All of the football teams in Region 5 have a couple of great things in common.
First, they've got coaches and kids who are fully invested in their programs. And second, they have supportive communities who deeply care about their high school sports teams.
Up north, there are three perennially strong programs — Logan, Mountain Crest and Sky View — who have created an intense three-way rivalry for bragging rights in Cache Valley.
To the south, longtime Weber County rivals Roy and Bonneville are both trying to resurrect once-proud programs with head coaches who were former stars at their respective schools.
And sandwiched between Cache Valley and Weber County is Box Elder, another strong program steeped in tradition and brimming with plenty of school spirit.
"What I love about Box Elder is, man, they're born bleeding purple here and they are loyal," said head coach Robbie Gunter. "If you're born a Bee, you're a Bee. ... It's fun to coach them, because their grandpa played here or their great grandpa did, and it's a lot of fun to be here for that.
"I love these kids. They are who they are and they've been playing together and have known each other forever, and the community knows who these kids are, too."
It's that way in Cache Valley, too, although there are times when the boundaries between Logan, Hyrum, Smithfield and the smaller towns in between can get blurred a bit.
Still, when it comes to football season, there's a level of dedication and commitment by these teenage athletes that's highly commendable.
And the games themselves are what "Friday Night Lights" is all about.
"We don't have an easy game in this league. There's no guarantee," said Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton.
"These kids up here in this region, for whatever reason, really work hard and I think each program keeps an eye on other programs and their kids see how hard those programs work, and they know they need to put in the time. We never, ever have to ask our kids to put in the time.
"We started in February at 6 in the morning, and we had 120 kids there.
Other teams in the region know our kids work hard, and we know their kids work hard, too. It's a fun community to play for, and the parents up here are great, too."
And even though Roy High has had a tough time fielding a winning team since before most of this year's players were born, it certainly hasn't hurt the Royals' home attendance at Ernest Durbano Field.
"This place fills up whether you're 0-9 or 9-0," said second-year Roy coach Fred Fernandes, who wants to give those diehard fans something to cheer about.
And with the high caliber of teams in Region 5, it's no wonder they draw huge crowds.
After all, Logan went undefeated last season on its way to winning the 4A state championship, and the Grizzlies are loaded for bear — pun intended — again this year.
But that doesn't mean the other teams in the league are going to just lay down and let Logan claim another league crown in a walkover.
"We're a different team from last year," said Mountain Crest senior receiver Faimafili "Mo" Laulu-Pututau, whose team finished second to the Grizzlies in last year's region race. "We're a lot faster and I think we have better work ethic, too."
So how good could the Mustangs be this year? "Region champs and potentially state champs, too," he said. "We're going for it."
Teammate Eddy Hall, who played quarterback last year but will switch to running back and slot back this year, agrees.
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