BRIGHAM CITY -- Kyler Johnson, like most players reaching the end of their high school careers, had a goal.
"We wanted to win the region title outright," Johnson said. "That was our main goal."
At first glance, that might not seem all that lofty a perch to seek, but for the Box Elder High School boys soccer team, achieving that feat meant making history.
"We created 10 goals as a team that were focused on our weaknesses from last season," Johnson said. "I think this season really started after our loss to Dixie (in the 2010 4-A quarterfinals). We didn't leave it all on the field down there, and it left a bitter taste in our mouths."
It was mission accomplished.
In helping the Bees capture their first-ever outright league soccer title, Johnson tallied eight goals, moving forward from a role in central defense he had played for the past three seasons, utilizing his dynamic versatility to help key Box Elder to nine-match winning streak.
For his efforts, Johnson is the Most Valuable Player of the Standard-Examiner 2011 All-Area Boys Soccer Team.
"Kyler was our on-field motivator," Box Elder coach Nate Bywater said. "He worked hard so he could lead by example.
"This was his first year as a striker where he had played center defender for the past few years and the results speak for themselves."
In what was arguably his strongest offensive outing of the season, the speedy Johnson corralled his first career hat trick, scoring three goals in a 4-1 win over Sky View on May 6. That win secured the Region 5 title for the Bees with two games remaining in league play.
"The switch from center back to forward started out as an experiment," Johnson said. "One practice I went up and played there, and then we tried that the next game. At the time we were in a little scoring slump. I think it was mainly just to get a different look up top. We had a strong offense this year; we wanted to apply a lot of pressure and try to capitalize on teams' mistakes."
For all his individual recognition, Johnson still tries to turn the credit away from himself and back to the rest of his team.
"Winning region twice in a row was huge for us, mainly because it has never been done in Box Elder history," Johnson said. "Box Elder has always had talented players, but I think the biggest change the last three years have been the leadership and the players' commitment to the program."
Box Elder went 9-5-1 in 2010, earning a share of the league title with Mountain Crest, and advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 4-A tournament for the first time since 2002, which was the Bees only other title-winning season.
Instead of being content with what they previously, Johnson and his teammates wanted to truly put their stamp on the Box Elder program.
"The chemistry of the team had a huge impact on our success," Johnson said. "I cannot say enough about the coaching staff and all the time they have put into and sacrificed four the team and this program."
The Bees finished this season at 12-3-1 (9-1-0 in Region 5) and had a 37-13 overall goal differential, advancing to the 4-A quarterfinals before dropping a heart-breaking shootout to Highland.
"We swept both Mountain Crest and Sky View and won the region outright for the first time in Box Elder history," Johnson said. "I think the only goal we did not accomplish was to win the 4-A state title, so in that sense, we had a very successful season and we are very proud of what we have done."
The All-Area team is selected based upon individual statistics, team finish in region and state tournament play and input from the 17 head coaches inside the newspaper's five-county circulation area.