High school football: Riverton seeks 3-peat in Region 3

Heading in the 2022 season, Riverton and Bingham are tied atop the Region 3 preseason coaches rankings, just as they finished tied in the standings a year ago.

Herriman, meanwhile, looks to bounce back after a tough year last year and Mountain Ridge continues to improve off of strong start as a new school.

West Jordan and Copper Hills wrap up what expects to be one of the deepest regions in the state.

The Silverwolves, who are striving for their first outright region title in school history, are coming off a campaign that saw them beat Bingham in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003.

Despite the feat, the Silverwolves let a couple games slide away, including a disappointing loss to West Jordan.

“2021 is 2021, this is 2022,” Riverton head coach Jody Morgan said.

“For the guys that played last year, we saw how fun it was to really be in it. If we can keep in mind what made us successful last year and also learn from it, this team will be committed to the grind.”

The same schedule awaits the team, including four preseason games that feature Syracuse (who enters the season as a top 10 team in 6A), Pleasant Grove, Springville and a trip to Dixie.

“We know that those four teams are going to be better than when we played them last year,” Morgan said. “We have a really good preseason to get us ready going into region play.”

The Silverwolves finished top-10 on both sides of the ball in 6A last year. Offensively, they’ll rely on Jake Meyers, who split time at quarterback last year but will be given full control of the offense going into this season.

“Jake, he has to beat teams with his mind, but he has got whatever the good quarterbacks have,” Morgan said. “He is smart, he can turn his back to the defense, get us in and out of audibles and run the offense.”

Luke Perry, a senior running back, could have a breakout year after sliding under-the-radar, and Logan Dunfield returns at tight end, giving the SIlverwolves a dangerous inside-out offense 

The defense has some holes to fill after losing a lot of depth and talent from a year ago, but all three linebackers return and will look to lead another elite defense. 

Riverton has a tough schedule to wrap up, as they get both Herriman and Mountain Ridge at home before traveling to Bingham on October 14 in what could ultimately decide the region championship. 

With Dave Peck retiring to assume a more backseat role in central Utah though, few teams have as many questions as Bingham. One on hand, the Miners have won a region championship 10 straight seasons, something only Juan Diego (2003-2013) and Millard (1949-1960) have done. On the other hand, the last four have been shared.

Eric Jones takes the reins after spending the last decade in Roy as a defensive coordinator, and he’s looking to cement the team’s spot as a force in Region 3 and 6A as a whole.

“We’re excited about the opportunities in front of us in 2022,” Jones said. “We graduated a lot of very talented players from 2021, but have many capable athletes stepping up to fill those voids.

“The team has done a fantastic job learning new schemes in all 3 phases of the game, and we had a solid off-season of training. We’re eager to get on the field to compete… kick-off can’t come soon enough.”

Though questions surround the team, it appears that Jones’ Region 3 peers have high expectations for the Miners, as they finished tied for first in the preseason coaches poll. 

The Miners return just three starters on the offensive side of the ball, but they do so in key positions. Most notable is quarterback Dallen Martinez, who returns under center. Martinez finished the season last year with a stat line that included a 63.1 percent completion rate as well as seven touchdowns to just three interceptions. 

Bingham will certainly have chances to make statements early, as the team boasts a gauntlet preseason schedule. 

The Miners start the season with two tough road games, with trips to Weber — which lost in the quarterfinals last year — and Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nevada).

Then, their final three nonregion games are against Corner Canyon, Timpview and American Fork — matchups they lost by a combined score of 100-32 last season and will look to improve.

Herriman came in at No. 3 in the Region 3 preseason rankings as it looks to rebound from a tough 4-8 season in 2021. The Mustangs return numerous skill position players on offense to raise a unit that finished just 18th in points per game in 6A last year.

After receiving the fifth-seed last year, Mountain Ridge will look to continue to build into its second year in 6A. The Sentinels return five starters on each side of the ball, some of whom will become the first four-year starters in school history.

West Jordan is also a threat from the region, posting a 5-1 nonregion record last year behind new coach Ron Halbert. Now in his second season, Halbert returns nine defensive starters from a unit that allowed only 18 points a game a year ago.

Copper Hills rounds out the region. The Grizzlies have some winnable games early and will try to show just how deep Region 3 has become.

Region 3 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Riverton Silverwolves

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Jody Morgan

Entering his fifth season as head coach at Riverton, with his teams recording a 26-20 record the past four years. He’s a graduate of West Jordan and Dixie State.

