A current Region 1 boys basketball team has gone to the state semifinals five of the past six seasons.
Fremont and Davis both finished in last season's semis and there's a growing thought in the area that the region could end up with a semifinalist or two at the end of this season, which officially begins Tuesday, Nov. 26.
"We’ve tried to raise the bar, tried to hold guys a little bit more accountable. We can’t relax, you could say the target’s there, but I think our league is going to be better this year than last year at least at the top," Fremont head coach Corey Melaney said.
Fremont’s back court is the best in the region, led by seniors Dallin Hall (21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists per game), Baylor Harrop (17 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg) and Tige Voorhees (10.1 ppg). Forward Mitch Stratford rounds out the group of returning starters from last year's team that went to the semifinals.
Melaney says the preseason attention has added more focus and determination to the team, but stressed, "We can't pat ourselves on the back because it's a new season. We haven't done anything yet."
Layton was already going to have the best post presence in the region thanks to junior Ethan Potter (16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 50% shooting), who picked up a scholarship offer from Southern Utah over the summer.
Now, the Lancers might have the tallest lineup in the state with two new move-ins: 6-foot-7 Farmington transfer Boston Painter, a senior, and 6-foot-11 Wasatch Academy transfer Preston Squire, a junior.
Combine that with experienced returning guards Tanner Kofoed (16.6 ppg, 6.1 apg, 46% shooting) and Jacob Randall, and Layton is a whole different kind of matchup.
"When you get two move-ins, it’s mostly just us jelling and coming together, figuring each other out, figuring out offense, and defensively learning to trust each other," Lancers head coach Kelby Miller said. "This is a group that’s super skilled and that’s gonna have to learn to sacrifice a little bit of their game to help the team out as much as possible."
Even with the attention Layton's getting for its experience and potentially college-height lineup, Miller points to two-time defending Region 1 champs Fremont as the team to beat.
"Obviously, I think the road goes through Fremont and they’ve got their three good guards coming back — and let’s be honest, it’s a guard’s game — and until somebody knocks them off, I would pick Fremont," Miller said.
Either way, circle Jan. 21, 2020, and Feb. 13, 2020, on the calendar. Those are the two times Fremont and Layton play and, unless someone else in the region comes together and starts beating teams it's not supposed to, the Silverwolves and Lancers are likely the two teams to beat in Region 1.
But could there be a third team in the mix?
Davis returns guards Jake Sampson (15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 48% shooting) and Trevan Leonhardt (9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.4 steals).
The Darts will have to re-tool their post presence after six seniors graduated but, when two of the top shooters in the region come back from statistically the best scoring team in Region 1 last year, then yes, the Darts have a chance.
Elsewhere, there are three new head coaches: Landon Cosby (Weber), Scott Hunt (Roy) and Andrew Olson (Northridge).
Weber returns starting post Max Triplett (9.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks) and junior Quinn Bennett. The Warriors are likely going to run with Cannon DeVries, a quick and athletic sophomore who got some solid minutes last year, at point guard.
Roy is sort of an unknown other than leading scorer Kobe Schriver.
Hunt's Bear River team last year shot 50% from the floor, 42% from 3-point range and went to the 4A state championship game with what amounted to a six-player rotation.
Northridge will look new, personnel-wise, after graduating several seniors. One player to keep an eye on is Trey Simms, an athletic 6-foot-5 forward/guard who turned some heads on the summer club circuit.
Syracuse brings back just one of its top seven leading scorers from last year, that being Kobe Rusch (7.3 points). Clearfield returns Grayson Banks and Kaden Swanson, both of whom averaged more than seven points per game.
How does Region 1 stack up in 6A?
Since the season hasn't even started, how Region 1 can stack up in 6A won't get answered fully until the end of the year. But signs point to Region 1 being able to play with the top teams this season.
It's not only because of who Fremont, Layton and Davis return, but because of the rest of 6A.
"It’s kind of up for grabs," Miller said.
Defending state champion American Fork lost four starters — all of them college basketball commits — and defending runner-up Pleasant Grove lost a lot of talent as well.
Skyridge, coming up from 5A where it went 19-6 last year, returns its top two scorers who combined for 35 points per game last year and Miller was impressed with how the Falcons looked in the offseason.
Lone Peak, who Fremont beat in the first round of last year's state playoffs, is probably poised for a return to the upper echelon. Jordan is another team to watch, Melaney said.