The 119th season of prep football kicks off with 101 teams as the Diamond Ranch Diamondbacks join Class 1A. D.R., located in Hurricane, previously played a mix of 11- and 8-man football against out-of-state and J.V. teams, Abundant Life Academy (Kanab) and Sorenson's Ranch (Koosharem), whose football programs aren't within the auspices of the Utah High School Activities Assn.
Granger and Olympus are slated to have their schools rebuilt and that affects the football facilities, as well. Granger's new gridiron is almost ready, but Olympus will have to play at least some games at old Granite High until its field is ready later this fall. Granger was supposed to host Payson in Week 1, but the game was moved to Payson earlier this week.
Realignment – and Rivalries:
The UHSAA's innovative, every-two-year realignment forced some long-time rivals back together. This season, Spanish Fork meets Carbon for the first time since 1988; SF leads the 50-game series, 29-19-2…. Millard and Delta have played 87 times, and Payson greets Lehi for the 49th time, but both pairs haven't battled since 2006.
Meanwhile, other rivalries have gone on break for the time being. Among those, the most surprising is Springville-Payson – tied for the second most-played series with 92 games. They're off the schedule for the first time since 1953 and just the second time since the 1925 season.
Clearfield, moving to 4A, will avoid long-time rivals Layton (series last interrupted in 1968), Davis (1978), and Viewmont (1996).
Also on hiatus: Juab-Manti (22 wins each), uninterrupted since 1969; Brighton-Hillcrest, which have played 41 times since 1969; and Emery-Carbon, which battled for the Coal Bucket from 1989-2010.
Olympus won't play East or Highland for the first time since 1988 and 1996, respectively. Logan and Ogden won't renew their 67-game series for the first time since 2005.
San Juan hasn't missed playing cross-county rival Monticello since 1992, also the last time Emery and North Sanpete failed to meet.
Of course, those schools could have chosen to play in non-region games, so realignment can't be totally to blame.
Realignment – and Schedules:
One primary goal of realignment was to even out teams so that region games in a given classification begin about the same time. For example, the past couple of years, Region 1 had nine teams and began region play the second week while other 5A leagues didn't commence until Week 5.
Now, most regions start competition during Week 4 or 5, although Regions 2, 4, 10 and 12 won't begin until Week 6. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions. Class 2A plays region contests during Week 3 (Sept. 2), but those schools reserve Week 10 for their first-round playoffs.
In Region 3, Brighton visits Cottonwood in Week 3 in their region opener, while others in the league start at least two weeks later. Both have Week-6 byes before their next region game in Week 7. According to Cottonwood coach Josh Lyman, both schools had games "fall through the cracks" and decided to play early and take a bye in Week 6.
Taking advantage of Endowment Week, nine pairs of teams that chose to continue rivalries tangle in series that have been played at least 40 times:
Logan and Bear River clash for the 80th time since 1925; the Grizzlies have a 48-28-3 edge over the Bears, but they've split the last eight.
Murray battles Cyprus in their 73rd meeting; they've split the last 12 but Murray holds a 38-30-4 advantage in the series.