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Note: Box Elder finished with a 6-5 overall record and was fourth in Region 5 with a 2-3 record in 2011. It lost to Olympus in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
BRIGHAM CITY — The way Box Elder High head football coach Robbie Gunter sizes up the situation, it almost appears as if everybody else in Region 5 is playing for second place behind defending 4A state champion Logan.
At least, that's the way it looks right now, although Gunter and the rest of the region certainly aim to have something to say about it before the 2012 campaign runs its course.
"It's a tough region and it looks loaded," the Bees' fourth-year coach said. "I'm sitting here looking at it on paper and, if we do our part, we could have a five-way tie for second — except for Logan. They've got everybody back except (star quarterback) D.J. Nelson, and he was the guy.
"They had a great defense last year, and they're all back this year," he said of the Grizzlies. "... All those guys that you said 'Ooh, that guy's pretty good,' they're all back. They can build an offense, and if they've got a defense like that, they're gonna be awfully tough to beat.
"Mountain Crest is loaded with some studs," Gunter added. "Sky View always has phenomenal, fast athletes, and Roy and Bonneville will be improved."
So, what about his own Box Elder ballclub?
"We've good group returning, and they're working at it," the Bees' coach said. "There's a good, positive vibe about the team. Guys are excited.
"Every year you get the senior class that wants their chance to leave their legacy, so it's always a fun time of year to direct them and get them where they need to be."
With a handful of returning starters on both sides of the ball, it's a safe bet that the Bees will definitely be in the mix come state playoff time again this year.
Shad Watson, a junior who has started the last two years at linebacker, moves into the starting quarterback spot this season.
"He's a big, athletic kid that does a good job," Gunter said. "He's been really working hard at it. He's a good leader who can run it and throw it. He's been our backup for the last couple of years, and he's really worked at it all offseason."
Jake Tolman, a senior who starts at cornerback and receiver, will back up Watson at quarterback. "He's a great athlete and he'll do a great job for us at quarterback if called upon," Gunter said.
The starting halfback position is "by committee," Gunter says, with seniors Kasen Flinders and Tyler Thornton serving as co-chairmen right now.
At fullback, senior Kyler Allen gets the starting call, and he's "probably our strongest kid," Gunter said. "He's very athletic and he has the ability to run in space, which fullbacks don't always do."
Allen will be backed up by junior Breckin Gunter, the coach's son.
At slotback, senior McKay Parrish and junior Jayk Brooks will share the reps, with Tolman and senior Dallin Stewart the team's top two wide receivers.
Nate Wanner, a senior who started at offensive tackle last year, has moved over to the tight end position and is battling with senior Clark Bown and freshman Darius McFarland for the bulk of the playing time.
On the offensive line, senior Taylor Lancaster will start at center, flanked by senior Paul Pilivi and junior Luke Daley at the guard spots, with senior Keaton Ayotte also available there. Senior Randon Smith and junior Cordon Barker will start at offensive tackle.
A pair of seniors, Joe Flores and K.C. Lowry, will serve as the starting defensive tackles, with Wanner and Ayotte joining them on the D-line at the end positions.