed through the ranks, and not just them, but the classes before as they all worked hard to put us in a position to be successful. I think this group feels the intensity and the idea that they have a standard they need to live up to.”
Stansbury, meanwhile, is entering year 2 of coach Eric Alder’s tenure, and with a host of returners back on offense, as well as key players back on defense, the idea is to overtake the Miners and return to the top of the region.
“We have some really big holes to fill, but with our quarterback back, along with all five offensive linemen, we feel really good about the upcoming season,” Alder said. “We have some holes to fill but we’ve had a tremendous offseason and a really talented group of football players.”
After Park City and Stansbury there is a group of four teams bunched together, any of whom seemingly could threaten the Miners and Stallions. Tooele is projected to finish atop that group, which includes Cedar Valley, Mountain View and Ogden.
Aiding the Buffaloes cause is a mass of returning experience. Tooele relied heavily on underclassmen in 2019, and they are back to the tune of 17 returning starters. As a result, coach Andru Jones expects to see improvement on both sides of the ball.
“Our defense is experienced and we hope to take a big step forward from last year,” he said. “Guys are more comfortable in year 2 of the system. On offense we return four offensive linemen, so we think we can play faster.”
The Buffaloes do have an ongoing quarterback competition, but the return of multiple running backs and other skill position players only bodes well.
Cedar Valley returns far fewer starters when compared to Tooele — two offense and six on defense — but the Aviators are busting at the seams when it comes to overall numbers in the program and are expected to finish fourth in the region.
Per head coach Weston Zabriskie, Cedar Valley has enough participation to go three-deep at every position, and while competitions exist at quarterback, many of the skill positions and along both the offensive and defensive lines, optimism abounds.
“We are very excited to get going,” Zabriskie said. “We have fantastic participation and a lot of tough, willing candidates to fill positions. The kids and community are excited to continue to build this program.”
Excitement isn’t lacking in Orem, either, where the Mountain View Bruins have steadily improved each and every season over the last five years, under the direction of head coach Tyler Anderson. That improvement has the Bruins believing 2020 can be as much of a success as 2019, when they finished 9-3 overall and third in the region. Mountain View has to replace a few key players who’ve moved on, but with a solid amount of returners on both sides of the ball, the expectation for contention is there.
“We’re confident,” said Anderson. “We’ll need to stay healthy — just like it is every year — but we have some good players returning and think we have a chance to be pretty good. ... It’s taken a while to get this thing going, but we’ve had great support. Credit goes to the kids and all the work they’ve put in. But it’s a new year, and we’ll have to work hard, much like any other year.”
Ogden has been building and building for three years now under Thompson and year 4 might just be the Tigers’ best season to date. After an injury-marred 2019 season, the team is healthy, more experienced than ever and primed to make some real noise.
“We had a lot of players who started as sophomores and now they are seniors,” Thompson said. “We lost 19 kids to injury last year and that forced a lot of sophomores and juniors to play early. Even though it was rough to go through that last year, that is an advantage for them now they have confidence and experience. The enthusiasm is high. We expect to be in every game we play and that is what we want.”
Ben Lomond is entering year 2 under coach Lyndon Johnson, and while the Scots won’t contend for the region title any time soon, things are looking better in Ogden. Per Johnson, the Scots are stronger, faster and all-around just more comfortable playing the type of football that Johnson and his staff are looking for.
“We have a lot of starters back, on both side of the ball,” Johnson said. “We are stronger and we have more kids in the program, more depth on both sides of the ball. We think we can be more competitive.”
Uintah is expected to finish last in region, again, with only three starters back in total. That isn’t anything new, considering the struggles the Utes have had in recent years, but there is optimism that the future may be bright under new head coach Justin DeCol. It might take awhile, but early reviews suggest Uintah is headed in the right direction.
“The program has been down for a while, but (the kids) are excited to be able to do new things and learn new stuff. There is a new optimism,” DeCol said. “They have been very humble and very accepting. Taking over a bad program, and it has probably been the worst program in the state, the only plus side is the kids are very humble and trusting. Everything we’ve tried to implement they have done.”
Deseret News projections for Region 10 football teams in 2020
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)
- Park City: Has work to do on offense, with only three returning starters back from what was the fourth-best offense in 4A in 2019. All three returners are linemen, in Coco Lukrich, Ian Morris and Travis Hobbs. Carson Tabaracci is slated to take over for the Miners at quarterback, while Max Alford and Seth Warner step in at running back, Sam Alford, Trond Grizzell and Kirby Baynes at wide receiver. Another newcomer expected to play a role is offensive linemen Luke McCurdy. Defensively, the Miners are much better off, with five starters back including linebacker Stone Combs, Baynes at safety, cornerback Seth Warner and defensive end Parker Napier. Meier Bedke has also returned, but will move from cornerback to safety. Lukrich is expected to play a key role of the defensive line as well. 2019 RECORD: 13-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Sky View 35-0 in championship.
