High school football: Brighton seeks 3-peat in balanced Region 6

During the past two years, Brighton has a 17-2 regular-season record but just one playoff win, which came in the 5A second round in 2020.

New head coach Casey Sutera has the full attention of his players as they look to prove they’re built for more than just regular-season success.

Sutera brings to Brighton a wealth of experience and success after five seasons as the defensive coordinator at Corner Canyon, which won three state championships during that stretch.

He’s optimistic that what he learned working under Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar will translate at Brighton.

“If I learned anything from coach (Kjar), it’s the process shines through,” said Sutera. “I think more mentality than Xs and Os, what are those little mentality things that will take us to the next step to where we’re going to start winning playoff games and playing deep into November.”

Brighton showed a winning mentality in winning the region title a year ago with four of its five region wins being decided by one score. It laid a massive egg in the playoffs though as it was crushed by Orem 42-22 in the first round, a game that wasn’t even that close as it trailed 28-0 at the half.

Eight of Brighton’s offensive starters are back from last year’s team, and could see great success right away as the offense isn’t changing too much under Sutera. The defensive schemes are changing drastically, which may ultimately benefit the team down the road.

While Brighton proved it could win the close region games a year ago, East consistently didn’t as the Region 6 favorites from last year finished fifth with a 3-3 record in region play.

The two biggest heartbreakers for East were losing to Park City 24-23 on a missed extra point with 1:30 remaining in the game, and then giving up two touchdowns to Brighton in the final 2:33 to lose 35-28.

The result was the first losing season for East since 2014.

“It was just a weird year, I don’t want to do that again,” said East coach Brandon Matcih, who’s entering his 13th season with the program. “Last year was hard, hard, hard. I knew we were under-talented a little bit and we were really young, but having youth and not having great leadership at the top was not beneficial for success.”

Despite all that, East started putting things together late in the season and then won two playoff games to reach the quarterfinals. It turned it over seven times though against Stansbury and lost 21-7.

Matich said every starter returns from that late stretch but his QB, which has East’s coach excited about the potential of his team.

“Having this veteran O-line that knows what they’re doing is crazy. They remind me of 2016 when they just kind of ran the show. They just get off the ball, they make the calls and they understand defensive scheme and they spend a lot of time in the film room, and they like each other,” said Matich.

East also returns nine starters defensively, which combined with the offensive experience, has the Leopards poised for a big bounce-back year as they were pegged as the region favorite by the Region 6 coaches.

Sandwiched between first-place Brighton a year ago and fifth-placed East was a three-way logjam between Olympus, Skyline and Park City, who all tied for second with 4-2 region records.

Park City had a chance to earn a share of the region title along with Brighton, but lost to Skyline 10-6 on the final day of the regular season. It exacted a little revenge in the first round of the playoffs against Skyline as it scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to prevail 27-10.

With six starters returning on offense, including some outstanding skill position players, and nine on defense, Park City should be smack dab in the thick of the region race once again.

Skyline second-year coach John Rowbotham also returns with a fairly full cupboard of returning starters on both sides of the ball. His team was in a lot of low-scoring, defensive games in region play a year ago, and the next step for the program will be more consistency offensively.

Olympus won four of five region titles from 2015 to 2019, but has taken a backseat to Brighton each of the past two seasons. Ironically enough, Olympus beat Brighton in Week 5 last season, but then lost convincing to East and Park City the next two weeks. The Titans regrouped and beat Skyline in the regular season finale, but bowed out of the playoffs in the second round to Stansbury.

Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead is optimistic this year’s team will show more consistency in the big moments.

“There’s strong leadership with this group, and it starts with our quarterback Chase Mosely. He’s just a junior but his leadership ability is strong, and he has an incredible ability to read the secondary and read the defense,” said Whitehead.

He said he can’t wait to see how his players perform, especially when the competitive grind of Region 6 gets underway.

“Each week is going to take our very best to prepare for it,” said Whitehead.

Region 6 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. East Leopards

2022 schedule

Head coach: Brandon Matich

Entering his 13th season as head coach at East, where he’s tallied a 109-44 record and two state titles (2015, 2016). Previously he coached at Park City for five seasons from 2005 to 2009, with a 39-18 record and semifinal appearances in 2008 and 2009. His career record is 148-62. He’s a graduate of Brighton High School and the University of Utah.

