Week after week, the 2007 prep boys soccer season yielded unpredictability.
From Region 1 to Region 17, upsets were to be had everywhere. By the time it had ended, dogged Grantsville had snapped a 119-game region losing streak, Region 1 had ended with every single team tied with at least one other team, the state's two long semifinal appearance streaks held by 3A's Park City and 5A's Brighton had both been snapped, and other strange and wacky things had taken place.
But 2008 promises to be an entirely different proposition.
Though it's still early and we'll get a much more complete picture of the state once teams have entered region play, there are some signs pointing to the return of normalcy.
With two weeks of the young season gone and with a whole lot of soccer left to be played, here is a closer look at each classification:
CLASS 5A: Don't be surprised if the big boys are in charge here.
Early on, the big three of Region 2 No. 1 Jordan, the defending champ, No. 2 Brighton and No. 4 Alta have all shown signs of leading the way in 5A.
To be fair, Jordan and Alta haven't been tested in the same way that Brighton has, but if things continue the way they've gone early, the home-and-away battles between those three could be ridiculously entertaining.
Add to that the fact that the UHSAA, in its infinite wisdom, is only giving Region 2 three postseason spots this season and that Taylorsville, Skyline and Hillcrest have all played well early, and the mantra of getting points any way you can could reach a whole new meaning.
Jake Hustedt, the reigning 5A MVP, is widely regarded as the top player in the state and will pace Jordan. Travis Barton and Mike Nielsen will lead Brighton, while midfielder Justin Staples and forward Richard Harrison will lead Alta.
Besides Region 2, expect the heavyweights from Region 1 third-ranked Davis, Viewmont, Layton and Weber to be statewide contenders as well. All four of those teams have vast playoff experience, are full of talented players and know what it takes to win when it matters.
CLASS 4A: From top to bottom, you could argue that 4A has the deepest classification in the state, purely from the standpoint that all three 4A regions will be very competitive and all should feature statewide contenders.
Some of the faces have changed at Bountiful High, home of the defending 4A champs, but the expectation for success remains.
What the Braves may lack in experience, they make up for in talent. Led by returning all-staters Mike Knight and Judd Wray, as well as talented goalkeeper Brian Simmons and others, Bountiful seems to have all the tools necessary to defend its championship.
Behind them, though, there are a lot of challengers.
Bountiful's league, Region 5, was extremely tough a season ago and could be again this year, with squads like Woods Cross, Bonneville, Sky View and Mountain Crest appearing to be strong.
In Region 6, East and Olympus have been the class of the league for the past few years, and there's no reason to think that won't continue. Both, despite some early hiccups, should be regarded as statewide contenders.
Finally, Mountain View which moved from 5A to 4A this year Timpview and Orem lead the way in what could be very a difficult Region 7. Springville, also of that league, has played really well early.
CLASS 3A: Of the four classifications, this one seems the most uncertain.
However, that's not necessarily the case at the top, where No. 2 Logan has established itself as the team to beat. The Grizzlies were the 3A runner-up in 2006 and 2007, and they played a ton of sophomores last year.
Leading the way will be junior striker Edwin Sanchez, who's already tallied four goals. Surrounding him is a host of talented teammates.
Logan has already notched wins over Mountain Crest, Sky View and Park City, but the Grizzlies did fall 1-0 to Wasatch a week ago.
Wasatch of Region 10 has traditionally fielded very strong teams, and that seems to be the case again in 2008. You would presume that archrival Park City will be in the 3A mix, though the Miners do have a new coach, and Waterford, which moved from 2A to 3A, should be good as well.
Aside from those four, however, the rest of the classification seems extremely wide-open right now.
CLASS 2A: A year ago, this classification was dominated by eventual champion Waterford, with runner-up Rowland Hall and St. Joseph clearly a step ahead of everyone else.
So now that Waterford has moved up to 3A, you'd think the 2A title would be fought out between Rowland Hall and St. Joseph, right?
Well, probably, despite the fact that a thin St. Joseph squad has dealt with a rash of injuries early and fell to a gritty South Summit squad last weekend.
At the top, Rowland Hall is currently the favorite. Central midfielder Robbie Hull is one of the classification's elite stars, and he's surrounded by excellent players like scorer Jared Accetura, Walker Adams and Donny White.
Once they finally get healthy, expect star midfielder Ben Cilwick and St. Joseph to fight neck-and-neck with Rowland Hall for the championship.Aside from those two, Christian Heritage has the potential to be pretty solid, South Summit plays a good brand of soccer and Richfield has been destroying people down South.
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