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High school football: Region 5 favorite Bountiful hoping to continue recent upward trajectory

Over the last four seasons, the Bountiful football program has increased its win total each year. From just four wins in 2018 to an 8-3 2021 season, the Redhawks have risen steadily and consistently — a trend that they’ll hope to continue this upcoming season.

Five of Bountiful’s eight wins last year came in an undefeated Region 5 campaign, and coaches projections have it winning the region once again this season.

The pick to win the region crown comes despite the fact that the Redhawks return only seven of 22 starters. Bountiful head coach Jason Freckleton said the projections reflect the respect that the rest of the region has for his team because “they do things the right way.”

Though they don’t have many returning starters, the starters they do return were valuable to the Redhawks’ success last season. One of those returners is senior running back and safety Corbin Cottle, who finished second on the team in tackles (63) while rushing for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns on 8.9 yards per carry. 

While Cottle’s return will provide a boost on both sides of the ball, Freckleton said it’s the senior’s leadership that will be just as valuable for a squad that will need its newcomers to step up. 

“Corbin’s greatest strength is his team-first mentality,” Freckleton said.

“When you have someone on your team like that, who’s a leader and a motivator, it brings out the better side of his teammates and brings confidence to them. … I just can’t overemphasize how much we appreciate his ability to lead and be a team-first guy because he has the talent to be all about himself, but he’s not.”

Freckleton did note that while the Redhawks may not return plenty of starters, many of the returning players did see consistent game time last season as rotational players, and he feels confident that they’ll be able to handle larger roles this year.

Unlike Bountiful, the second team in the Region 5 projections, Box Elder, returns the bulk of its contributors on both sides of the ball.

The Bees return 17 of 22 starters from last year’s squad that went just 4-8, and while they couldn’t string together plenty of wins, they accumulated valuable experience that they’ll look to cash in on this season.

Box Elder head coach Robbie Gunter said his team’s strong finish to last season — which featured an upset win over Tooele in the first round of the playoffs — showed what the group might be able to accomplish this season.

“We had a lot of kids who were maybe forced to play a bit early last year, and they struggled a bit,” Gunter said. “But as the season went on, those kids got better each week and we got better each week. The hope is, as we come into the season with a lot of the same guys, that they’ll continue to compete.”

The jump will be a significant one for the Bees if projections end up coming true, but it certainly won’t come as a surprise to their Region 5 opponents.

Bonneville, which finished with just one region loss (Bountiful) last season, came in just behind Box Elder in the poll.

The Lakers will have plenty of holes to fill, especially at quarterback where they lose Koy Dixon’s 31 total touchdowns from last year. Junior Jaxon Johnson and sophomore Cole Lueders will compete for the bulk of the quarterback snaps this season.

With only two starters on the defensive side of the ball, the Lakers will need their newcomers to step up if they hope to finish above .500 for the fourth straight season.

Woods Cross, coming off an 0-10 2021 season, was picked to finish fourth and is expected to make strides with the majority of its starters coming back for an opportunity to secure the wins that evaded them last year. 

Viewmont and new head coach Andru Jones came in at fifth in the poll. The Vikings will likely go as far as dynamic senior quarterback Luke Jacobs can take them, but they have the talent returning to potentially make a run this season. 

Northridge took the final spot in the preseason projections after finishing 7-4 in 2021. With plenty of starters returning from last year, it appears that the coaches think the departure of quarterback Maximus Fonoti-Maikui — who had arguably the best statistical season of any Region 5 signal-caller last year — will be a significant one for the Knights to overcome.

There’s plenty of questions to be answered within Region 5 this season, but according to Gunter, one thing’s for certain: whoever finishes atop the region’s standings will be the team that stayed locked-in each and every week of the season.

“In this region, every week is so important,” Gunter said.

“No matter if you lost and feel like it’s the end of the world, or you won and feel like you’re on top of the world, come Monday you better be ready to get ready for the next game. That’s something that (teams) will have to do to get over the top.”

Region 5 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Bountiful Redhawks

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jason Freckleton. In two seasons as Bountiful’s head coach he’s posted a 15-8 record, including a region title in 2021, the school’s first time in nine years. He previously was an assistant at Bountiful for 10 years. He’s a graduate of Bountiful and Weber State University.

Coach Jason Freckleton’s general outlook: We have an exciting group that has been working hard to get ready for the season. While we have a couple of key returning starters that got great experience last season, we will rely on players from all age groups to step into big roles. We will be a team that plans to play fast and physical and build on the traditions of Bountiful football.