Coach Jody Morgan’s general outlook

We are really excited for this group. The commitment and discipline they have shown this off season has been amazing. They enjoy the process of being challenged and rising up to a specific daily standard, and making it fun! Players are doing a great job owning and thriving in their roles, and can’t wait for them to compete this fall.

Offensive coordinator: Josh Phifer

2021 offense: 29.2 ppg (No. 10 in 6A)

Six returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Logan Dunfield, Sr., TELuke Perry, Sr., RB/SlotIsileli Faletau, Sr., TackleBraxton Doucette, Sr., GuardJake Meyers, Sr., QBJustice Rutledge, Jr., Guard

Key offensive newcomers

Sam Woolley, Sr., AthleteJarin Phillips, Sr., WRTegan Morgan, Sr, GuardOwen Barton, Jr., WREaston Hicks, Jr., H/WRJackson Mackay, Jr., CenterKT Faletau, So., Tackle

Defensive coordinator: Jordan Gurr

2021 defense: 16.5 ppg (No. 4 in 6A)

Four returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Wyatt Brown, Sr., LBJackson Riddle, Sr., LBBrooks Hofhine, Jr., LBIsileli Faletau, Sr., DL

Key defensive newcomers

Jiarus Parker, Sr., CBCaidren Shook, Sr., CBBraxton DuPaix, Jr., SJaxson Croff, Jr., SJoJo Gee, So., CBGage Watt, Jr., LBLuke Hamblin, Jr., DLChazz Hinckley, Sr., DLTrevan McCollough, Sr., DLTrevor Johnson, Sr., CB

2. Bingham Miners

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Eric Jones

A defensive coordinator at Roy the past 11 years, Eric Jones is jumping into the head coaching ranks for the first time this season. He’s a graduate of Roy High and Weber State.

Coach Eric Jones’s general outlook

We’re excited about the opportunities in front of us in 2022. We graduated a lot of very talented players from 2021, but have many capable athletes stepping up to fill those voids. The team has done a fantastic job learning new schemes in all 3 phases of the game. We also had a solid off-season of training so we’re eager to get on the field to compete. The opening kick-off for 2022 can’t come soon enough.

Offensive coordinator: Fred Fernandes

2021 offense: 30.8 ppg (No. 8 in 6A)

Three returning startersMultiple offense

Returning offensive starters

Dallen Martinez, Sr., QBHavea Fotu, Sr., RBSonasi Po’uha, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

Dion Fue, Sr., ATHCarson Sudbury, Jr., RBBranden Burgess, Sr., WRNate Parker, Sr., WRCarson Stettler, Jr., WRDylan Findlay, Sr., OLAlama Akoteu, Jr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Eric Jones

Bingham defense: 17.9 ppg (No. 6 in 6A)

Five returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Ben Latai, Sr., DLCannon Tennant, Sr., DLGarrison Stewart, Sr., LBCameron Mamalis, Sr., FSBraxton Gregory, Sr., SS

Key defensive newcomers

Fotu Lavaki, Sr., DLKaden McBride, Sr., LBCooper Valencia, Sr., LBTyson McBride, Jr., LBBeau Hamilton, Sr., DBKyler Marsh, Sr., DB

3. Mountain Ridge Sentinels

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Mike Meifu

Entering his fourth season as head coach at Mountain Ridge, which he’s guided to a 12-19 record in the three seasons since the school opened. Prior to starting the new program, he was the head coach at his alma mater West Jordan for four season where his teams went 24-18. He’s a graduate of Snow College.

Coach Mike Meifu’s general outlook

We had a great 2021 season and are looking to build upon things this season. We have some key players coming back that have started all 4-years and have great experience but we will have many new contributors to this years team. We have the right mix of players and it will come down to how well we perform collectively as a TEAM.

