By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography) & Kurt Johnson
As we revisit the top stories of the 2014-2015 school year over the next couple of weeks at PrepsUtah.com and also look ahead to the top stories we will be covering in the fall, I have spent some time looking at the new UHSAA region realignment that is set to kick in.
I have some thoughts on things I am most interested in exploring with regard to the new alignment for all sports, but some of that will have to wait a few days. For today, I am starting with football. Have some thoughts on how realignment might impact the teams you follow? Share them with me. Here are a few things that strike me.
1) Emerging teams bumped from 4A to 5A
A year ago, Roy seemed to have arrived in Class 4A, and the Royals reached the state title game. Their hopes of taking another run at Timpview in that classification disappeared with the new region structure, as Roy moves to Class 5A’s Region 1 along with Mountain Crest and Sky View.
Sky View is another team that will provide some answers in 2015. The Bobcats have struggled to get past Timpview the past few years, but with a strong team returning this season, it might have been the year…except for realignment.
Now, we’ll see how Roy and Sky View adapt to 5A competition. Do they continue their rise to prominence or will the changes cause one or both to take a step back? I’m looking forward to watching.
2) New strength in Region 2
The old alignment had yielded some lopsided matchups in opening round matchups between Region 2 and whichever league drew it to open the football playoffs. Now, two of the top teams from the former Region 1 will make life interesting in the new Region 2 as Davis and Syracuse make the move.
The change will make play in Region 2 more interesting overall, but it also should change the look of the postseason considerably as this league will be much more competitive at the top.
3) Keeping the 5A powers together
As much as change has impacted part of Class 5A, some things will still be the same. Bingham and Brighton are sure to be among the top teams in the state’s top classification, and they are still in the same league, Region 3, along with Jordan.
That region has a bit of a different look overall, but the teams that have been on top are still ready to go head-to-head in the regular season as well as in the postseason.
One league that hasn’t changed much at all is Region 4, and that may or may not be good news, depending on your perspective. American Fork, Herriman, Riveron, Pleasant Grove and Lone Peak are all among the top programs in the state, and having them all in the same region means at least one will still miss out on the playoffs.
4) Going independent
Ogden was really hoping for a move to Class 3AA, but that did not work out when realignment was finalized. Instead of battling what the Tigers felt was an uphill battle in 4A’s Region 5, they sought and received permission to play as an independent while trying to get their program rolling.
5) Region 5 looks a lot like Region 6
The new Region 6 appears to be wide open, as the league’s former powers – Woods Cross, East, Bountiful and Highland now make up the core of the new Region 5. The good news is those battles between those four teams will go on.
6) New tests for Corner Canyon and Timpview
A year ago, in just its second year with a football program, Corner Canyon went all the way to the state semifinals without losing a game. The Chargers lost to Roy in that semifinal, leaving some questions about the strength of the schedule they raced through.
A little further south, the run of 4A state championships continued at Timpview, which has dominated Region 8 the last few years. The Thunderbirds went undefeated in 2014 and still look strong into the upcoming season.
If Corner Canyon puts up an impressive record in 2015, there will not be questions about the opposition. The Chargers have upgraded the non-league slate considerably, opening at Pleasant Grove, with non-region road games also set at American Fork and Maple Mountain. Then, on Oct. 9, Corner Canyon hosts new region foe, Timpview, in a game that will have a lot to say about playoff positioning from the new Region 7.
7) Southern Utah County powers control Region 8
Maple Mountain and Salem Hills have been building strong programs in Region 8, but those pesky Thunderbirds have been in the way. Now, with Timpview and Provo relocated to Region 7, it is time for those two schools, along with Spanish Fork, Springville and Wasatch to step forward in pursuit of a league title.
Perhaps those teams would rather keep Timpview around to test themselves against the best, but there is still the playoffs for that to play out.
8) Slight changes, big difference in 3A and 3AA
The split of Class 3A into a pair of classifications has made for some interesting competition in both the larger 3AA and for the smaller schools in Class 3A. The result has been a growing advantage for the teams from Southern Utah in 3AA, and the emergence of teams like two-time 3A champ Judge Memorial and Juab in 3A.
Now, Judge Memorial is in 3AA, where the Bulldogs are joined by former 4A power Logan, which has moved from 4A to make up a strong new North division. Those two will lead the charge against Dixie, Desert Hills, Hurricane, Pine View, Cedar and Canyon View as the north tries to catch the south.
Meanwhile, with Judge out of 3A, there will be a new champion in that classification. The door is certainly open for Juab in the 3A South, but Juan Diego has moved from 3AA to 3A and the Soaring Eagle have to be the favorite in the North and perhaps in the entire classification.