Offensive coordinator: Brandon Matich

2021 offense: 26.8 ppg (No. 16 in 5A)

Eleven returning startersOption offense

Returning offensive starters

Amini Amone, Sr., RBJerrick Little, Sr., RBSione Vailahi, Sr., SlotOmar Shah, Sr., RBMatt Fredrick, Sr., TEChase Barker, Sr., WRJonny Brambilia, Sr., LTBen Blake, Jr., LGSailose Amone, Sr., CenterVaka Patetefa, JR., RGSekope Wallace, Jr., RTSiona Vailahi, Jr., QB

Key offensive newcomers

Tucker McCormick, Jr., QBJohn Amone, So., RBZion Andresen, Sr. OT/TEJunior Kaufusi, Jr., TENunu Fonua, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Gary Bowers

2021 defense: 23.3 ppg (No. 13 in 5A)

Nine returning startersMultiple defenses

Returning defensive starters

Omar Shah, Sr., LBNaisa Puletau, Jr., LBSpencer Black, Sr. S/CBChase Barker, Sr., CBJJ Fredrick, Sr., SSam Tuai, Jr., DEZion Andreasen, Sr., D.Mack Lavao, Sr., DTNunu Fonua, Jr., OLB, S

Key defensive newcomers

Damian Otukolo, Jr., SJunior Kaufusi, Jr., DEPapa Matelau, Jr., DT

2. Olympus Titans

2022 schedule

Head coach: Aaron Whitehead

Now entering his 12th season as head coach at Olympus, posting an 83-41 record the past 11 years. His previous stint as a head coach was at East from 2003 to 2007, where his teams went 39-21. He’s a graduate of Skyline High and the University of Utah.

Coach Aaron Whitehead’s general outlook

I am excited about the level of enthusiasm this year’s group has created heading into the season. Olympus has a great culture for winning in all of its programs. We have returning starters that have won a state title in basketball, as well as returning starters that have played in state championship baseball and lacrosse games this past year. If we stay healthy, we feel we can create some noise come late fall.

Offensive coordinator: Aaron Whitehead

2021 offense: 23.9 ppg (No. 20 in 5A)

Five returning startersMultiple set offense

Returning offensive starters

Nash Taylor, Jr., WRLuke Bryant, Jr., AthCharlie Sherwood, Sr., WRJackson Godfrey, Sr., TBJo Johnson, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

Chase Moseley, Jr., QBLuke Rasch, Sr., TEIsaac Greene, Sr., TE/WRMax Harmer, So., OLNick Green, Sr., HBHannes Glasker, Sr., WRCaden Lloyd, So., Ath

Defensive coordinator: Brandon Burt

Olympus defense: 23.2 ppg (No. 12 in 5A)

Three returning startersEven front defense

Returning defensive starters

Jo Johnson, Sr., DTNash Taylor, Jr., DBJackson Godfrey, Sr., LB

Key defensive newcomers

Ty Seagle, Jr., DBNic Brown, Jr., DBLuke Rasch, Sr., DEIsaac Greene, Sr., DEDre Leota, Sr., LBJarom Gilbert, Jr., DBLuke Bryant, Jr., DBHannes Glasker, Sr., DEWeston Olsen, Jr., LB

3. Brighton Bengals

2022 schedule

Head coach: Casey Sutera

After a very successful five-year stint as Corner Canyon’s defensive coordinator, Sutera enters his first-ever year as a head coach. He’s a graduate of Murray High School and the University of Utah.

Coach Casey Sutera’s general outlook

Coach Hemm did a great job establishing a culture the last few years at Brighton High School and we are looking to continue to build on that. The players have been putting a lot of work with our strength and conditioning program since March and we are excited to see how that will translate to the field. We have quite a few players that contributed last season and we will look to their leadership through out this season.

Offensive coordinator: Josiah Price

2021 offense: 34.7 ppg (No. 7 in 5A)

Eight returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Dylan Olsen, Sr., OLNate Vyfvinkel, Sr., OLBrady Simonsen, Sr., OLJack Johnson, Jr., QBKace Gurr, Sr., RBQuincy Covington, Sr., WRNash Matheson, Jr., WREaston Smith, Jr., WR

Key offensive newcomers

Owen Schmel, Sr., WR/TEWalt Raddon, Sr., OLMyles Peters, Jr., WR/TEJacob Waldron, Sr., OLBen Henriquez, Jr., OLSam Perry, Sr., WR

Defensive coordinator: Frankie Sutera

2021 defense: 20.6 ppg (No. 10 in 5A)

Five returning startersMultiple defenses

Returning defensive starters

Mana Nonu, Sr., DLKava Taufa, Sr., DLDevin Roberts, Jr., DE/LBDane Merhish, Sr., LBJace Matheson, Sr., DBSiale Ofa, Jr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Caden Beames, Sr., DBAleki Tenifa, Sr., DLSione Ofa, Sr., DE/LBKai Fuertes, Jr., DBKai Beck, Jr., DBJarom Tapusoa, Jr., LBAndrew Wood, Jr., LBMiles Morgan, Jr., LBMarcus Gill, Soph., DLVilami Moala, Fr., DL

4. Park City Miners

2022 schedule

Head Coach: Josh Montzingo

Entering his seventh season at Park City, where his teams have posted a 46-27 record the past five years and a state runner-up finish last season. He’s a graduate of Edmonds Woodway High School in Washington and North Park University in Illinois.