Offensive coordinator: Jason Freckleton

2021 offense: 31.5 ppg (No. 10 in 5A)

Three returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Corbin Cottle, Sr., RBOwen Geilman, Sr., QBLondon Wood, Jr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

Faletau Satuala, Jr., WR/QBSam Stevenson, Sr., WRSage Judd, Sr., OLRoman Groves, Sr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Jason Walker

2021 defense: 17.8 ppg (No. 4 in 5A)

Four returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Corbin Cottle, Sr., SFaletau Satuala, Jr., SJacob Brooks, Jr., OLBRhett Smith, Sr., ILB

Key defensive newcomers

Kaden Mertz, Sr., ILBBrig Morrison, Jr., ILBRussell Smith, Sr., OLBForrest Socci, Sr., DLLJ Felila, Sr., DLBen Smith, Jr., CB

2. Box Elder Bees

2022 schedule

Head coach: Robbie Gunter. Gunter is entering his 20th straight season as a coach in Utah and 14th at Box Elder guiding the program to a 66-80 record over the past 13 years. He previously spent six years at Viewmont leading the Vikings to a 36-29 record during that span. He’s a graduate of Idaho’s Marsh Valley High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Robbie Gunter’s general outlook: We have a lot of experience returning from last season. We finished the season strong and our guys have been working hard in the offseason and have been successful in their other sports, most of our players compete in at least one other sport. We have a few players that are going to be starting for us for the third season. As always our seniors are excited to wear the purple and white and leave their legacy on Box Elder Football. Region 5 is always competitive and for us to win we will have to develop depth and be consistent every week. With the importance of the RPI it will require us to play great every week.

Offensive coordinator: Jake Hanes

2021 offense: 19.3 ppg (No. 27 in 5A)

Eight returning startersWing-T offense

Returning offensive starters

Brandon Witt, Sr., OLKash Owens, Sr., OLNorman Morrill, Sr., OLTallin Chappell, Sr., TEAJ Bushnell, Jr., WRCooper Stevenson, Sr., QBEaston White, Sr., RBDax Sumko, Jr., RB

Key offensive newcomers

Mason Jeppsen, Jr., RB/WRBraylon Majors, Sr., WRRyan Griffin, Jr., QBDylan Riggs, Jr., OLCody Kaleikini, So., OL

Defensive coordinator: Travis Mumford

Box Elder defense: 27.5 ppg (No. 20 in 5A)

Nine returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Tallin Chappell, Sr., DLJackson McKee, Sr., DLBrock Bissegger, Jr., DLKeaton Jeppsen, Sr., LBMason Jeppsen, Jr., LBCooper Stevenson, Sr., SDavid Lucatero, Sr., SAndrew Clifford, Sr., CBCole Mortensen, Sr., S

Key defensive newcomers

3. Bonneville Lakers

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jantz Afuvai. The Bonneville alum is entering his 10th season as head coach, amassing a 37-56 record over the past nine years. He’s a graduate of Weber State University.

Coach Jantz Afuvai’s general outlook: The Lakers are excited to compete this fall. We have a lot of new faces and talent we hope to exploit and continue to build on the successes from the past couple of seasons. We have several young, talented young men who look to be fun to watch for the next couple of years.

Offensive coordinator: Lance Mimnaugh

2021 offense: 28.2 ppg (No. 14 in 5A)

Four returning startersSpread/multiple offenses

Returning offensive starters

Kena Kailiponi, Sr., OGSime Havili, Sr., RBGavin Pelagio-Williams, Sr., YMax Diaz, Jr., WR

Key offensive newcomers

Isaac Mansaray, So., WRTifaga Havili, Jr., RBJaxon Johnson, Jr., QBCole Lueders, So., QBLevi Olsen, Jr., WR

Defensive coordinator: Jantz Afuvai

2021 defense: 26.2 ppg (No. 17 in 5A)

Two returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Kena Kailiponi, Sr., MLBSime Havili, Sr., OLB

Key defensive newcomers

Case Wayman, Jr., DTKaleb Cook, Jr., DETristan Callahan, Jr., DTMason Tanner, Jr., DBEli Neff, Sr., DT

4. Woods Cross Wildcats

2022 schedule

Head coach: Brody Benson. Entering his second season at Woods Cross after an 0-10 debut season last year. Previously, he had a successful 15-year run as coach at Highland, where his teams went 116-50 with a state title in 2010. He’s a graduate of Granger High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Brody Benson’s general outlook: We are excited to get back on the field. We have been working very hard this offseason. Our team has shown good leadership and growth in both the classroom and the weight room. We are changing the culture at Woods Cross and our young men are understanding that “Hard Work Works.” We return quite a few guys up front and they should lead this team. We have good competition in many positions and guys are fighting for spots and pushing each other.