Offensive coordinator: Jack Pay

2021 offense: 30.7 ppg (No. 9 in 6A)

Five returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Cade Uluave, Sr., RBSemisi Kinikini, Jr., RBJr Sia, Sr., OLChase Higham, Sr., OLJoseph McElprang, Sr, OLBrody Laga, Jr., K

Key offensive newcomers

Jaren Dixon, Sr., WRPayton Jones, Sr., WRWill Adamson, Jr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Darius Matthews

2021 defense: 21.6 ppg (No. 12 in 6A)

Five returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Cade Uluave, Sr., ILBChase Leiataua, Sr., DBTaylor Higham, So., OLBChase Higham, Sr., DLBen Woodruff, Sr., DL

Key defensive newcomers

Semisi Kinikini, Jr., DBDomenick Mehl, Sr., ILBBrayden Pace, Sr., OLBPeyton Freeman, Sr., DBConnor Priest, Jr., DBWill Adamson, Jr., DL

4. Herriman Mustangs

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Dustin Pearce

Heads into his 10th season as Herriman’s head coach with a 59-47 record during that span and a state title in 2015. Prior to that he was Hunter’s head coach from 2008 to 2010 where his teams finished 19-15. He’s a graduate of Hunter High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Dustin Pearce’s general outlook

Looking forward to an exciting year. We have some good returning varsity players coming back with the addition of good younger players that we high expectations for.

Offensive coordinator: Eric Jensen

2021 offense: 18.92 ppg (No. 18 in 6A)

Six returning startersPro/RPO offense

Returning offensive starters

Michael Falatea, Sr., WRMax Robinson, Sr., WRSuka Ahil, Sr., OLKaden Hansen, Jr., WRHeston Egelund, Jr., OLChachi Pan, So., RB/WRFreddy Ta’ai, Jr.

Key offensive newcomers

Braden Young, Sr., RBJack Lounsbury, Sr., QBFreddy Ta’ai, Jr., QBBrock Hammon, So., OL

Defensive coordinator: Cody Stromberg

2021 defense: 24.2 ppg (No. 16 in 6A)

Three returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Carson Grundy, Sr., LBEd Vanisi, Sr., LBMichael Falatea, Sr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Jacob Prescott, Jr., DBHolden McKell, Jr., DBAleki Noyes, Sr., DBSamoa Brown, Jr., DLGage Reynolds, Jr., DE/LBReggie Smith, Jr., DL/OLChandler Smith, Jr., DB

5. West Jordan Jaguars

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Ron Halbert

Heading into his second season as head coach after posting an 8-3 record a year ago. .He’s a long-time assistant coach at several schools in Utah, including six years at West Jordan from 1989 to 1995. He’s a graduate of Roy High School and Southern Utah.

Coach Ron Halbert’s general outlook

We will still be a very young team just like last year. We had some freshmen and Sophomores that saw a lot of playing time but they will still be young this coming season. With a new O.C. joining our staff, our offense will look a bit different but will be very explosive. We have a lot of experience coming back on defense. Our strength last year was in the trenches, this year we have Miu Toutai our all state returning Center and Nose back, and the rest of our trenches could be good but is the unknown. I am excited for this young talented group of kids but, Its going to be exciting to see if we can bring it all together.

Offensive coordinator: Kevin Alexander

2021 offense: 25.7 ppg (No. 13 in 6A)

Five returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Samiuela Toutai, Sr., CKyle Curtis, Jr., SlotDillon Kuehne, Sr., WRAJ Tulau, Sr., GPorter Hall, Sr., TE

Key offensive newcomers

Jarome Myles, So., WRIan Matau, So., WRDominic Overby, Jr., WRDaiTrez Johnson, Sr., RBJackson Roybal, Jr., QBDameon Crosby, So., QB

Defensive coordinator: Ron Halbert

2021 defense: 18.4 ppg (No. 7 in 6A)

Nine returning starters33 Stack defense

Returning defensive starters

Jaxson Harris, Jr., MLBQ. Tulau, So., LBGabe Remy, Sr., CornerDimitri Lovio, Jr., CornerEli Lapale, Sr., SSPorter Hall, Sr., FSIan Matau, So., SSSamiuela Toutai, Sr., NGNathan Carignan, Sr., LB/SS

Key defensive newcomers

Talon Birch, Sr., DEFiama Tupola, So., DTPita Tupola, Jr., DTAdam Goetz, DEAJ Tulau, Sr., DEDaiTrez Johnson, Sr., DBRaige Tabball, Sr., LBBaxon Aalders, Sr., SSTimmy Thao, So., CornerDominic Overby, Jr., FS

6. Copper Hills Grizzlies

2022 Schedule

Head Coach: Corey Dodds

Heading into his sixth season, Dodds is now the longest-tenured head coach in Copper Hills’ 27 seasons. His teams are 10-38 during that stretch. He’s a graduate of Hillcrest High School and the University of Utah.

2021 offense: 8.1 ppg (No. 25 in 6A)

2021 defense: 41.2 ppg (No. 24 in 6A)

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