Region 4 preview: Herriman the favorite in a stacked Region 4
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
There’s no weeks off in Region 4. Every coach knows it and most claim to relish it.
As the teams line up for the 2014 season, Region 4 looks competitive as ever with no overwhelming favorite among the seven teams vying for region supremacy.
“I think we’re in the toughest region in the state,” said Herriman coach Dustin Pearce. “No matter who you're playing you need to be prepared in this region, and I love it. The kids love it."
Pearce's team is pegged by region coaches to be the favorite with a good slate of returning players, including a very imposing offensive line.
It's a position the Mustangs aren't all that familiar with but one Pearce says is positive.
"We're not flying under the radar anymore, and that's a good thing for the kids who have earned that through their hard work and dedication," he said. "For coaches, I guess it would be great to be able to sneak up on people, but that's not going to happen."
Certainly opposing teams are well aware of what the Mustangs bring back and lend the program plenty of respect as a result.
"I think Herriman has to be the team to beat, at least on paper," said Pleasant Grove coach Les Hamilton. "It's real hard to say anyone should be a clear-cut favorite though in this region."
Hamilton's Vikings also warrant a lot of respect from region coaches due to their success last season, among other factors.
"Coach Hamilton is one of the best coaches around, and he'll have something good every year. You can count on that," said American Fork coach Aaron Behm.
As for Behm and his Cavemen, they're pegged to finish third by region coaches due to being stocked with top-flight talent, including at least three players being heavily pursued by FCS football programs.
"American Fork is going to be as talented as anyone at several key positions," said Lone Peak coach Mike Mower. "We have a good rivalry with them there, and they're going to be a big challenge. No doubt."
As for the Knights, they lost almost every starter from a year ago but still warrant respect born of many years of success along with great development programs.
"Lone Peak has some good players coming up and we know that they always seem able to reload down there," said Riverton coach Mike Miller. "Lone Peak always has great athletes, and I'm sure it will be the same this year."
Miller's Silverwolves, on the other hand, return many of the playmakers who helped engineer yet another winning season.
"Coach Miller runs a great system down there, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done," said Lehi coach Ed Larson. "They're always tough. Everyone is tough."
Lehi came just short of reaching the playoffs after what many consider a breakthrough year in 2013. Winning is now expected by the Lehi community, and Larson, as a first-year coach, has been charged to deliver.
Rounding out the Region 4 schools is Westlake, which is new to 5A football and took its lumps last season under then first-year coach Steve Clements. This time around, however, Clements expects his team to see marked improvement.
"Nothing's easy in this region, but I think people will begin to realize that playing us here isn't easy either," he said. "We don't know for sure what type of team we'll be, but I guarantee you we'll be improved, and teams better watch out for us this year."
Region 4 team by team