Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
The Utah high school football season is still more than a month away, but it's never too early for some chalk talk about the teams to beat in 2013.
Because of realignment and the graduation of some fantastic seniors, trying to predict what will transpire this fall has never been more difficult.
In fact, in the Deseret News' annual coaches preseason rankings, only the 1A ranks featured a unanimous preseason No. 1 — three-time defending champion Duchesne. Coaches in the other five classifications had very differing opinions on the teams to beat this season, which should make for an intriguing year.
After tallying all the coaches' votes, Bingham, Timpview, Dixie, Morgan and San Juan are the other Deseret News preseason No. 1s heading into 2013.
Timpview and Dixie join Duchesne as defending champs pegged to repeat.
In all six classifications — including the newly created 3AA and 3A — it's hard to argue with the coaches' championship predictions.
Even though Bingham lost in the 5A semifinals last year, the Miners return six starters on each side of the ball and begin the season ranked No. 1 in the Deseret News for the fourth-straight year.
Three other 5A teams garnered first-place votes, including 2012 runner-up Syracuse, which led the way with six first-place votes.
A Region 1 team has advanced to the 5A championship game four straight years, and Syracuse is good enough to make it five straight.
Of all the preseason No. 1s, Bingham faces the toughest road ahead in what should be another top-heavy 5A field. Realignment lumped Bingham in the same region with Alta, Jordan and Brighton, a region that was immediately dubbed the SEC of Utah high school football.
Defending 5A state champion Jordan checks in at No. 4 in the preseason rankings despite the return of Mr. Football Austin Kafentzis. With virtually no returning experience on the offensive line or in the receiving corps, many expect the 'Diggers to struggle. Wisconsin-bound Kafentzis will try and prove them wrong.
In 4A, despite returning just one offensive starter, Timpview was pegged as the clear-cut preseason No. 1 with 12 first-place votes. East received four first-place votes and begins the year ranked second.
Of the 18 coaches who submitted votes in 4A, four neglected to include East in their preseason top five — no doubt a silent protest against the Leopards after they were allowed to participate in the playoffs last season.
The Leopards return more than half their starters from last year, and coach Brandon Matich said they're an "angry group."
Mountain Crest, Logan and Highland round out the top five in 4A.
Voting in the newly created 3AA region was extremely tight, with only four votes separating first through fourth. Despite Weber State-bound QB Blake Barney graduating, coaches still narrowly voted Dixie the preseason No. 1 as it returns its entire receiving corps.
Juan Diego, Desert Hills, Stansbury and Hurricane round out the top five.
The oft-maligned UHSAA realignment that begins this season realistically just split the old 3A into two — a big 3A and a small 3A. Morgan could benefit from the split as it begins 2013 as the preseason No. 1 in 3A.
Of the eight quarterfinalists in last year's 3A state tournament, the Trojans are the only team that wasn't bumped up to 3AA.
Manti checks in at No. 2 in 3A after winning back-to-back state titles in 2A, followed by Judge, Grantsville and Juab in the preseason rankings.
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