Last, but looking not to be least is Lehi, who looks to rise up from its doormat status. Second-year coach Dave Hastings likes his chances.
"Learning how to win in a program that hasn't been able to win for a long while isn't an easy thing," said Hastings. "One of our themes my first year was to expect to win, and it's something these kids haven't expected to do for a long, long time. So the credit goes to them for believing in what we're trying to do here."
Region 4 projections
(Preseason rankings are based on coach's votes)
1. BINGHAM: The Miners return a lot of starters, but most importantly learned the importance of good leadership coming off of last season. As always, Bingham's strength will be along both its offensive and defensive fronts. The headliners are seniors Lowell Lotulelei on defense and Keegan Hicks on offense. With key returning playmakers on the outside, Bingham should make a strong bid to win it all in 2012.
2. LONE PEAK: While offense led the way in 2011, Lone Peak looks to get defensive in 2012. Linebackers Josh Buck and Spencer Reinstein lead a defense that should be tough to score on. The Knights also return Talon Shumway, who has proven to be one of the most exciting playmakers in the state. Shumway will be used at a variety of positions.
3. RIVERTON: The Silverwolves aren't the biggest team, but look to be strong again with a good stable of running backs ready to thrive in Coach Miller's triple-option system. Albert Tai leads the defense and will be joined by Dallin Munger and Ethan Munger in what looks to be one of the better linebacking corps in the state.
4. PLEASANT GROVE: The Vikings will be led on offense by bruising running back Colton Babb, but will also feature key playmakers on the outside like Skyler Munson and Spencer Romney. Players have responded well to new Coach Les Hamilton and look to improve after a down year in 2011.
5. AMERICAN FORK: The run-heavy Cavemen may open it up more this season with playmakers on the outside such as Shayden Luker, Jade Lucker, Jonah Trinnamman and Chris Boone. They're a team that proved to be competitive against top teams last season and will look to upset those same teams and make another run at the state playoffs.
6. LEHI: Dave Hastings accomplished in 2011 what no prior coach has since 2008 — win a football game. In 2012, he'll seek his first region win in his second year of coaching the Pioneers' program. He'll hope to reprise a prolific running attack that was amongst the state leaders last season.
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