Jordan is a really good football team, and so is everyone else we'll have to play in the coming weeks. Every year Brighton seems to be in the toughest region in the state, no matter what, and this year? Well, it might be the toughest we've ever had, which is saying something. —Brighton coach Ryan Bullett
Brighton coach Ryan Bullett has been coaching the Bengals for 12 years, yet he has difficulty thinking of an upcoming region schedule that looked as daunting as the one his Bengals are embarking upon.
Brighton (4-1) resides within a newly-formed Region 7, which houses four of top-10 ranked teams in the state, according to the Deseret News' rankings. The Bengals were sniffing a top-10 ranking until a 42-28 loss to Skyline set them back to No. 17, but they'll have a prime opportunity to make up some ground Friday when they take No. 10-ranked Jordan (4-1).
Getting by the Beetdiggers won't be easy, however, as will be the case with just about every other team Brighton will encounter in Region 7 play.
"Jordan is a really good football team, and so is everyone else we'll have to play in the coming weeks," Bullett said. "Every year Brighton seems to be in the toughest region in the state, no matter what, and this year? Well, it might be the toughest we've ever had, which is saying something."
Brighton will take on Jordan at home, and will face a prolific offense led by standout quarterback Crew Wakley, along with other standouts that have first-year Jordan coach Kaleo Teriipaia feeling good about his team's region chances, despite the brutal competition.
"I feel we're in the best region, not only for 5A but for 6A. But I like how we're playing and the work the kids have put in," Teriipaia said. "I thought coming in from coaching in college that I'd have to do a lot of motivating, with them being high school kids, but that hasn't been the case. Kids have been great preparing and we really feel ready for what's ahead of us."
As tough as Brighton and Jordan look on the early season, they don't even represent the top three teams in Region 7, at least according to the Deseret News' rankings.
The top-ranked team in Region 7, which is No. 3 Corner Canyon (4-0), kicks off region play by hosting No. 4 Timpview (4-1), a program which is well-accustomed to making deep runs while competing against top competition.
"We're a little dinged-up after playing a tough non-region schedule, so that's a concern, but we've gotten better since the start of the season. No question. But we're going to have to keep getting better to get through this region," said Timpview coach Cary Whittingham. "The stress now goes up because the games really matter, but also because of the competition level, which starts with a Corner Canyon team that is going to be a big test for us."
Timpview and Corner Canyon kick off Region 7 play on Thursday night.
The other Region 7 contest has No. 5-ranked Alta (2-2) traveling to take on Cottonwood (0-5.)
The downside to Region 7 is that one of the five highly-ranked teams will be on the outside looking in when postseason play begins. Only the top four teams from each region around the state qualify for the postseason, with all four qualifying Region 7 teams likely to make deep runs.
"You have to think that one of the four teams making it out of this region will have a great chance to be the state champion," Whittingham said. "There's obviously some great teams from the other regions, but considering the teams we have in our region, no one should be surprised if one of the teams coming out of this region wins it all."
"This is when it really gets fun," Bullett added. "This is the best time of the year, when the weather starts cooling down and the games really matter. This is what we coach for and what the players play for. I love this time and I'm excited to get it going against some of the toughest teams in the state."