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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

DRAPER — They gather early in the morning to lift weights. They gather in the late afternoon to run sprints. The gather to watch film, learn plays, share ideas, talk trash and just navigate life.

And as the days grow shorter, the air cooler, high school football players everywhere are energized by the endless opportunities of fall.

To kick off the 2010 season, the Deseret News will feature a video countdown of the top 20 prep football teams. The rankings were determined by pre-season polls, and the project offers fans a unique glimpse of the top teams.

Today's featured team is No. 16 Juan Diego.

The defending 3A state champs enjoyed a storybook ending last season. Down by six, the Soaring Eagle were 31 yards from the end zone with 2.9 seconds on clock. The players said even they weren't sure they could over come the odds, but they admit the energy in that final huddle "just felt different."

It was a moment that taught the team's young players that nothing is impossible.

"Never give up until the clock says zero," said senior lineman Trevor Greene.

With most of last year's team lost to graduation, this year's squad has big shoes to fill.

I feel a lot of pressure," said Eric Heinz, senior tight end and inside linebacker. "We definitely have a bulls eye on our backs, but I like it. Bring it on."

The only head coach the program has ever had hopes the boys learn as much about being good, hard working men as they do about how to win a football game. The rare chances to use the lessons of practice only add to the affection football enjoys.

"What makes football unique is its scarcity," said coach John Colosimo. "There are no double headers or home and home games. It's that one game, once a week. You have one opportunity to beat that team."

Squandering an opportunity can haunt a team.

"You never get that chance again," he said. "You have to work very, very hard for hat one event. You'd better take advantage of those events. They become something very special."

e-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com