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High school football: Everyone agrees that title-laden Region 3 will be extremely tough

Published: Friday, Aug. 16 2013 7:20 p.m. MDT

Bingham plays Alta in a football game at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

With six of the last seven 5A state championships belonging to teams currently in Region 3, a consensus has formed among coaches of that league: Competition is going to be extremely fierce.

“With all due respect to every other region in the state, this is the best region. Period,” said first-year Copper Hills head coach John Teuscher.

Along with the Grizzlies, the league features Alta, Brighton, Jordan and West Jordan — and gains Bingham in exchange for Cottonwood.

“Bingham, everybody in the state knows what they’re about; Coach (Dave) Peck has done an unbelievable job. Coach (Bob) Stephens also does great job, and when anybody hears the name ‘Alta’ you know what they’re about,” Teuscher said. “Jordan, they are the defending state champs, and that’s the third name most people bring up when they talk about Region 3. They are not the third-best, but you know our league is good when people talk about a region and don’t name the state champ very first most of the time.”

With the exception of Lone Peak's title in 2011, the Salt Lake County teams in Region 3 have won every championship since 2006. Bingham owns three of them; Alta has two; and Jordan was crowned most recently. That amount of history sets a high bar moving forward.

“It’s cliche, but this is the SEC of Utah high school football,” Teuscher continued. “There is no week off.”

The Miners are the preseason favorite to win Region 3, and for the fourth-consecutive year enter the season as the top-ranked team in the Deseret News Top 25. They return six starters on both offense and defense, and every single person on the roster expects to bring home a state title.

But while Bingham’s veteran leadership is on the offensive line, Alta and Jordan return experienced quarterbacks.

The Hawks return Chipper Lucero, a senior who gained experience after fighting for the starting spot a year ago and then went on to record 3,414 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.

Although the Beetdiggers lost all five offensive linemen, the defending champions do welcome back 2012 Mr. Football Austin Kafentzis, a junior who threw for more than 2,800 yards, ran for more than 1,600 yards, and accounted for 54 total TDs en route to the title a season ago.

Both teams, and their coaches, are looking forward to an exciting region schedule.

“It’s a crazy alignment,” said Jordan coach Eric Kjar. “I think it’s good to always see what you have, and to be tested against good competition. I feel like, going through our region, you’re going to be prepared for whatever comes your way in the postseason.”

Brighton, a team that earned its spot in the playoffs with a play-in victory last year, has high expectations for the upcoming season, including setting sights on a region title.

“Everybody wants to compete for a region championship, and I’m sure every team in the league is saying the same. That is obviously our goal,” head coach Ryan Bullet said. “I don’t think anybody will go undefeated in our league. I think it’s going to be rough, and you’re probably pretty darn good if you can do undefeated in this league.”

The Bengals are well-known around Region 3, and opposing coaches anticipate a solid showing from the Bengals behind the leadership of Osa Masina and sophomore quarterback Drew Jensen.

Masina, a junior, gained valuable on-field experience last season filling in for his older brother, Uaea Masina, who was hit with injuries for much of the year.

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