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Depth, continuity make Park City the favorite in Region 10 amid much of shake-up

Mark McCurdy, Park City James Edward
Tommy Christopherson, Stansbury James Edward
Nukuluve Helu James Edward
Jayce Anderson, Uintah James Edward
Hovanel Palacios, Ogden Trent Wood, Deseret News
Anthony Flores, Ben Lomond Trent Wood, Deseret News
Jaxon Hooley, Cedar Valley Brandon Gurney
Duce Anderson Brandon Gurney

Without a Region 10 team in the Deseret News top five preseason 4A coaches rankings, it's easy forget that it was Park City and not anybody from Cache Valley that was actually in the semifinals last year.

The two years prior, it was region foe Stansbury that qualified for the semifinals.

So while Region 10 may not have gotten the same preseason love as the other two regions in the revamped 4A classification, it's a mistake to disregard the region. Collectively it's the weakest of the three 4A regions, but there's still plenty of intrigue.

While Park City and Stansbury are the unquestioned favorites and the two most likely to be competitive against the other regions, there are a couple of other teams that, if things go right, will be in the hunt as well. Mountain View and Ogden are both coming off great seasons by recent standards and hope to take the next step as a program.

Tooele is hoping for a bounce back with new coach Andru Jones. New school Cedar Valley may struggle early as most first-year schools do, but by midseason it might be able to contend for a top four finish with a talented young squad.

Neither Uintah nor Ben Lomond won a game last year, but they are two programs optimistic about being more competitive in Region 10.

Park City is oozing with optimism with a bunch of returning starters from last year's team that upset undefeated Sky View in the quarterfinals.

"Expectations are pretty high, from our own selves, to the community to the football community at large. I think we'll have more of a target on our back than we've had in the past. We're not sneaking up on anyone anymore. That's OK," said Park City coach Josh Montzingo.

Park City was the king of winning close games at the end of last season, including beating Salem Hills 28-24 in the first round and Sky View 15-14 in the quarterfinals.

Developing that late-game mentality didn't happen overnight, but now that his team has that winning mentality, Montzingo is excited about a season in which he has all five starters back on the offensive line.

Stansbury actually beat Park City quite comfortably in the regular season last year, but ended up sharing the region title after a surprising October loss to Bonneville.

The Stallions won't look anything like last year's team, though. Eric Alder is taking over as head coach and switching the offensive scheme from a triple option to a spread. The triple option under Clint Christiansen is all the program has ever known the past decade, but that is about to change.

Alder said the kids have been very receptive to the change.

"Like I told them from the beginning, it's a new scheme both offensively and defensively, but football is football. It comes down to you play with great effort, you execute and you make plays. If you do those things, anything is going to work," said Alder.

Stansbury's county rival Tooele is also undergoing a coaching change as Andru Jones takes over the program. The Buffaloes have dealt with back-to-back losing seasons, but there's excitement surrounding the team, especially with a returning starter at quarterback and running back.

"We have a lot of skill guys this year. We should be just fine. We are in the mix of putting a new defense and offense in right now. We have great kids and they love competing to get better," said Jones.

As Stansbury and Tooele go through a transition, there's surprising stability at Mountain View and Ogden.

Mountain View returns eight offensive starters and five defensive starters from a team that won five games last year, its most wins since 2010.

"I feel really good about the kids we have coming back this year, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We have really good leadership on this team. These guys want to win and have a great attitude and work ethic. I am excited to see what this season will bring," said coach Tyler Anderson.

Ogden won six games last year, its most wins since 2009.

"Last year we had the best record Ogden has had in the last 30 years and we beat Bonneville and Ben Lomond for the first time in a long time," said coach Erik Thompson. "These guys are trying hard to carry that on."

Improved overall defense will be key for Ogden to take the next step as a program and try to win a playoff game.

Nobody knows quite what to expect from first-year school Cedar Valley, but coach Weston Zabriskie brings a lot of experience to the program after serving as head coach at South Sevier the past nine years.