Coach Josh Montzingo’s general outlook

We return a lot of skill positions this season and excited to see the team compete for a second season in 5A. Looking forward to the tough battles in our difficult region the incredible competition it provides. While we have alot of “big shoes to fill” with the loss of some key seniors, we are confident the returning players will be ready for the challenge. There will be some key battles for positions this summer, especially on offense. Everyone, including returning starters, are ready to compete all summer!

Offensive coordinator: Wyatt Evenson

2021 offense: 26.4 ppg (No. 18 in 5A)

Six returning startersAir Raid offense

Returning offensive starters

Joseph Eldridge, Sr., WRWill McCurdy, Jr., WRBen Beatty, Jr., OLMatt Demarco, Sr., WRChase Beyer, Sr., QBBlake Tabarraci, Jr., QB/RB

Key offensive newcomers

Max Grizzell, Sr., QB (In a battle with Chase Beyer for a starting spot)Mason Grover, Sr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Josh Montzingo

2021 defense: 20.3 ppg (No. 8 in 5A)

Nine returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Ben Beatty, Jr., DLJack Ronin, Sr., DL.Brayden Beyer, Sr., LBChandler Kelsch, Sr., LBBlake Tabarraci, Jr., LBJack Stouffer, Sr., DBCarson Baynes, Sr., DBMiles Preston, Sr., DBCarson Navarro, Jr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

5. Skyline Eagles

2022 schedule

Head coach: John Rowbotham

Entering his second season as head coach at his alma mater after last year’s 6-5 debut season. He’s a graduate of Pacific Lutheran College in Washington.

Coach John Rowbotham’s general outlook

We have a great group of student/athletes who are working very hard and having fun prepping for a great 2022 Season.

Offensive coordinator: Robby Kaelin

2021 offense: 20.3 ppg (No. 26 in 5A).

Seven returning starters.RPO offense.

Returning offensive starters

Jared Prince, Sr., OL.Oliver Bridge, Jr., OLKarson Kaufusi, So., OLMiles Hall, Sr., WRPorter Brockman, Sr., RBAaron Jones, Sr., WRThayne Sedgwick, Sr

Defensive coordinator: Andy Selcho

2021 defense: 20.5 ppg (No. 9 in 5A)

Six returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Miles Hall, Sr., OLBBo Tate, Jr., ILBRayce Walker-Adams, Jr., SMiles Parker, Jr., DLLuke Wright, Sr., CBJosh Calvert, Sr., OLB

6. Highland Rams

2022 schedule

Head coach: Kautai Olevao

Olevao is entering his second season as head coach at Highland High School after a debut 1-8 season. He’d previously served as an assistant for six years. He’s a graduate of Kahuku High School in Hawaii and the University of Utah.

2021 offense: 11.2 ppg (No. 31 in 5A)

2021 defense: 32.6 ppg (No. 27 in 5A)

Additional info not provided

7. Murray Spartans

2022 schedule

Head coach: Todd Thompson

Thompson is entering his sixth season as head coach at Murray, with his teams posting a 20-32 record over that span. He’s a graduate of Murray High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Todd Thompson’s general outlook

We have some returners from last years team that have shown great progress, and a lot of athletes that started games later in the year that will give them valuable experience this year, the question will be depth, last year we had a small group of lineman, this year we have doubled the size of our lineman group and should be able to platoon, looking forward to watch my guys compete and play.

Offensive coordinator: Todd Thompson

2021 offense: 21.6 ppg (No. 24 in 5A)

One returning startersMultiple offenses

Returning offensive starters

Key offensive newcomers

Jack Jensen, Sr., QBAidan Walbridge, Sr., WR/FBKayden Racine, Jr., WRBrock Perry, Jr., RBChayson Gale, Sr., OLLogan Walton, Jr., C

Defensive coordinator: Ashley Mcswain

2021 defense: 35.4 ppg (No. 30 in 5A)

Two returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Aidan Walbridge, Sr., SS

Eli Cushing, Sr., MLB

Key defensive newcomers

Thanasi Johnson, Jr., OLB

Karson Thompson, Sr., DE

Liam Pipes, Jr., CB

Joshua Boulden, Sr., FS

Joey McCaskell, OLB/DE

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