By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography) & Kurt Johnson
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 3.
#3 – Region 9 rules
Just a few miles separate the high schools that make up the league known as Region 9. These schools in the St. George and Cedar City areas of Southern Utah have become the dominating force in Class 3A high school athletics.
It’s not just that the teams of Region 9 win state titles, but while one of them is taking championships, the others always seem to be the stiffest competition. Our No. 3 story of the 2014-2015 schools sports year is another year of outstanding performances coming from Southern Utah’s best.
Of the 20 championships won in 3A sports (3AA for football) in 2014-2015, 12 of them were captured by teams from Region 9. In five of the eight sports in which a team from the league did not win the title, one of its squads finished second. In other words, there were just three state championship sports that did not include a Region 9 team in the top two – girls basketball, wrestling and softball.
Five in Fall
The year began with Southern Utah claiming 5-of-7 fall sports championships. Park City was the school who interrupted the dominance, in fact the Miners could be an honorary Region 9 invitee as they won four of the seven titles that did not head south.
Desert Hills was first up, claiming the boys cross country championship, and then four other schools from the south got into the act as the fall season continued. Pine View won girls tennis, Snow Canyon was the 3A champion in volleyball, Cedar took home the banner in girls soccer and Dixie was the 3AA football state champion.
The Flyers knocked off Region 9 foe Hurricane in the state title game after those two knocked out Pine View and Desert Hills in an all-Region 9 football final four.
In the two events won outside of Region 9, but Park City, Pine View was second in girls cross country and Region 9 went 2-3-4-5 (Dixie, Desert Hills, Pine View, Snow Canyon) in boys golf. The girls soccer final four was also Southern Utah heavy as Cedar beat Desert Hills for the championship, and Dixie was also in the state semifinals.
That’s a lot of championship competition for just the fall season.
Perhaps it is their Southern Utah roots as a contributing factor, but the most difficult season for Southern Utah’s dominance came during the winter. Of the six state championships that were awarded during the winter, just one went to a team from Region 9 – boys basketball, which was won by Pine View.
The league dominated boys hoops, as Dixie was the Panthers’ title-game opponent, while Desert Hills was a state semifinalist.
Elsewhere, Dixie, Cedar, Desert Hills and Canyon View finished 2-3-4-5 at the drill team state championships. Cedar was second to Park City in both boys and girls swimming, while Desert Hills was third in the pool among the girls teams.
Outside of that softball stumble, Region 9 finished up strong, owning the spring season. Pine View knocked off Cedar in the 3A baseball state finale, and Snow Canyon was the third-place team. In boys soccer, Dixie earned the championship, with a win over Pine View, with Snow Canyon also reaching the state semifinal.
Snow Canyon won the boys tennis state championship, while Desert Hills took titles in both boys and girls track and field. For the Desert Hills girls golf team, the 2015 state title was its sixth straight.
The power performances were spread out across the region, with five different schools – Desert Hills (four championships), Pine View (three championships), Dixie (two championships), Snow Canyon (two championships) and Cedar (one championship) all winning at least one state title. That’s a lot of winning in a reasonably small geographic area, and our No.3 story of the year.
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