In terms of realignment, the new Region 7 might be the state's most exotic league.
The addition of three Utah County schools — Mountain View, Orem and Timpanogos — has added a southern flavor, while Murray, Olympus and Skyline represent the already established broth. Sprinkle in first-year school Corner Canyon to contribute the necessary secret ingredient that has yet to be tasted and — voila.
Realignment uniquely brewed new competition between unfamiliar teams, but continued to cook already heated rivalries in this league.
“It’s an interesting region and we’re excited to take on some Salt Lake teams,” said Orem coach Tyler Anderson. “I think Skyline and Olympus are great programs. Murray has been down a bit, but they should be better. And then Corner Canyon, that‘s a complete unknown there. I‘m just glad we‘re hanging on to rivalries against Timpanogos and Mountain View.”
Timpanogos coach Ed Larson echoed the same sentiments.
"I'm grateful that we still get to retain our great rivalries with quality programs like Mountain View and Orem,” he said. “Orem is obviously going to be very tough this year and one thing I know about (Mountain View) coach (Jon) Snyder is he'll field a very tough team that will give everything they got no matter what."
Many of the schools will face each other for the first time either in history or after a lengthy hiatus.
“I think it’s really competitive,” Skyline coach Steve Marlowe said. “It’ll be nice to play with those Utah County schools. Orem is going to be really, really good. We played them in 7-on-7 at BYU and beat them, but you can just tell they’re a very good team.”
The big unknown in the region is Corner Canyon, the first-year school in Draper with a population primarily collected from neighboring schools Alta and Juan Diego.
“Corner Canyon is the wild card,” Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead said. “I truly believe they’re going to be in the fight. They have all this athletic ability coming in from Alta and Juan Diego. I just don’t see Corner Canyon being a typical first-year school.”
"I know that Corner Canyon is new, but don't think for a second that we're underestimating them because they're new,” Snyder added. “I know they got some very good players from Alta and elsewhere. That team is probably going to be as tough as any school in this region."
The region certainly added depth in terms of returning playoff experience. Excluding Corner Canyon, every team besides Murray qualified for the playoffs last year. However, only Orem secured a playoff win before eventually losing in the quarterfinals.
Deseret News projections for Region 7 football teams in 2013
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)
1. OREM: The Tigers have improved each season under Tyler Anderson’s tutelage, and expect the trend to continue by advancing to Rice-Eccles Stadium come November. Operating out of an air-raid-like offense, the Tigers have the talent and the athletes to do just that. Receiver Nolan Gray returns on the outskirts after hauling in a state-high 1,514 yards and 17 touchdowns off 83 receptions. Parker Overly and Nic Anderson, who both produced efficient seasons in 2012, complement Gray on the hashes. Replacing quarterback Taylor Camp remains the biggest question mark. Taylor’s brother, Tucker, appears to be next in line. 2012 RECORD: 8-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost 34-25 to Highland in the quarterfinals.
2. OLYMPUS: The Titans return 11 starters from last year’s squad with an opportunity to secure a third-straight region championship for the first time in school history. Olympus is extremely deep defensively with Connor Haller patrolling the secondary along with Michael Ninivaggi, Ryan Barber and Jeff Faletoi. Offensively, running back Coleman Meier is poised for a breakout season after inheriting the featured role in the backfield. 2012 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost 20-14 to Highland in the first round.
3. SKYLINE: For the first time since dinosaurs existed Skyline won’t run a triple-option offense. The Eagles are switching to the popular spread scheme in an attempt to dictate the pace of the game. For the first time since former BYU quarterback Brandon Doman’s junior season in 1993, an underclassman will voice the huddle — Braxton Chipman. He’ll have ample support from a talented offensive line. 2012 RECORD: 5-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost 35-6 to Bountiful in the first round.
4. TIMPANOGOS: In what appears to be a massive rebuilding process after losing nearly every contributor on both sides of the ball, the Timberwolves will rely on Austin Seegmiller, a versatile defender with an ability to play on the line or drop back at linebacker. Timpanogos will still be competitive, and as the season progresses could potentially surprise teams. 2012 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost 36-6 to Mountain Crest in the first round.
5. MOUNTAIN VIEW: The Bruins snuck into last year's 4A play-in game with an overtime win against Springville and are looking to exceed that production in 2013. Following the trend, Mountain View abandoned its flexbone offense in favor of the revered spread scheme. Ashton Domingo and Caden Gomez highlight an inexperienced bunch at running back along with quarterback Jaren Flaker and receiver Parker Hunsaker. 2012 RECORD: 4-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost 49-0 to East in the 4A play-in game.
6. CORNER CANYON: Many expect Corner Canyon to compete immediately with a talent group migrating from powerhouse programs Alta and Juan Diego. Michael Ebeling is a talented junior quarterback, and Riley Ogden is a shifty running back with breakaway speed. The Chargers already have a fair advantage up front with several hefty blockers. The secondary appears to be the focal point defensively with an abundance of team speed. 2012 RECORD: N/A. PLAYOFFS: N/A.
7. MURRAY: The Spartans are enthusiastic about the possibilities of improvement in coach Mike Richmond’s second season at the helm. His son, Riley, will direct the offense at quarterback with Ethan Barnett hibernating on the outside. Mitch Rasmussen is a short-statured back with deceptively quick change of direction. 2012 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.
CONTRIBUTING: Brandon Gurney
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