High school football: Wide-open race expected in Region 2 this season

Published: Sunday, Aug. 17 2014 11:45 p.m. MDT

Cottonwood/Bingham in prep football in South Jordan Friday, Oct. 26, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The scoreboard never lies, and it told some sad tales for Region 2 teams last season

Even though Taylorsville’s resurgence was one of the most captivating stories of the entire 2014 high school football season, collectively the region got punched in the gut once the playoffs rolled around.

The first-round massacres included four blowouts that were out of hand by halftime. Taylorsville lost to Alta 49-21, Hunter lost to Jordan 56-28, West lost to Bingham 41-10, and Cottonwood lost to Brighton 42-15.

There were similar lopsided results in the preseason too, with Region 2 schools getting clobbered by 5A elites like Davis, Bingham and Brighton.

When it was all said and done, Region 2 teams were outscored by an average of four touchdowns.

Who knows if anything will change in 2014, but one thing is for certain, the race for the region title could be wide open.

Region co-champion Taylorsville was extremely senior-heavy and faces an almost certain rebuilding year. Conversely, fellow co-champion Hunter returns a boatload of experience and should be vastly improved this year, while Cottonwood also expects to be better with an outstanding defensive line.

“Last year, we just came up short in some areas, but this year I think we’ve got a lot better leadership,” said Hunter coach Scott Henderson. “I think we’ve got a greater nucleus; we were really young last year. The seniors in charge are stepping up and leading by example, but they’re also being vocal leaders, and the biggest thing is they’re being responsible.”

For Taylorsville coach Rod Wells, this is his third year in charge of the program, and he hopes that continuity starts to make a difference on Friday nights.

“The things the staff’s been able to accomplish in a short time has helped us to move into that next phase where eventually we hope we’ll be like the Binghams and the Rivertons and the Davises that don’t rebuild, they reload,” said Wells. “This building process we’re going through eventually we won’t have to talk about rebuilding. Maybe we can talk about just reloading ourselves. That’s the goal.”

Cottonwood is the X-factor in this region. One through 11, coach Greg Croshaw believes he has one of the best defenses in 5A led by Colorado-bound T.J. Fehoko. The depth, however, drops off quickly.

“That’s been the key since I’ve been here,” he said. “When you don’t have the depth, it goes downhill in a hurry. I don’t know how you avoid injuries. It’s part of the game, but that’s what you gotta hope for, is to have some luck there and keep them healthy, and if we’re healthy we can play with anybody.”

West finished fourth in Region 2 last season, beating Granger and Taylorsville the last two weeks to qualify for the playoffs. Even though Bingham quickly sent the Panthers packing, the handful of returning starters have tried to build on the positives from those October wins over Granger and Taylorsville.

Granger and Hillcrest both have new head coaches after missing the playoffs a year ago, but neither believes past failures at their programs predicts future failures.

“Our goals and expectations are to get better. We hear that all the time. Everybody has expectations; I read all these things all the time,” said Granger coach Mike Morgan. “We want to take pride in being physical, in representing this community and being tough young men. But it comes down to taking pride in being physical.”

Morgan coached at West Jordan from 1999 to 2012 before taking last season off.

CONTRIBUTING: Ryan Love and Ryan McDonald.

Deseret News projections for Region 2 football teams in 2014