High school football: Balanced Region 1 will be 'battleground' from top to bottom

Published: Monday, Aug. 19 2013 8:45 p.m. MDT

Fremont is picked to finish fifth in a tough Region 1.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Sure, there’s that new powerhouse league in Salt Lake County that’s loaded with terrific 5A football teams like Bingham, Alta and defending state champion Jordan.

Between those three schools, they’ve won six state titles over the last seven years.

Add Brighton, Copper Hills and West Jordan to that mix, and there’s no doubt that Region 3 is a tough, tough place to play football.

But there’s this league up north, Region 1, that plays some pretty intense football, too. No, they don’t often take home the top prize in the state playoffs, but they sure do a great job of getting one of their teams in the 5A finals year after year after year.

In fact, since Davis High claimed the crown in 2004, Region 1 teams haven’t been able to bring home a 5A state championship. But when it comes to finishing second in the state, well, they seem to have the market on that.

Syracuse lost to Jordan in last year's championship game; Fremont finished second in back-to-back seasons, 2010 and 2011; Layton lost to Alta in the 2007 finals; and Davis dropped the title game to Bingham in 2009.

That’s five runner-up showings in six years, and, what's more impressive, they’ve come from four different programs — Syracuse, Fremont, Layton and Davis.

No wonder, then, that Region 1 coaches feel like they just might have the most balanced football region in the state — perhaps even more balanced than top-heavy Region 3.

“I’m really stressing to our guys about getting ready to play at a high level,” said longtime Davis High head coach Ryan Bishop. “I feel so strongly about the competitive balance in Region 1 and being ready for those region battles here in a month or so. ... We want to make sure that when we really need to be hitting full stride is when our region season rolls around.

“And my thing is, and what I’ve tried to relay to our kids, is there’s no room for mediocrity in Region 1. Nothing against any of the Salt Lake schools or regions, and I know those regions are good right now — you’ve got the Binghams and the Altas and so on down. ... Every one of those regions has got good teams in it, but from top to bottom, I just feel extremely strong that Region 1 is the most competitive, balanced region in the state.”

Fremont High head coach Kory Bosgieter, whose team finished far down the league standings last season, then went on the road and knocked off Region 2 champ Hunter in the first round of the state playoffs, agreed completely with Bishop’s assessment.

“Is there a tougher region top to bottom than Region 1?” Bosgieter posed. “There’s outstanding teams in every region, and people may argue with you ... but top to bottom, I think we’re as tough or tougher than anybody out there.”

Bishop said one of the great things about their league is the way underdog teams are constantly rising up to knock off one of the favorites — if you could actually call them that. He’s not so sure.

“The thing about Region 1 is ... it’s easy to see that Syracuse is kinda that premier team right now, but it’s just so hard — there’s not a clear-cut favorite in Region 1,” Bishop said. “You’ve always got somebody beating somebody they’re not supposed to beat. That’s always the way it is.

“We always have upsets; we’re always going down to the last couple weeks of the season for playoff spots and seedings. ... And in our region, teams are so well-coached and there’s so much familiarity up here and I keep talking about the competitive balance.