Deseret News projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)

1. PARK CITY: Was a surprise 4A semifinalist last year, but nothing would be surprising about a repeat as Park City returns nine starters on offense and six on defense. Offensively things start in the trenches as Coco Lukrich, John Lanigan, Jimmy Williams, Travis Hobbs and Nick Williams are all returning starters on the O-line. Jack Skidmore returns at QB, as does returning first team all-state receiver Mark McCurdy. Lukrich was named the region defensive MVP at defensive line as a sophomore last year and huge things are expected this year. Chase Johansen led Park City in tackling last year and is one of three returners at linebacker. 2018 RECORD: 9-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Dixie 20-0 in 4A semifinals.

2. STANSBURY: The defense may have to carry the load early this season as an inexperienced offense learns a new scheme. Paepaeseu Tia, Payton Diderickson and Jordan Snow are all returning starters at linebacker, while Kru Huxford, Gabe Harris and Tommy Christopherson return in the secondary. The only full-time returning starter on offense is O-lineman Andrew Hanson. Tommy Christopherson was a role player at running back, but everyone's tasks are changing this year as Stansbury switches to a spread offense after a decade running the triple option. 2018 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Pine View 65-41 in 4A quarterfinals.

3. TOOELE: After back-to-back losing seasons, Andru Jones takes over as head coach in hopes of getting the program back on track. He inherits a talented squad with a decent amount of experience. Kulani Iongi returns at QB after passing for 1,494 yards last year and bigger things are expected this season. Nukuluve Helu rushed for 941 yards and 16 TDs last year and he should easily eclipse 1,000 yards during his senior year, assuming a young offensive line comes together. Jared Jackson is the lone returning starter in trenches. Helu and Gave Ware anchor the defense at linebacker, two of four starters back on that side of the ball. 2018 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Orem 68-12 in 4A first round.

4. MOUNTAIN VIEW: Coming off its first mildly successful season in quite a while, expectations are pretty high for the Bruins this year. Led by returning starting QB Duce Anderson, there are eight starters back on offense. That includes offensive linemen Grant Hatch, Ryley Horrocks, Kam Pilialoha and Alex Stutz. That stability in the trenches will benefit running back McKay Strauss. The strength of the defense could be in the trenches as well with returning starters Elwood Afalava, Chris Esparza and Inoke Fonohema. 2018 RECORD: 5-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Stansbury 57-43 in 4A first round.

5. OGDEN: A year after qualifying for the playoffs, the Tigers hope six returning starters on defense helps them compete in a region against similar opponents. Leading the way defensively are returning linebackers Cisco Cuevas, Kaydin Olivieri, Logan Shobe and Isaac Wilson. A big season is also expected from defensive end Izayah Shabazz. Shobe will be a key contributor on offense at running back along with returning starter Chase Butler. They should benefit from experience on the line with Hovanel Palacios and Karson Payne. 2018 RECORD: 6-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Spanish Fork 58-22 in 4A first round.

6. UINTAH: Has a quality junior class as it looks to bounce back from an 0-9 season. Depth is still a concern and it will need to rely on sophomores at several spots, but physically it should be better prepared to compete. Offensively there are eight returning starters, led by lineman Jacob Schneider, Derek Tenny and Nick Bernard. Carter Smith takes over at QB and has some solid receiver weapons in Riggs Anderson and Jeff Shope, along with tight end Jayce Anderson. There are just four starters back on defense, led by Jadon Horrocks, Dylan Swift and Riggs Anderson at linebacker. 2018 RECORD: 0-9. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify

7. CEDAR VALLEY: The Aviators should be competitive in their first season in Region 10. Jaxon Hooley is slated to start at QB in the spread offense, while Jaxson Dastrup and Gage Olsen will be two of his top targets to throw to. AJ Lindsay heads into the season as one of the top running threats behind an offensive line anchored by Zealand Acherman. Defensively Eramus Laititi will anchor the line while Gustavo Diaz will be a key contributor at linebacker. 2018 RECORD: New school

8. BEN LOMOND: Lyndon Johnson takes over as head coach and is shaking things up offensively and defensively in an effort to help the program improve upon back-to-back winless seasons. There's minimal returning experience to help in the process. Xavier Garcia is a returning starter on the offensive and defensive line while Brady Walling is also back on the O-line. Anthony Flores is a returning starter at wide receiver and in the secondary. 2018 RECORD: 0-10. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.