If Region 7 soccer coaches didn't think their schedules were tough enough, there's no question they'll all have their hands full this season.
The seven-team region has at least four solid teams that could be considered championship contenders, and there will be some real battles to see who makes the playoffs in what seed.
Mountain View is dropping back down to Class 4A after narrowly losing in last year's 5A state championship game, and the Bruins are the early favorites. But an improved and athletic Timpview team isn't far behind, and Orem and Provo should once again return strong teams after both made it to the state semifinals in 2007.
All the teams are hoping that the difficult play from game-to-game in region play will help prepare them for the playoffs.
"We'd like to do really well in our region," said Timpview coach Jeremy Stevenson. "Our goal is to prepare throughout the season and having the end in mind so we're built as a team that can last the whole season."Here's a closer look at how the region's teams are shaping up:
MOUNTAIN VIEW BRUINS
Coach: Mark Graham
2007 record: 13-5-2, second in Region 4, lost in 5A championship game
Key players: Travis Fuller, forward; Mike Chesler, goalkeeper; C.J. Garner, defender
Outlook: The Bruins return enough from last year's team to be the early region favorites. There are some holes to fill, especially in the attack and midfield, but the defense should be one of the strongest in the state.
Coach: Jeremy Stevenson
2007 record: 11-6-0, third in region, lost in first round of playoffs
Key players: Joe Espinoza, forward; Cameron Shumway, midfielder; Karson Payton, forward
Outlook: Timpview's team speed is its best asset, and its high-flying attack will give even the best defenses plenty to worry about. Team consistency and chemistry will be the biggest key for the T-Birds.
Coach: Ed Louder
2007 record: 13-3-2, first in region, lost in state semifinals
Key players: Cameron Clark, goalkeeper; Sonny Chandara, forward
Outlook: Team defense and midfield play is always one of Orem's strengths, and this year should be no different. The forward position is the biggest question mark as the Tigers will need to find consistent scorers.
Coach: Cesar Cardoso
2007 record: 11-6-2, second in region, lost in state semifinals
Key players: Edgar Caldera, forward; Ryon Ellingson, goalkeeper
Outlook: The Bulldogs have some rebuilding to do, but have a good group of players to work with. The roster has a lot of young and developing talent that should mature as the year goes on.
SPRINGVILLE RED DEVILS
Coach: Rick Bertelsen
2007 record: 7-9-1, fourth in region, lost in first round of playoffs
Key players: Joe Shinners, forward; Phil Dangerfield, midfielder; Andrew Dearden, forward
Outlook: Springville has a good combination of experience and skill, and hopes to contend for a playoff spot. The Red Devils will field one of the best attacking fronts they've had in a few years.
Coach: Chris Wilcox 2007 RECORD: 5-11-0, fifth in Region 11, lost in first round of 3A playoffs
Key players: D.J. Gallegos, forward; Mitch Gallegos, forward
Outlook: The move up to Class 4A won't be made any easier by a tough region with a lot of depth. Tooele has some capable scorers and will work to strengthen its defense.
Coach: Lee Gillie
2007 record: 3-12-1, sixth in region
Key players: Kevin Finlayson, goalkeeper
Outlook: Gillie returns to coach the Lions after a two-year absence. He has a tough task in front of him building a team from the back up. Payson will need to tighten its defense up to stay in games.
Predicted finish: Seventh