High school football: Defending champ Bingham the favorite in powerhouse Region 3
Tom Smart, Deseret News
The 2013 high school football season ended with Bingham hoisting the 5A state championship trophy.
For those keeping track at home, that is the seventh title won in the last eight seasons by a team currently aligned in Region 3.
The Miners have four of those trophies; Alta earned back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008; and Jordan won in 2012. Add to that the Brighton Bengals’ second-place finish and the Jordan Beetdiggers’ semifinals appearance at the end of last season.
With all of those trophies heading to the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley, it is safe to say Region 3 — made up of Alta, Bingham, Brighton, Copper Hills, Jordan and West Jordan — is once again loaded with talent.
“I don’t think there’s any question we play in the best region in the state,” Copper Hills coach John Teuscher said, echoing thoughts similar to those he shared at the beginning of last season when he called the league the SEC of Utah high school football.
“I don’t think you can argue that,” Teuscher said. “We’re going to play against the best middle linebacker in the state. The next week, we’re going to play the best quarterback in the state. The safety over at Alta, Bingham’s got great players — it’s a really competitive region and there are no off-nights.”
Coming off of their undefeated championship run, the Miners once again enter the 2014 season as the Region 3 favorite in spite of returning just two offensive starters.
“We might struggle a little bit offensively early while we get some things figured out,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck, who noted the distinct advantage his team has in returning senior quarterback Kyle Gearig.
Gearig guided the Miners into the championship game last November but suffered a concussion in the final play before halftime and spent the remainder of the victory off the turf. Up until that point, he had totaled 1,876 passing yards for 29 touchdowns along with 648 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
“I think he’s the best quarterback in the state,” Peck said. “I know there are some other great QBs in the state, but I think Kyle is the best of them all.”
That is high praise considering the Beetdiggers return senior quarterback Austin Kafentzis. The 6-foot-1, Wisconsin-bound player won a state title and was named Mr. Football his sophomore season, has never finished lower than the semifinals, and already owns the state record for the most yards of total offense across his career with 13,919.
Otherwise, Jordan returns seven total players on offense, enabling head coach Eric Kjar to feel as if the squad is simply picking up where it left off last season. The defense returns five starters, including senior lineman Soloman Matemate.
Brighton and head coach Ryan Bullett, on the other hand, return six offensive starters, none of which are linemen.
“I think we’re going to score some points and we’ll be pretty good on defense,” Bullet said, “but there’s a lot of inexperience and youth on the offensive line.”
Still, the Bengals do have senior running back and linebacker Osa Masina as well as junior utility player Drew Jensen returning to both the offensive and defensive lineups.
Down the road, Alta returns just two kids on offense — Don Wilkinson and Josh Soifua — and four on defense — Quinn Fabrizio, Soifua, Zack Moreton and Joe Tavo — as the Hawks negotiate a significantly smaller roster with the opening of Corner Canyon.