NUMBER 1: SAN JUAN BRONCOS
Head Coach: Barkley Christensen
Last season’s record: 13-0
The Broncos were dominant last season and left zero doubt that they were the most talented team in 2A. Their offense was other-worldly. It seemed as if they could score the ball at will. Their defense was also excellent. They are returning one of the most electric quarterbacks in the state Parker Snyder. Not to mention their star running back Zack Conway. The Broncos also bring back multiple-time all-state lineman Taylor Black as well as countless other talented starters. We have San Juan as a commanding number-one favorite to win the title again next season.
NUMBER 2: EMERY SPARTANS
Head Coach: Jon Faimalo
Last season’s record: 7-4
We did not have the Spartans as a top-five team going into last season, and we will not make the same mistake twice. They proved us wrong with style. Like the Broncos, Emery has a high-scoring offense that is a blast to watch. The Spartans fell to San Juan in the semi-final round last year in a barn burner 48-56. It may have been the best game of the year. This next season they bring back their star quarterback Wade Stilson, as well as the multi-tool threat Creek Sharp. Their defense loses some key guys in the secondary as well as the defensive line, but I believe they will reboot successfully. Watch for Emery to show up and give the Broncos a run for their money.
NUMBER 3: SOUTH SUMMIT WILDCATS
Head Coach: Mike Ruf
Last season’s record: 11-1
The Wildcats have been perennial contenders for years now. They have built a winning culture that is up there with the best in the state. There is no chance that they will be even close to a .500 record. Winning is what they do. They are returning perhaps the best defensive line in the state. There isn’t an offensive line in 2A that will be able to handle these guys. They are returning the state sack leader from last year Brady Freeman. On the offensive side of the ball, they lose their home run hitter in Caleby Thompson but return their promising quarterback in Bracken Lassche. South Summit will certainly be one of the best teams in the 2A classification, but they have not been able to get over the hump into the state title game. Could this be the year?
NUMBER 4: PROVIDENCE HALL PATRIOTS
Head coach: Jake Hardcastle
Last season’s record: 5-6
The hype has certainly been overbearing for the Patriots this next season. Their off-season has been louder than any other program. They are confident that a big leap forward will be made next season. They have some players that have some stars next to their names, and some offers being made. But, even with all of the hype, do they have enough to get past the perennial winning programs like San Juan? I do not think so. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be exciting and a whole lot better than last season. Their dynamic quarterback in Tui Fonua returns as well as their big bullish linemen in Pesi and Maile Fonua. They should be overbearing for most teams in 2A. Providence Hall certainly has assets that could potentially surprise us and be a dark horse to win it all.
NUMBER 5: LAYTON CHRISTIAN EAGLES
Head Coach: Ray Stowers
Last season’s record: 10-3
The Eagles had a movie-like season last year, dominating almost every team in their path. They tore through every 1A team with ease. This season may be a lot different. They lost countless generational players to graduation, including Oregon commit Tevita Pome’e, Weber State commit Malik Johnson, and one of the most explosive ball carriers I have seen in Jessaia Moala. In summation, the Eagles are hard to judge this season. Due to their private school nature, they may have retooled through recruiting and we do not even know about it. But for now, it is safe to say they are going to be good, but not the juggernaut they were last season.
NUMBER 6: JUDGE MEMORIAL BULLDOGS
Head coach: James Cordova
Last season’s record: 4-7
The Bulldogs are a team that is trending upward. The last few seasons have been brutal, but things are starting to look up. Two years ago they ended their season with one win and last year they managed to secure four victories. This upcoming season, I am expecting yet another jump in success. They have some talented players returning that will help them achieve their goals. Nyoun Chuol is a returning all-state player that is great on both sides of the ball but is a home-run threat on offense. They also return a tremendous edge rusher in Tyree Pearson who should make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. Other players that will pay dividends for Judge are Henry Thompson and Isaiah Hemmings. Judge could very well make a big step closer to getting back to their winning ways.
NUMBER 7: SUMMIT ACADEMY BEARS
Head coach: Justin Wilbur
Last season’s record: 6-6
The Bears had some big expectations last season, but due to some injuries and lack of depth, they fell short of those expectations. Summit Academy has built a culture of winning and even though we do not have them in our top 5, coach Miller will have his team ready to compete. The reason for their drop in rankings is due to the loss of some great players to graduation. The loss of signal caller Devin Watson might be the toughest hurdle any 2A squad has to overcome. He was a delight to watch and will continue his high level of play at the college level. They also lost the likes of star WR Koa Sylvester and a dominant lineman in Drew Mellen. But, on a positive note they will bring back a star pass rusher in Owen Egler and an excellent linebacker/running back in Khai Matagi. These players will keep this team afloat and hopefully outperform what we are projecting. Some other players that will show out next season are Josh Morill and Boston Dixon.
NUMBER 8: AMERICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Head coach: Lance Burrell
Last season’s record: 0-11
Some may be surprised by the Eagles being so high, despite their winless season last year. But, their new head coach Lance Burrell seems to be making some positive changes to their program that I like. He has been emphasizing recruiting kids within their other sports teams to come to play some football. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I doubt a strong winning culture can be created as quickly as one season, but a giant leap should be made for the Eagles. Even securing a few wins would be a victory for their school and program and a giant leap in the right direction. They are still a bit of a mystery, but I am excited to learn more about their players when fall comes around.
NUMBER 9: DELTA RABBITS
Head coach: Colin Christensen
Last season’s record: 4-8
The Rabbits certainly have the potential to be much better than the ninth-best team in 2A. But, their offense could be lacking due to losing their spectacular dual-threat quarterback Cam Skeem. Losing your quarterback is hard enough but replacing the likes of stud running back Ryder Rogers is another. The cherry on top is they also lose their Swiss Army knife Cam Smith. On a positive note, their defense should still be decent. They return one of the best edge rushers in the game in Ty Stefanoff and a beast linebacker in Marcus Chase. The Rabbits could be in for a rough season, but I also see them turning some heads with some youth.
NUMBER 10: SOUTH SEVIER RAMS
Head coach: John Ramage
Last season’s record: 4-8
The Rams are in for a tough season. They have some defensive guys returning, but the loss of Carter Abraham will be hard to overcome.
NUMBER 11: GRAND COUNTY RED DEVILS
Head coach: Dennis Wells
Last season’s record: 2-9
It seems that the rough years for the Red Devils may continue this next season. They have won only two games in the last two seasons combined. They seemed to have some slivers of hope, but many of their talented players are hitting the road and are moving on to bigger and better things. The positive side of being ranked last is you are playing with house money and can play stress-free. One bright spot is running back and linebacker Connor Swasey who is returning next season and should be even better than last season.