Prep football preview: Region outlooks for 3A North and 1A North
High school football is less than two weeks away. Continuing our series of preview stories for Northern Utah, here’s a breakdown of both the 3A North region (Ben Lomond, Ogden and Morgan) and the 1A North region (Layton Christian).
The two odds-on favorites in 3A North are the same two teams who met in the state championship game last November at Weber State: Morgan and Grantsville.
They’re both in similar situations heading into 2022. They both lost good players and brought good players back.
No doubt motivation sits with returning players from Morgan, who lost both meetings with the Cowboys last year (21-7 in the regular season, 14-10 in the title game).
Then again, the Trojans — and everyone else on Grantsville’s schedule — will have to figure out a way past the Cowboys’ No. 1 defense that allowed just 9.2 points per game in 2021.
Morgan theoretically has the personnel to get past most defenses this year, bringing back quarterback Nick Despain, four offensive linemen and a couple of receivers.
If there’s a third team in the 3A North region title mix, it would be Juan Diego, a typically big and physical team that, as a private school, can reload on a whim.
Ogden, Ben Lomond and Union appear to be the teams fighting for fourth place this year.
Both the Tigers and Scots return several key players on both sides of the ball but are more susceptible to injuries/ineligibilities/etc. than the rest of the region.
Ogden showed last year it’s more than game in the playoffs after beating Manti on the road and nearly beating No. 1 Juab the following week.
Ben Lomond is a little bit reworked this year, so it’s hard to tell what the Scots will look like come game time.
All six region teams participated in a media day/combine event back in June at Morgan High. If the combine showed anything, it’s that each team has a fair share of athleticism and talent.
Like 3A North, the two favorites to win 1A North were the two teams that met last November at Weber State: Layton Christian and Duchesne.
Layton Christian brings back senior lineman and Oregon commit Tevita Pome’e, who helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers last year in Jessaia Giatras-Moala and Manu Vaitaki.
Giatras-Moala went for 1,919 yards and 24 touchdowns on just 180 carries (10.7 yards per rush). Vaitaki rushed for 1,085 yards and seven scores. Both players started at linebacker.
A big key for LCA this year will be discipline. The Eagles incurred far too many penalties in 2021 for coach Ray Stowers’ liking, yet they were still so close (18-14) to winning the 1A state championship.
Duchesne returns most of its best players from last year’s team that went 11-1, won the 1A North title and the 1A state title.
Duchesne beat LCA both times they met and has three straight seasons of 11 wins. Five of the last six seasons have ended in double-digit wins.
Despite this year’s meeting coming in Week 6, it’ll no doubt be circled on both schools’ calendars.
Otherwise, there’s been a lot of change in the 1A football landscape this offseason along with some acrimony.
Rich and Monticello High, formerly in 1A North, both went independent this year and will play a schedule of mostly eight-player games as Utah makes a foray into eight-player football.
North Sevier and Gunnison moved from 1A South to 1A North, giving the north region five schools along with LCA, Duchesne and North Summit.
The south region — Enterprise, Kanab, Milford, Parowan — will also stay at five schools as Water Canyon (Hildale) starts football for the first time.
Earlier this year, the 1A schools banded together and said they refused to play Layton Christian because it would be a safety issue, owing to LCA’s superior physical size, according to LCA officials.
Diplomacy prevailed and Layton Christian has four 1A North region games, though three of them are on the road and only one other game on the entire schedule as a whole this year is against a 1A team.
That led LCA to schedule whoever else was available, building arguably the toughest relative strength of schedule in the state: two Idaho schools, San Juan and Juan Diego.
“We’re grateful to have a 10-game schedule, we’ll just leave it at that,” LCA head coach Ray Stowers said earlier this year.
The fact remains that relations have been chilly between LCA and its 1A counterparts this spring and summer. Whether that bleeds into games is another question.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.