I think there are several (title contenders). Knowing a lot of kids in the state, it would not be very smart to underestimate anyone at this point. —Herriman head coach Ryan Mitchell
The Herriman Mustangs will win the 6A boys soccer state championship.
Or maybe this year’s tourney will mimic the last, and the defending 5A champion Layton Lancers will repeat.
Perhaps the Pleasant Grove Vikings will take home the first title in program history, or it could be the Davis Darts add yet another trophy to their already cramped trophy case.
The Weber Warriors, the Granger Lancers, the Bingham Miners, the Copper Hills Grizzlies, the Westlake Thunder — the list of title contending teams in the 6A classification is long.
As a result, this year’s state tournament, which kicks off Tuesday across the state and concludes on May 24 at Rio Tinto Stadium, is stacking up to be one of the most competitive, and unpredictable, in recent memory.
“I think there are several (title contenders),” Herriman head coach Ryan Mitchell said. “Knowing a lot of kids in the state, it would not be very smart to underestimate anyone at this point.”
“We aren’t looking past anyone,” said Layton head coach Rick Talamantez. “Anyone that got into the tournament has the opportunity to move forward.”
“Anything can happen in soccer and anything can happen in the first round,” added Pleasant Grove head coach Chris Ecalono. “There seems to always be a No. 1 seed that goes down. We don’t want to be that one.”
The reason for the unpredictability of this year’s tourney stems from talent. Teams across the state are full of it.
“I know the kids from Pleasant Grove, they are really good,” said Mitchell. “Bingham has a really deep roster and the senior group at Granger won a state cup championship in club soccer.”
“Davis just brings a lot of intensity to their game,” added Talamantez. “They brought back several seniors, a veteran line. And Weber, again, are great defensively with their line.”
“American Fork has Nathan Mumford, who was the Player of the Year last year,” said Ecalono. “Westlake has 12 seniors that have been playing together since they were 7 or 8.”
If there is a favorite, however, it is the Mustangs.
Undefeated at 16-0-0, last year’s runners-up have been dominant all season. More importantly, they only have eyes for the state championship trophy.
“Last year, when we got our region trophy, everyone was ecstatic and wanted to take a picture with it,” said Mitchell. “This year the region trophy showed up and the boys didn’t care. They all want the big one. They are hungry this year. They are hungry for this.”
Just behind the Mustangs are the Region 1 trio of Layton, Weber and Davis. All three schools are ranked in the top five in the state and survived a difficult region gauntlet.
“Our region is one of the toughest in the state,” said Talamantez. “Every game was match. There weren’t any easy teams.”
The Vikings, meanwhile, fresh off their first region title since the ’90s, believe this is their year.
“We still feel like we haven’t played our best game yet, which is awesome,” said Ecalono. “I expected to win region and I expect us to win state.”
Overall, the sheer amount of talented teams should make this year's state tournament extremely competitive, not to mention entertaining.
“The stakes are enormous,” said Ecalono. “Every ball will be chased down, everything will be pressured. It’ll be as close to a collegiate soccer environment as you can get.”