High school football: A fan's guide from A to Z as 102 teams begin a quest for gridiron glory
On Sept. 1, Bingham, Jordan and East will square off against top-notch out-of-state opponents. The three games will be played at Bingham High. East kick-starts the triple-header against Serra High (Calif.), while Jordan plays Long Beach Poly (Calif.) and Bingham concludes the event against Valor Christian (Colo.).
Q IS FOR QUEST
On Friday night, 102 programs flip the opening page toward the quest of ordering personalized state championship jewelry. And while every team enters with the same dream in mind, only five dreams will be answered.
R IS FOR RICE-ECCLES
It's an honor that only few will ever experience. The electricity of Rice-Eccles Stadium in November during the state playoffs is immeasurable.
S IS FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
The graduating class of 2013 is slated to produce many athletes that'll continue their playing careers at the collegiate level. Here's a list of some of the premier players that have already committed: Cottonwood's Bateman (Alabama); Woods Cross' Barton (Stanford); Pine View's Scott (Arizona); Cottonwood's Lo Falemaka (Utah); Bingham's Durrant Miles (Boise State); Lone Peak's Talon Shumway (BYU); Cottonwood's Siale Fakailoatonga (Utah) and Inoke Lotulelei (BYU); East's Merrill Taliauli (BYU); Alta's Harrison Handley (Utah); Brighton's Uaea Masina (Utah); Bingham's Keegan Hicks (BYU) and Hayden Weichers (BYU); Juan Diego's Dakota Cox (Cincinnati); Layton's Tyler Fox (Utah State); Logan's Caden Andersen (Utah State); and last but not least Woods Cross' Filipo Mokofisi (Utah).
T IS FOR THIRTY-ONE
The coaching turnover rate was record setting in the offseason with 31 programs hiring new head coaches. Incredibly, 23 of the 31 are first-time coaches in Utah. The previous record of new coaches was 25 in 2000.
U IS FOR UTAH
Don Bosco Prep, N.J., is nasty, to the point of disbelief. The Ironmen have captured 14 state championships, including six consecutive while appearing in the title game every year dating back to 2002. In 2009 and 2011, Don Bosco was named the USA Today and National Prep Poll National Champions. Dating back to that 2009 season, the Ironmen have won 46 consecutive games. The state of Utah will have an opportunity to showcase itself against arguably the best program in the nation on Sept. 29 at Rio Tinto Stadium when Alta looks to smelt the iron.
V IS FOR VARIANCE
After pacing the sidelines for Skyline since 1986, Roger DuPaix retired after the end of the 2011 season with 301 career victories (246 of them with Skyline), 67 playoff wins and eight state championships. Steve Marlowe, an assistant under DuPaix for 27 years, inherits the most decorated program in Utah history. There won't be much variation this year, as the Eagles will still operate from the triple-option and are positioned to make a deep run in 4A with a roster swarmed with talent.
W IS FOR WELCOME
Well, hello there! Welcome aboard, matey. The Summit Academy Bears will travel to Milford for their welcoming party to the Utah high school football scene as the 102nd officially sanctioned school of the UHSAA. It won't be an easy acclimation, however. With a roster virtually composed of underclassmen and every game on the road it could be a rough initiation.
X IS FOR XERIC
For teams scheduled to play Region 9 programs, not only does travel time become a factor, but the xeric climate will also influence performance. Make sure to bring an aquatic engineer as dedicated as Bobby Boucher to distribute water in the dry environment. Check those pH levels and keep those cups filled.
Y IS FOR YARDAGE
Moving 10 yards seems a lot harder against intuitive defenders. This season a handful of 100-plus tacklers return to terrorize opposing offensive production: Logan's Andersen (156), Layton Christian's Colin Greenhill (139), Murray's Derick Sanders (125), Bountiful's Rylee Gautavai (122), Hurricane's Jared Edwards (118), Millard's Jeremy Aleman (115), Riverton's Albert Tai (109), South Sevier's Alex Baker (108), Grantsville's Ky Fisher (106), Maple Mountain's CJ Hildebrand (105), Stansbury's Colton May (103) and South Summit's Garrett Crystal (103).
AND Z IS FOR ZILCH
The wait is over: zero days remain until the start of the high school season. Friday's the night. Beginning with American Leadership at Layton Christian at 4 p.m. along with 48 other scheduled games at 7 p.m., high school football has begun. There's the cue, Brighton. Start playing "Welcome to the Jungle." It's game day.