- Stansbury: Is loaded on offense, coming off a season where the Stallions boasted one of the best attacks in the 4A classification. Eight starters are back, led by quarterback Kru Huxford and wide receivers Cayden Clark and Pae Tia. Stansbury also returns offensive linemen galore, with Daxton Brown, Zack Hamilton, Jacob Rich, Bryce Gordon and Hayden Birch all back in the fold. Defensively, the Stallions are less established, with only four returning starters in Brown (defensive end), Tia (linebacker), Huxford (defensive back) and Clark (defensive back), meaning newcomers like Matthew Ingersoll (defensive lineman) and Nathan Bushnell (safety) must fill larger roles this season. 2019 RECORD: 8-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Dixie 42-14 in quarterfinals.
- Tooele: Relied heavily on underclassmen in 2019 and as a result returns nearly its entire defense, 10 starters in total. The defensive line is particularly stout, with Devin Murphy, Paea Tone, Fine Maumau and Mason Dexter back in the fold. Linebacker should be another strong suit of the Buffaloes, with the return of Ty Sutherland, Adrien Lovato and Malakai Sedillo, while the secondary boasts Kameron Rolle, Drake Gritzmacher and Mateaki Helu. On offense, Tooele returns seven starters, headlined by offensive linemen Gordon Tuiletufuga, Chandler Yeck, Drake Douglas and Lovato. Those returners, along with running backs Anthony Cole and Tabor Shepard, are expected to enable the Buffaloes to emphasize the run game with a new quarterback under center. 2019 RECORD: 4-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Mountain View 35-14 in second round.
- Cedar Valley: Heading into year 2 of the program, the Aviators have the potential to be a contender for the region title, with six returners on defense and another two on offense. Linebacker is arguably the defense’s strongest group, with Bryan Vogl, So’i Saaga and Keagan Sylvester leading the way, while defensive backs Tanner Evans, Grant Salter and Garrett Patton headline the Aviators secondary. A quarterback competition is ongoing on offense, while Connor Petersen (offensive lineman) and AJ Lindsey (running back) return to provide much-needed experience. Overall numbers have been excellent across the program, grades 9-12, and Cedar Valley is capable of going three-deep at almost every position. 2019 RECORD: 5-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Sky View 62-0 in second round.
- Mountain View: Has improved every season since 2016 and hopes to do so again in 2020, on the back of seven returning starters on offense and six on defense. Quarterbacks Kaden Kunz, Jackson McCarty, Micah Madry are battling for the starting job, while running back McKay Strauss, wide receivers David Hair, Jett Anderson, Colton Burr and Matthias Perez and linemen Jacob Brittain and Junior Teaupa provide battle-tested experience. On defense, Mountain View will rely on defensive linemen Chris Esparza and Teaupa, linebackers Liam Hone and Strauss, and defensive backs Aaron Hyatt and Kunz, along with up-and-coming defensive lineman Justin Chicoaski. 2019 RECORD: 9-3. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Sky View 56-13 in quarterfinals.
- Ogden: Expect the Tigers to take a step forward on both sides of the ball. Offensively, quarterback Jaice Holt is back and healthy, after an injury-marred 2019 season. Versatile and productive running back Logan Shobe also returns, along with wide receiver/running back Isaac Wilson, wide receiver Enrique Gomez and a pair of returning starters along the offensive line in Ricardo Altamirano and Marco Galvan. Skill players Ammon Bergeson (tight end), Ozzy Norton (wide receiver) and Jaden Gallegos (wide receiver) should also contribute. Defensively, Ogden will rely on eight returning starters, including defensive ends Jared Blackham and Austin Richards, defensive tackle Luis Renteria, safeties John Henry Lindquist and Wilson, as well as Bergeson (linebacker), Shobe (linebacker) and Norton (cornerback). 2019 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Logan 62-27 in first round.
- Ben Lomond: The Scots return a significant amount of contributors, eight on offense and another seven on defense. Former running back Ryan Alvarez has taken over at quarterback, while running back DeVaughn Sanders, wide receiver Anthony Davis and tight end Dahlen Workman should be key cogs in the Scots attack. Ben Lomond also returns four experienced offensive linemen in Noah Mann, Jordan Perea, Brady Walling and Abraham Martinez. Many of those aforementioned players will lead the way on defense as well, including Alvarez (safety), Sanders (linebacker), Davis (cornerback), Workman (defensive end, Walling (defensive end) and Perea (defensive tackle). Defensive tackle Luarenz Davis is also expected to play a significant role. 2019 RECORD: 1-10. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Bear River 31-0 in first round.
- Uintah: The Utes return only three starters in total, two on offense and another on defense. Center Jackson Liesik and tight end Jayce Anderson will lead the way on the offensive side of the ball, while lineman Jacob Schneider and quarterbacks Josh Spier and Easton Taylor could emerge as key contributors. Defensively, cornerback Rhett Christopherson is headliner, while defensive linemen Jason Walker and Gage Howard have shown potential this summer. 2019 RECORD: 1-10. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Mountain Crest 71-6 in first round.