2. BOUNTIFUL: The Braves have made two consecutive trips to the semifinals — coming up empty handed both times. The expectation this season is not only return to Rice-Eccles Stadium, but to advance further. Bountiful has the talent to do so, but it will shoulder-lean on its defense heavily. For Braves faithful, that comes as no surprise considering their staple has always been on the dark side. Senior linebacker Rylee Gautavai, a three-year starter, is one of the best 'backers in the state with 122 tackles last season. 2011 record: 8-5 PLAYOFFS: Lost to Logan, 59-30, in the semifinals.
3. HIGHLAND: The Rams were extremely talented last season, but like their region counterparts East and Bountiful, they failed to get past eventually state champion, Logan. This year, Highland has the ability to make a run similar to its championship campaign in 2010. It's relatively unbuttered at this point in time, but the offensive and defensively philosophies it incorporates tailors towards producing a quick learning curve. 2011 record: 7-3 PLAYOFFS: Lost to Logan, 28-13, in the quarterfinals.
4. WOODS CROSS: This is the year that the Wildcats truly feel they'll win the first state title in school history, and by all means they have the talent to do so. Woods Cross brings back nine starters on defense and all but one skill player on offense. However, making a huge jump from having a losing record to vying for a championship is difficult. The 'Cats are breaking in a new offensive line with several hopeful transfers yet to be approved, which leaves an anxiety towards an offensive unit that could be special. If Woods Cross can battle through the trenches and make defensive stops in the fourth quarter, it can compete for the 4A crown. 2011 record: 4-6 PLAYOFFS: Lost to Timpview, 31-14, in the first round.
5. CLEARFIELD: The Falcons' motto throughout the new coaching transition has been return to excellence. In the 1990s, Clearfield continuously contended at a high level. The stepping stones have been laid out, and the strides are being made to change the culture of the program. But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. It's going to take time and the Falcons aren't there yet. 2011 record: 2-8 PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
6. CYPRUS: With a new zone-read offense, the Pirates should be more competitive this season. It's a better fit for a team that does have size and deceptive speed in certain areas. Quarterback Dennis Kamakana, after a baptism by fire his junior season, should be more comfortable under center for Cyprus. Look for the Pirates to break its 10-game losing streak, but once region play starts, they're simply outmatched and outnumbered. 2011 record: 0-9 PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify
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