Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Did someone say football? Yes-siree-Bob.
The 2011 Utah high school football season is scheduled to get underway tonight. This marks the 119th season and it looks to be a magical one.
What hold-your-breath players are returning this year? What records will be broken? And which team is the odds-on favorite to hoist the state championship trophy come seasons end?
Here is the ultimate high school fan's media guide in alphabetical order to help get ready for Friday Night Lights.
Ready. Set. Go.
A IS FOR ALTA
All eyes are on the Sandy school this year, but for different reasons than it's accustomed to. How will the Hawks bounce back from their first losing season since 2004 while trying to adapt to an entirely new coaching staff? This roster is regarded as one of, if not, the most talented in the state.
B IS FOR BINGHAM
The "Blue Crew" has become the epitome of Utah high school football after advancing to the state championship four out of the last five years. The Miners are currently riding the longest winning streak in the state (24) along with the longest in-state streak (26) en route to capturing two consecutive 5A titles.
C IS FOR COOPER BATEMAN
The junior quarterback already has offers on the table from Utah, BYU, Utah State and Ole Miss along with interest from Maryland, Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Scout.com. Last season he tossed for 1,822 yards and 23 touchdowns with only six interceptions while leading Cottonwood to a 10-1 record.
D IS FOR DARK SIDE
Several standout defensive players return for the 2011 season across the state including but not limited to: Troy Hinds (Davis), Rhett Sandlin (Alta), Peter Brown (Desert Hills), Hunter Dimick (Syracuse), Moses Foluahola (Hunter), Micah Hannemann (Lone Peak), Bud Pope (Desert Hills), Moana Ofahengaue (Westlake), Tanner Richardson (Mountain Crest), Taylor Parker (Hurricane), Jared Afalava (Bingham), Kane Neally (Duchesne), Austin Lee (Alta), Taylor Loomis (Jordan) and Jake Gallegos (Fremont).
E IS FOR ENERGY
The unmistakable aroma of Friday Night Lights is circulating in the air right now. Thousands of players are buckling up chin-straps, spatting cleats and throwing on game jerseys for the first time throughout locker rooms across the state. It's time, can you feel it? Are you ready for some football?
F IS FOR FINALLY
It's been a long five years, but Diamond Ranch is officially the 101st UHSAA sanctioned school in the state of Utah. The St. George boarding school is a treatment center for troubled teens who spend roughly a year there before moving on.
G IS FOR GROUND GAME
Quick — what's the first thing that comes to mind when Hunter football is mentioned? Powerful offensive lines with a vicious downhill running attack ... and the shotgun? Forget about it. That's all about to change with first-year coach Les Hamilton implementing the spread offense. The Wolverines will still run the ball, just out of formations that you'd never imagine them in.
H IS FOR HINDS
Davis' Troy Hinds is considered the top prospect for this year's senior class and was named a third-team All-American as a junior. The four-star recruit recently committed to BYU after receiving offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State according to Scout.com. He's accumulated 138 tackles and 10.5 sacks in two years with the Darts.