One phrase comes to mind when summing up this year's Class 4A boys soccer tournament: Strength in numbers.
There isn't one clear-cut, can't-miss favorite in this year's field, though top-ranked Springville and No. 2 Bonneville could probably fit that billing in other seasons. Instead, however, there are a bunch of favorites.
You could argue that there is at least one team from all four Class 4A regions more than that in some instances capable of hoisting the classification's championship trophy at Woods Cross High Thursday, and that unusual depth should translate into some very interesting first-round matchups at home sites Wednesday.
On paper, Utah County's Region 7 has been the deepest of the four 4A regions this year, but that depth will be rigorously tested on Day 1.
Springville, with its flashy 14-2 record in tote, and highly regarded Mountain View do have home games, but none of Region 7's four teams have first-round cake-walks.
Springville will face a seasoned team from Region 5, Mountain View hosts tradition-laden Woods Cross, and the two lower-seeded teams No. 3 seed Timpview and No. 4 seed Orem face very difficult opponents.
Orem fell to the fourth spot in Region 7 after losing in OT to Timpview last Friday and, accordingly, the Tigers must face defending champ Bountiful in the opening round.
Bountiful has all the talent and ability to make it back to the 4A title game but hasn't put it all together up to this point. The same could be said of the Orem Tigers, who were up and down during the second half of league play.
On the other hand, Timpview didn't exactly earn an enviable prize by beating Orem to move up a seed. The T-Birds must travel on Day 1 to East to take on the 2006 state champs. The Leopards were very young at the start of this season but have steadily gotten better and have won their last eight games.
Looking at the rest of the first-round contests, there are several other interesting ones.
Mountain Crest and Olympus meet in a rematch of last year's first round. Mountain Crest had the Region 6 champs on the ropes in that game before losing in OT, and those two teams will square off again Wednesday.
Also, both games involving the St. George teams should be revealing. Snow Canyon hosts Cottonwood, while Highland travels to Pine View.Highland and Pine View could be surprise teams in this tournament. Pine View won last year's 3A championship before moving up to 4A, and though the Panthers endured some unexpected struggles during the regular season, they have their complete team back and will be tough for anybody to handle.