SALT LAKE CITY — Preseason is a time to sort out the kinks — a time to gain confidence and trust in one another while preparing for regular-season play. For last year's 5A state champions, it will be a time to rebuild.
The Alta Hawks lost all but one of their starters after taking home the 2011 championship title over this year's favorite, the Brighton Bengals.
Alta's Connor Sheffield — the lone returner — will have a tall order to fill, as his defensive experience will require him to be an overall leader.
The team will look to keep with tradition and find success, but the road will not be easy, as it will be hindered by their inexperience at the varsity level.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work," head coach Lee Mitchell said.
"We'll have to play as a team. That's the only way to overcome it."
Mitchell has been pleased with the underclassmen's ability to step up thus far.
The Hawks are 2-0 but are yet to be truly tested. They'll face Bingham next week in what is sure to be a tight contest.
The Miners boast an incredible starting lineup that consists of 10 returning seniors. Goalkeeper Taran Meyer, one of those seniors, will protect the net and orchestrate the defense.
"We'll look to him for the big saves and to be an overall leader on the team," Bingham head coach John Carper said.
Aaron Reese and Jake Peterson support Meyer in the backfield. The two anchor the defense while Sam Erekson directs the middle and Marcus Brown makes the "big plays."
The Miners hope to tackle a tough preseason schedule. "It's a way to test us. It shows our depth, where we stand, and where we need to grow," Carper said.
Possibly the biggest test will come Tuesday as they take on Brighton. The aggressive Bengals earned the No. 1 spot based on the preseason coaches' poll. The talent-laden team returns several key contributors including: Taylor Fankhauser, Matt Coffey, Skyler Milne and Daniel Baggaley.
"We graduated a lot of seniors but we have a lot of good players to fill the spots," head coach Russ Boyer said. "We have a good core back and we're very deep this year."
With veteran leadership and new talent, the Bengals are this year's team to beat — a prediction that Boyer will not allow his team to focus on.
"We don't concern ourselves with that," he said. "We want to focus on fulfilling our own potential and playing at the highest possible level for our team."
Viewmont moved to Region 2 this year and should dominate, though it returns just one varsity player. The players making up this year's team were highly successful at the JV level, coach Dave Wigham said.
Further north, Weber threatens to make some waves, and Davis is a highly favored team also, looking to build around senior John Taylor. The Darts picked up the commanding victory over Bountiful last week.
Despite the loss to Davis, the Braves are considered a reckoning force in Class 4A. They fell in the quarterfinals to Mountain View last year, but were the Region 6 champions. They return Richard Haddock and Kade Nordfors.
The talented cast should see a repeat region title and are very capable of taking home the 4A crown.
Mountain Crest, the defending state champion from last year, is back with a solid offensive lineup. The team will look to key contributors such as Daniel Flores, Brian Bingham and Josh Worley.
- High school boys track: Davis wins another 5A...
- If hired, Jeff Hornacek will face same...
- Dick Harmon: BYU coach Mike Littlewood...
- High school girls track: Davis wins...
- High school football: Orem player responds...
- The offseason status of NFL players with Utah...
- Mormon NFL safety Eric Weddle: Balancing...
- High school baseball: Snow Canyon overcomes...
- USA Rugby: 'What BYU won ... was a... 76
- Mormon NFL safety Eric Weddle:... 66
- Ryan Teeples: Ziggy Ansah's story... 64
- Utes football recruiting: Polynesian... 62
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 49
- High school football: Riley Nelson... 27
- Utah Utes football: Dr. Chris Hill... 24
- High school recruiting: Jackson Barton,... 20