NUMBER 1: BEAVER BEAVERS
Beaver would be a stacked team in 2A, but now that they are dropping to 1A, they might not lose a game. Their defense will be the best in the state, which is not hyperbolic. Their linebacking core of Matheson, Gale, and Gaddon will cancel any chance of a rushing attack. The two all-state DBs of Hollingshead and Blackburn will make passing the ball nearly impossible. The loss of Fails and Bradshaw will be challenging to overcome on the offensive side of the ball, but the Beavers have such a sound system intact that it will not matter. I have Beaver having an undefeated regular season.
PROJECTED RECORD: 10-0
NUMBER 2: DUCHESNE EAGLES
On paper, the Eagles certainly deserve to be high on this list, but it was the same situation last season as well, and they stumbled out of the gate. Duchesne has a proud and excellent winning culture, so that I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and Coach Cowan is fantastic at scheming and preparing his team. This Eagles team will have three-year starters in various integral positions of their squad, including the quarterback position. Parker Crum is an outstanding QB that is versatile and has a high football IQ; if he plays well, the Eagles can give the Beavers a run for their money. Other returning key players are Cade Gines, Draker Goodliffe, and Dallin Porter.
PROJECTED RECORD: 8-2
NUMBER 3: ENTERPRISE WOLVES
The Wolves went undefeated in the regular season and beat some of the best teams in 1A. They are well-coached and are returning many seasoned starters. Enterprise has a strong run game and is returning two of their best ball carriers. Kyron Bracken, who nearly won the rushing title, will be returning, as well as Jaden Drake. There is no reason why Enterprise shouldn’t come back next season just as good or even better.
PROJECTED RECORD: 8-2
NUMBER 4: MILLARD EAGLES
The Millard Eagles were perhaps the best 2-9 squad I have ever seen. They were far better than their record showed. Almost every single one of their losses was in one-score games. The Eagles have an excellent opportunity to flip their record from last year. The Eagles are losing some great players to graduation but still have some dudes returning. They will miss stars like Morgan Wade and KC Whitaker, who were excellent two-way players. They will also miss guys like Wade Brunson at the defensive line position. But, they will have their star running back Brooks Christensen coming back, as well as their all-state linebacker in Luke Degraffenreid. The Eagles dropped to 1A and will make a dominant first impression.
PROJECTED RECORD: 6-4
NUMBER 5: KANAB COWBOYS
The Kanab Cowboys had an excellent season last year and fought to the state championship game. They faced off against the juggernaut Layton Christian overflowing with D1 athletes. The Cowboys won the chip in my record book. Kanab did lose some critical guys, including SUU signee Kason Janes. That will be a significant loss to overcome. They also lost a stud running back, Parker Franklin. Luckily, they have another season with their stag quarterback Griffin Bone. Bone was excellent, especially in the clutch; I expect a giant leap from him next season. They are returning their freshman sensation tailback Gubler and various other young talents. The Cowboys are building a perennial winning culture in Kanab.
PROJECTED RECORD: 6-4
NUMBER 6: MILFORD TIGERS
The Tigers have had an electric high-powered offense for seasons now, and next season shouldn’t be any different. Tsosie took the reigns at quarterback and did not disappoint. He will only be a junior, and his ceiling is very high. But he is losing his favorite target, Trey Rose, and his running back, Bo Hardy. These players will not be easy to replace. On the defense side, they return vital players like Tesler Fields and Jedd Netto, who will pay automatic dividends. The Tigers haven’t found a way to get over the hump, and it seems like next season will have a similar result.
PROJECTED RECORD: 5-5
NUMBER 7: NORTH SUMMIT BRAVES
This one was tough. The Braves are returning an onslaught of quality starters, but it seems perhaps a year away. They went 3-8 last season but were extremely young and inexperienced. They should certainly be much better this next season. They are getting their shifty dual-threat QB back in Jake Smith. They are also returning two stud linebackers, Buck Sargent and Cutler Blonquist. Another key player that will retake the field this next season is the Braves’ Swiss Army knife, McKade Nelson. These boys have the potential to win more games than we are projecting. But I do not think it is a hot take to predict that they will be far better in August.
PROJECTED RECORD: 4-6
NUMBER 8: GUNNISON VALLEY BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs are going to be good next season. They are coming off the first-ever 8-man championship in Utah. They are also bringing back some solid starters next season. One of those starters is Pearson Judy. A high-level linebacker that flies around the field making plays. They are bringing back their star quarterback Tyson Tucker, but are losing their two leading rushers. Gunnison has a strong culture, so it is possible they could retool quickly; only time will tell. Another bright spot is four of their interceptions are coming back in star defensive back Andres Valencia. I have the Bulldogs being good but not great. They would undoubtedly win the 8-man championship again if they were in that classification.
PROJECTED RECORD: 4-6
NUMBER 9: NORTH SEVIER WOLVES
The Wolves have a proud history of winning, but I am not overly confident it will continue next season. The Wolves are losing many players to graduation, including their quarterback and running back, Kannin Boswell. Boswell was their entire offense, and his loss will be traumatic. They have some bright spots, including their returning all-state defensive back James Crowley. This may not be their season, but in the long term, the Wolves are set up for success.
PROJECTED RECORD: 2-8
NUMBER 10: PAROWAN RAMS
The Parowan Rams struggled last season, going back and forth from 11-man games to 8-man games. They seemed to falter when going up against the better 1A squads. The Rams lose their star defensive lineman Cooper Miller and have to retool at almost every other position. It may be a rough season for the Parowan Rams.
PROJECTED RECORD: 1-9