Laura Seitz, Deseret News
It’s quite common to find a league where two or maybe even three teams are expected to be strong contenders for a championship.
But five teams? No way.
That’s the case in Region 5 football this year, however, as all three Cache Valley schools — defending league champion Mountain Crest, along with Logan and Sky View — all figure to be in the hunt, as well as Box Elder and a resurgent Roy High team.
Picking a favorite is like pulling teeth — coaches stammer and squirm at the prospect of trying to decide which one of those five teams will wind up as the top dog in a region that also includes Bonneville and league newcomer Ogden.
“I think it’s loaded,” said Box Elder coach Robbie Gunter, whose team has been picked by some experts as the one to beat. “I think it’s a great region this year. The three Cache Valley schools, who knows which one is the best, but they are all excellent. And Roy is probably as good as they’ve been in a long time with great young kids and they’re competing.
“I don’t know that I’d pick a favorite. I think that they’re all pretty good.
“Mountain Crest has won it the last few years, so you’ve gotta give it to them going into it — you’ve gotta knock them off,” Gunther said. “Just because Mountain Crest has done it so many times (five titles won or shared over the last six seasons), you have to say that they’re the favorite. They always seem to put it together.”
However, Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton isn’t so sure about his own team's title contention.
Yes, the Mustangs are the defending league champs and were within one play of winning the 4A state championship last November, dropping a dramatic double-overtime heartbreaker to Timpview in the title game.
But he lost a lot of great players off that team, and he claims his young squad might be too inexperienced to take home another title this year.
“There are five or six teams that can win it,” Wootton said. “There’s not any clear-cut favorite. There could be a few teams that are really happy at the end — and a lot that are really disappointed. It’s just that close, and it could be a little disappointing because I think everybody will play everybody else tough.
“I just kinda hope that the tradition keeps our kids playing at a high level. Our expectations for the kids is real high. We’re pushing them very hard, and we coach our kids up to win. When you lose great players and have to fill a lot of spots, you hope that when kids get that opportunity they play real hard and get after it.”
Logan High coach Mike Favero certainly knows a little bit about playing hard, getting after it and bringing home a championship, as his teams have taken four state titles over the last 14 years.
And he sees this year’s Region 5 race as a five-team dogfight.
“Mountain Crest, Box Elder, Roy and Logan are probably very, very similar teams this year, and you can throw Sky View into that group as well,” he said. “Mountain Crest’s younger programs are outstanding and they will be right there — they’ve got too many kids not to (contend). And Sky View’s got a lot of talent coming back.
“Roy’s junior class was probably the strongest in the region. Their biggest thing is, mentally, can you turn the program around? They’re talented but, if the kids haven’t experienced success at a high level, sometimes they can be held back by that. I think the most talented team in the region is Box Elder; they’re tough.
“With those five teams, it’s going to be a very, very, very tight race,” Favero said.