Watch for the Standard-Examiner's special Northern Utah Prep Football Preview, publishing Sunday, Aug. 11.
Region 1 has a different composition than the past two years with the addition of Roy High to the mix.
That creates eight teams and an elongated region schedule that, especially in football, puts an even bigger premium on depth and staying healthy.
Six of the eight teams have a returning starting quarterback and of those six returners, four are dual-threat QBs.
Here's a rundown of Region 1 football as the season approaches next week.
The consensus among coaches is that the top three teams at the end of the Region 1 season will be Fremont, Roy and Weber, in some order.
“Fremont’s going to be great, Weber’s really good, Roy’s really good and then I think Syracuse has a good shot to be good," Layton head coach Tyler Gladwell said. "There’s not a game in region player where, ‘Oh I think we’ve got a really good shot at winning this one,’ because everyone is so good.
“Weber’s been winning it for the last couple of years so they’re top dog until somebody beats them, right?”
What Weber has going for it: more than half the team returns, including quarterback Kohl Hogan; the Warriors have a winning culture thanks to back-to-back region titles; and an overwhelming majority of its coaches return.
What Weber has going against it: Matt Hammer, the head coach who guided the team to back-to-back region titles, is at Weber State; Hudson Schenck and Brandt Opheikens are nearly impossible to replace and this year's skill players are unproven, for now.
What Roy has going for it: a talented third-year starting quarterback Jaxson Dart, unrivaled depth at running back with Cade Harris and Izzy Gordon, a returning linebacker Jaden Harris and a strong defensive line.
What Roy has going against it: lack of experience at a ton of spots, plus lack of depth. The Royals have somewhere between 50-60 players in the whole program, which is low for their liking.
Will they be able to last a whole season in a region that includes two very bitter rivalry games?
“I think this year is going to be tougher than it’s been probably the last four, five, six years, top-to-bottom,” Fremont coach Ross Arnold said.
What Fremont has going for it: a prolific returning quarterback Mitch Stratford, a strong and experienced defensive line, solid linebackers and huge turnout in the program.
What Fremont has going against it: lack of experience on the offensive line and secondary.
There’s also an unknown with how Jaxon Whitney (receiver and linebacker) will return from a severe knee injury.
Northridge has a lot of experience and many talented returning players, namely big-time recruit Otto Tia.
Quarterback Colby Browning returns, as does most of the team. If the Knights figure out their defense, they’ll be a tough out.
“You look at Region 1 and anyone’s got a chance to win every week,” Weber coach Jayson Anderson said.
Layton has a ton of experience and size up front, but the Lancers’ experience comes on the heels of teams that have won two games in two years.
If the returning players learned from last year’s trials and the team truly knows the schemes after two years, then it's reasonable to expect more than two wins this year.
Layton quarterback Landon Brant is a dangerous, dual-threat signal caller and Nate Atkinson is an agile player in the open field.
Davis has some talented returners here and there. Junior receiver David Spjut is a name to know, but the Darts will have a learning curve with so many new starters.
Most of Clearfield's starters return from a 1-8 season. The Falcons also get an infusion of juniors who led last year’s sophomore team to an undefeated campaign.
Those juniors have a winning mentality. That could help propel CHS to an improved 2019.
What’s in store for Syracuse? SHS has a new offensive coordinator, but the Titans have a returning dual-threat QB Bridger Hamblin, plus a speedy receiver Ty Burke coming off injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Otto Tia: Northridge’s senior receiver and defensive end will likely attract lots of double coverage on offense. But he’s smart, talented and athletic enough to be a reliable target, even against multiple defenders.
Mitch Stratford: Fremont’s senior quarterback threw 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season. Stratford had loads of time in the pocket last year and has been working on throwing on the run in case he doesn’t get as much time in 2019.
Justin Sagapolu: Fremont’s quiet senior leader on defense is moving from defensive line to linebacker. He had 30 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss and five sacks in 2018.
Bridger Hansen: Defensive lineman Bridger Hansen made 60 tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries for Fremont in 2018.
Jaxson Dart: If anyone's primed for a breakout year, it’s Roy’s third-year starting junior quarterback. If anyone in the area can hit a dime with a football from 40 yards away, it’s Dart.
Cade Harris: As a sophomore, Harris had 1,010 total yards (386 rushing, 278 receiving, 181 punt return and 165 kick return) for Roy. Expect more of the same in 2019.
Izzy Gordon: If Gordon is healthy, the Roy junior running back could put up big numbers. In a little under six quarters of play last year, Gordon totaled 232 rushing yards on just 23 rushes.
Kohl Hogan: Weber’s dual-threat senior quarterback threw 14 touchdown passes, ran for six more and caught another while only throwing three interceptions last year.
Aisea Moa: The sophomore defensive lineman/linebacker didn’t see much varsity time last year, but Utah, Utah State and BYU saw enough over the summer to each offer Moa a full scholarship.
Colby Browning: Browning had 2,925 total yards of offense last year with 22 scores (19 passing TD’s). If he's smarter throwing the ball this year, Northridge will benefit greatly.
Ty Burke: Burke’s time was limited last year, but he caught 31 passes for 797 yards (25.7 yards per catch) and 10 scores as a sophomore. That’s a sliver of what he’s capable of.
Bridger Hamblin: Syracuse's senior QB totaled 1,402 yards of offense with 12 scores in 2018. Hamblin's strong suit is an uncanny awareness running the ball.
Nate Atkinson: Layton’s offense needs to get the ball in Atkinson’s hands no matter where he's lined up. Opposing defenses would do well to contain him.
Landon Brant: Layton’s dynamic quarterback is another player opposing defenses need to watch carefully. If he gets loose, it’s going to take something crazy to catch him.
Gage Dicus: Last year’s stats (10 catches, 132 yards, two touchdowns) don’t say tons about Clearfield’s junior receiver, but there’s a sense among the team that Dicus is primed for a breakout year.
David Spjut: Spjut had 713 total yards as a sophomore last year for Davis (365 kick return, 190 receiving, 113 punt return and 45 rushing yards). In open space, the junior receiver is as dangerous as anyone.