Offensive coordinator: Casey Parks

2021 offense: 7.1 ppg (No. 33 in 5A)

Eight returning startersFlex Bone offense

Returning offensive starters

Jonah Suliafu, Jr., CAlvin Puefua, Jr., GJosh Thor, Sr., GClarence Pututau, Jr., OTBrock Tandy, Sr., WRJosh Bennion, Sr., WR/TEKelvan Malepeai, Jr., RBCash Henderson, Jr., FBBradley Bailey, Sr., QBLock Smoot, Jr., QB

Key offensive newcomers

Jacob Howes, Jr., RBRyan Moss, Jr., WRTema Ita, Sr., WR

Defensive coordinator: Chris Haning

2021 defense: 31.2 ppg (No. 25 in 5A)

Seven returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Jonah Suliafu, Jr., DLClarence Pututau, Jr., DLAlvin Puefua, Jr., DLCash Henderson, Jr., MLBJosh Bennion, Sr., OLBKelvan Malepeai, Jr., OLBBrock Tandy, Sr., CBParker Burden, Sr., CB

Key defensive newcomers

Jacob Howes, Jr., CBCarter Freestone, Jr., SSLock Smoot, Jr., SSWill Bahr, Sr., LB/DETema Ita, Sr., DEIsaac Johnson, Jr., FSCash Sudbury, Jr., LBBoone Wariner, Sr., DE

5. Viewmont Vikings

2022 schedule

Head coach: Andru Jones. Heading into his first season as head coach at Viewmont after previous stints at Tooele (2019-2021) and Layton Christian (2016-2018). His career record in his previous six years as head coach is 29-34. He’s a graduate of Northridge High School and Grand Canyon University.

Coach Andru Jones’s general outlook: We are very excited about this team we have few returning guys from 2021 football team that will help us with this season. We have ton of multiple athletes that came out for football this year, which helps us become a lot more athlete. We are very excited to see this football season unfold.

Offensive coordinators: Andru Jones/Joe Jessop

2021 offense: 23.9 ppg (No. 21 in 5A)

Six returning startersMultiple offenses

Returning offensive starters

Luke Jacobs, Sr., QBPorter Randall, Sr., OLHunter Session, Sr., OLElias Uesele, Sr., RBCole Mudrow, Sr., TEMiles McGrath, Sr., RB

Key offensive newcomers

Scott Noel, Sr., WRKaden Mitchell, Sr., WREzekiel Cook, So., OL

Defensive coordinator: Jared Barnes

2021 defense: 29.8 ppg (No. 24 in 5A)

Eight returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Cole Mudrow, Sr., DLTu’uanga Moala, Sr., DLSterling Hansen, Sr., DLDegan LeRoy, Sr., SRyan Lockhart, Sr., LBJet Wiles, Sr., LBNathan Savage, Sr., SPresley Gubler, Sr., CB

Key defensive newcomers

Kingston Mickens, So., CBEzekiel Cook, So., DLDaren Tovey, So., S

6. Northridge Knights

2022 schedule

Head coach: Andrew Fresques. Fresques is entering his third season as coach at his alma mater after posting an 7-14 record the previous two years. He spent the previous three seasons as coach at Woods Cross, where his teams posted a 17-16 record. He’s a graduate of the University of Utah.

Coach Andrew Fresques’s general outlook: Very excited for the 2022 football season. Have a great bunch of student-athletes who are working hard.

Offensive coordinator: Andrew Fresques

2021 offense: 35.6 ppg (No. 6 in 5A)

Eight returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

A.J. Tillman, Sr., RBZach Smith, Jr., TEOwen Viner, Sr., OL.Malikai Williams, Sr., WRPayson Schmidt, OLEaston Gertge, Sr., WRTriston Spicer, Sr., OLJJ Speredon, Jr. OL

Key offensive newcomers

Seth Nowlin, Sr., RBMason Obray, Sr., WRJaxon Fresques, So., W.Blake Jonas, Jr., OLMalu Lumpkins, So., WRJaxon Fessler, Sr., OLHudson Heywood, Jr., WRChristian Charles, Jr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Mike Murphy

2021 defense: 25.4 ppg (No. 14 in 5A)

Six returning startersMultiple defenses

Returning defensive starters

Mason Obray, Sr., DBColton Stokes, Sr., LBEaston Gertge, Sr., DBPayson Schmidt, Sr., DLJaxon Fresques, So., DBJJ Speredon, Jr., DL

Key defensive newcomers

Jacob Unger, DLQuinn Evans, LBSeth Nowlin, LBHudson Heywood, DBPorter Olsen, DBJake Benzley, DBAnthony Martinez, So., DB

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