The 120th season of Utah prep football kicks off with a record 102 teams as the Summit Academy Bears join Class 1A. Including discontinued programs, S.A. is the 131st school to field a team.
Endowment Week includes two of Utah's longest contested rivalries. Murray hosts Cyprus in their 74th meeting. The Spartans lead the series 39-30-4 since 1926 when Cyprus began its gridiron program. The winner has alternated the last six years with Murray winning 19-13 last season.
Up north, Box Elder entertains Weber in their 72nd clash. The Bees lead the series 50-18-3, which also began in 1926, when Weber opened. BE halted Weber's four-game series winning streak by shutting out the Warriors 41-0 last year.
Four other long-running series also highlight Endowment Week:
Wasatch and Grantsville meet for the 54th time – they battled in the same region from the late 1950s through the '80s – and in their Endowment Game since 2002. The Wasps control the series 36-16-1.
For the 51st time, Judge and Tooele square off. The Bulldogs have a 29-21 edge.
Kanab has a 40-5 margin over North Sevier in an uninterrupted series that began in 1975. NS last defeated the Cowboys in 2008 to capture the Class 1A championship.
Highland confronts West for the 40th time. The Rams won 44-14 last year to eke out a 21-20 series lead.
First Time Encounters
In the second – and final – year of the current region alignment, most Endowment Week games are simply duplicates of last year's, but at the opposite field. However, a few teams managed to switch schedules and create five first-time meetings: Diamond Ranch at Enterprise, Northridge at Logan, Mountain View at Mountain Crest, Snow Canyon at San Juan and Summit Academy at Milford.
Other Game Notes
Forty-three of the other 44 games pair teams that have played each other at least once since 2010.
The exception: Bear River and North Sanpete meet for just the third time and first time in the regular season. The Bears captured playoff victories over the Hawks in 1999 and 2006…. American Fork at Cedar seems an unusual pairing, but this marks the fourth straight time the two have opened the season and 12th meeting overall. The Cavemen lead the series 9-2.
Dixie and Springville lit up the scoreboard the last two years – Springville won 55-48 in 2010 and Dixie took a 41-35 overtime thriller last year…. Despite having to hurdle over the Salt Lake Valley, Bountiful and Lone Peak have met at least annually since 2002. The series is knotted at 6-6.
This season will see a record 32 coaching changes affecting nearly one-third of Utah's high schools. In 2000, there were 25 coaching changes, the previous high, and in 2005, there were 24.
Two coaches are returning to schools where they've coached before: Jerry Cowan at Duchesne and Jim Dandy at Monument Valley. Twenty-three others are first-time head coaches in the Utah prep ranks. The other seven are simply switching schools.
A couple of the newbies face off when Mike Richmond's Murray Spartans host Cyprus under Scott Wooldridge, although Wooldridge has six years of prior experience at Nampa High in Idaho.
Two games pit first-time head coaches: American Leadership (Bobby Kauo) at Layton Christian (Kitt Rawlings) and Provo (Cody Mallory) at Westlake (Gary Clark).
One other contest matches experienced coaches who are new to their school: Ben Lomond, under Bill Mierzejewski (30 years in Wyoming, Idaho and overseas) visits Union, directed by Matt Labrum (five years at Parowan).