High school football: A fan's guide from A to Z as 102 teams begin a quest for gridiron glory

Published: Thursday, Aug. 16 2012 9:46 p.m. MDT

Mountain Crest vs Woods Cross high school football played in Woods Cross, Utah on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Don't miss out on this year's High School Grid Picks contest. $50 Amazon Gift Cards awarded weekly. The Grand Prize is a $150 Amazon Gift Card.

Hot-diggity-dog! Get out the planners, calendars and iPhones and proudly mark your weekend busy.

It's officially that time of the year where football fans anxiously prepare household chores midweek in order to sufficiently provide enough time for slip-screens, post routes and goal-line stands.

The dishes can wait — it's third-and-short.

Starting Friday night, the 120th rendition of Utah high school football kicks off with many interesting storylines enveloped among the 102 teams buckling up chin straps across the state.

If you weren't already wobbling in your boots from pure excitement, this preview in alphabetical order will help get you going.

Friday Night Lights. Camera. Action.

A IS FOR ATTENTION

Utah is becoming a breeding ground for next-level athletes on the gridiron. Currently, according to ESPN.com recruiting, three players have received grades of four stars: Cottonwood's Cooper Bateman (Alabama), Bingham's Lowell Lotulelei (Undeclared) and Woods Cross' Sean Barton (Stanford).

B IS FOR BUFFET

Easily the most thankless position on the field — the buffet-busters on the offensive line are the key to every program's goal of hoisting the state championship trophy come season's end. Here's a short list of several returning blockers: Jordan's B.J. Cavendar and Zach Larsen, Brighton's Jackson Barton, Fremont's Tucker Hurd, Pine View's Logan Scott, San Juan's Bogh Bayles, South Summit's Garrett Crystal, American Leadership's Oaks Morley, Altamont's Cassidy Smith, Diamond Ranch's Tion Timmel and Duchesne's Wade Shepard.

C IS FOR COLLARBONE

Settle down, Dr. Oz. This isn't about human anatomy or broken bones — but followers of the Jordan program could explain exactly where this is headed. With the Beetdiggers leading 13-3, then-freshman Austin Kafentzis broke his collarbone during the loss to eventual 5A state champion Lone Peak in the semifinals of last year's state playoffs. Now, fully healed, the reigning MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year has many offensive weapons at his disposal. In 2011, he passed for 3,188 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 1,377 yards and 21 scores. With all five starters returning up front and one year under his belt — Kafentzis' interception total (19) should drop dramatically in what looks to be a special season for the Maroon and Gold.

D IS FOR DOMINANCE

The 3A classification has evolved into a yawner over the course of several years. Although 26 programs compete in the state's third largest classification — in reality it's been a two-horse race. Juan Diego and Hurricane have combined for four straight state titles. Dating back to the 2008 season, the Tigers are 48-7 (suffering only four setbacks if Juan Diego is removed from the equation). The Soaring Eagle meanwhile is 49-4 during that stretch. In that time span, not including games against each other, the two programs have lost only four games against 3A competition.

E IS FOR END

For some programs, victories have been few and far between as of late. But that doesn't mean 2012 holds the same prospects. Beginning Friday night, 17 teams will look to put an end to losing streaks: Weber (13), Union (11), Cyprus (10), Parowan (10), Tooele (10), Murray (9), Canyon View (7), North Sevier (7), Taylorsville (7), Gunnison (6), Lehi (6), Carbon (5), Copper Hills (5), Grand (5), Layton (5), Snow Canyon (5) and Whitehorse (5).

F IS FOR FOURTH

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