High school football: Region 6 a running back's paradise
Ravell Call, Deseret News
The game of football has taken a dramatic turn in how teams play with possession. Nowadays, spread formations and passing yards flurry as scoring averages have increased into 40-plus points per game.
This new age concept doesn't apply for the newly aligned Region 6 that seems to be stuck in the "Caveman" era with the pigskin.
Bountiful, Clearfield, Cyprus, East, Highland and Woods Cross know how to win games the old fashioned way. There isn't an assortment of trick plays in the pockets of the six programs – but rather powerful, downhill rushing attacks, awareness of ball control and bloody-your-nose defenses.
Yet, from top to bottom, Region 6 is one of the deepest regions in the state, let alone in its own classification.
"It's pretty easy to tell that we're in one of the toughest regions. We have the defending state champions in Highland. Both East High and Bountiful High won playoff games; with Bountiful being semifinalist," said Cyprus coach Brian Jacketta. "Woods Cross is much improved with a coaching change and I think Clearfield does some good things, it's a tough league in 4A."
Last season, the six programs teamed up for 133 combined rushing touchdowns, while both East and Highland eclipsed 3,000 yards rushing as a team.
Although the region didn't suffer as dramatic of a makeover as others sustained in the massive 2011 UHSAA realignment – it did experience change with the addition of Cyprus and Clearfield, both 5A schools last season.
"We've got two quality 5A schools that have moved down. You're gonna have to battle day in and day out to win," said Bountiful coach Larry Wall. "I think in years past there have been teams that you could get healthy on, get a breather – I don't think that's the case
"I don't think it's a big change from last year," he continued. "I think it'll be one of the strongest regions in the state. I think Highland will be as good as they were last year. East is big, physical team. I look to them to improve from last year."
Early preseason buzz has dubbed the region as top heavy with Bountiful, East and Highland as the only true contenders to capture the title come season's end. Something that East's coach Brandon Matich highly disagrees with.
"Region 6 is a tough region; it's a tough, hard-nosed, black and blue region. As far as a three horse race – I don't know anything about Cyprus and Clearfield – but I do know a lot about Woods Cross," he said. "I still believe to this day that Woods Cross is the best team we played last year; they are loaded with talent and speed. I still think they're going to be a force to reckon with."
REGION 6 PROJECTIONS
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)
1. HIGHLAND: The Rams are in the position everyone would love to be in with the biggest concern being the abnormal amount of pressure that comes with defending a state championship. Highland lost several key players – most notably 4A MVP Nate Fakahafua. If that wasn't enough, Highland also has to travel to play Bountiful and East on the road. With all of the red flags waving around this season, the Rams are still predicted to finish first, showing just how talented this bunch really is. Recent Michigan signee, Sione Houma, is expected to do some magical things this season after rushing for 873 yards and six scores in his final five games. 2010 RECORD: 10-4. PLAYOFFS: Won 4A state championship, 37-36, over Mountain Crest.