Christopher Onstott, The Spectrum
Pine View's Riley Dias (8) gets physical with Logan's Jake Gammill while deflecting a pass during the 3A championship game last spring. Dias will try to lead the Panthers to the 4A title this year.

It started out with a simple bet: Was soccer tougher than football?

Pine View's Riley Dias grew up playing football and basketball, and he scoffed at that notion when it was presented to him as a freshman by his older sister, Stari.

"She played (soccer) before me, and we were talkin' trash to each other in our living room," said Dias. "She said (soccer was harder than football), and I was like, 'No way."'

Fortunately for Pine View's soccer program, he put his money where his mouth was, and four years later, the senior has become one of the state's elite soccer players.

Last spring, Dias scored 23 times and finished as a first-team all-stater as the Panthers won their first boys soccer state championship in school history. Now, he's hoping to cap his stellar prep career by pacing Pine View to another successful season after making the jump from 3A to 4A.

According to first-year coach Sam Johnston, who was previously an assistant at Pine View, one of Dias' greatest assets has been his work ethic.

"He's a good player, and he works hard at it," said Johnston. "I think that's one of his strengths. There's a lot of good players out there that are good enough — and are happy enough being who they are. (But) he really works at it and in games never quits."

That clearly seems to be Dias' mantra. Though Pine View enjoyed unprecedented success a season ago, he wants more.

"Yeah, I'm not content at all," he said. "Last year, our team did look really good, but this year I wanna come out and do a lot better. Last year, I had a lot of chances I didn't capitalize on, and this year I wanna make up for it."

This coming from a guy who found the net a whopping 23 times in 2007.

Though 3A MVP Francisco Arellano and fellow standout Daniel Pimental may be gone, Dias still plans to get his name on the score sheet as frequently as he did last year.

"I know he's kind of hoping to have the same output as last year — a lot of our success will depend on that," said Johnston. "It's no secret. He's scored a lot of goals. It's hard to hide a guy that's scored a lot of goals and just say, 'Oh, he's just part of ... ' Nah, it's important for him to score a lot of goals for us. It's obvious."

Pine View, which successfully navigated a tricky preseason schedule with an unblemished record, will aim to show 4A schools this May that it can play.

A second-team all-stater in football, Dias was part of a Pine View squad that advanced all the way to the 4A title game last fall. With players like goalkeeper Francisco Martinez, Trey Ping and others surrounding him, Dias thinks that a run like that is possible in soccer.

"To be honest, I think that 4A's a tough classification," said Dias, who has already turned in his LDS mission papers and plans to leave shortly after graduation.

"In football, we came out and we just worked that much harder because we knew the competition was going to be better. And that's the same thing in soccer. If we step it up like we did in football, we should be able to compete with any team — and that means 4A, 5A. They're huge schools, but we have heart and work hard."

Region 9 boys soccer (Class 4A)

(Coaches' predicted order of finish)

1. PINE VIEW: Though the Panthers have moved up a classification, expectations are still extremely high at Pine View High. For those who don't believe it, Pine View is legit and should be regarded as a 4A contender. Prolific scorer Riley Dias will lead the way and has a talented supporting cast around him. GK Francisco Martinez, DF Johnathan Esplin, DF Ricardo Arreola and F Trey Ping are all proven commodities and should help smooth the transition to 4A. The Panthers have nine seniors. 2007 record: 18-1-1. Playoffs: 3A state champions.

2. DIXIE: To date, Dixie has basically played to expectations. The Flyers have beaten the teams they should've and have lost to the teams they should've. Through five games, Zac Hales has scored four goals, Wilfredo Hernandez has scored three and Garett Garcia and John Jensen have each added two. 2007 record: 11-5-2. Playoffs: Lost in 3A quarterfinals.

3. SNOW CANYON: The Warriors endured some pretty tough lumps during the preseason but opened league play with a 3-2 win over a spirited Hurricane bunch and will look to use that as a springboard. Michael Palacios has topped Snow Canyon's early scoring charts with three goals, and Snow Canyon will aim to have others step up. Assuming Pine View qualifies for the 4A tournament, the Warriors will battle with Dixie for Region 9's other postseason spot. 2007 record: 9-7-1. Playoffs: Lost in 3A first round.

Region 9 boys soccer (Class 3A)

(Coaches' predicted order of finish)

1. CEDAR: The Redmen started four freshmen and two sophomores in a Week 1 preseason contest against Park City, and youth and inexperience have reigned so far. Accordingly, expect returners Brett Johnson, Russell Mitchell and Scott Rogers to play particularly important roles. Cedar should be regarded as a fairly heavy favorite to win this league, though Hurricane could give the Redmen a run for their money. 2007 record: 6-9-2. Playoffs: Lost in quarterfinals.

2. HURRICANE: Hurricane has a new coach (Doug Katzenbach) and apparently a new attitude. The Tigers have admittedly been up-and-down throughout March, but they've shown signs of becoming a very good soccer team. Returning seniors Ben Holmes and Devin Campbell provide punch up top, and Chris LeBaron anchors the backline. 2007 record: 3-10-2. Playoffs: Did not qualify.

3. CANYON VIEW: The Falcons will aim to beat out Hurricane or Cedar for a spot in the 3A postseason. To date, Chase Kitteridge (3), Noe Soriano (2), Cody Pearson (1) and Brian Taylor (1) have each found the net for Canyon View. 2007 record: 2-12-2. Playoffs: Did not qualify.