Playoff primer: Third season begins for four Region 9 teams

Desert Hills will get a chance to defend its state championship title, but the Thunder will have to do it on the road, file photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

And now for something new.

Region 9 teams have been bullies in the 3AA since its creation in 2013, winning three of four state titles and generally having one or two teams in the title game. But now, the teams from southern Utah have stepped into the new 4A classification. Will things be different?

The answer is yes. And no.

Jacob Barben (13) and the Dixie Flyers are ranked No. 3 by, file photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

A quick glance at the MaxPreps rankings show Dixie, Pine View and Desert Hills as three of the top six teams in the state in 4A (Dixie is third, PV is fifth and DH is sixth). Obviously the respect is there. But the Region 9 undefeated champ Flyers are not rated No. 1, or even second, which certainly would have been the case if Dixie had gone 9-1 in the old 3AA.

Understandably, Sky View is ranked No. 1. After all, the Bobcats are undefeated. But MaxPreps sneaks Orem in at No. 2, just ahead of Dixie, despite the fact that the Tigers have lost twice this season. And also sneaking into the top five (ahead of Pine View) is Mountain Crest. All three of those teams are holdover 4A programs from before the classification change last summer.

So, what does that mean? Well, clearly the competition is better in 4A than it was in 3AA. But voters in the MaxPreps and Deseret News polls have little to go on when considering strength of regions and strength of schedules.

For instance, Sky View (9-0) is unbeaten, but half of their wins are against really bad teams (Logan, Green Canyon, Ridgeline, Tooele). Region 9’s record against Region 12 (where the Bobcats went 5-0) is 3-0 and Region 9 teams overall are 6-0 against other 4A teams (including non-playoff team Hurricane’s 30-6 win over Mountain View, which made the playoffs).

Jacob Mpungi (6) and the Pine View Panthers are ranked No. 5 by heading into the playoffs, file photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

There’s no doubt that Sky View is a good team, and Mountain Crest, whose only loss is to Sky View, will be tough to handle as well. Orem, I think, had an easy schedule. Region 10, where the Tigers went 5-0, just isn’t very good.

But looking at all that, it seems Region 9’s best will do just fine, especially in the first round.

The second round is another story and it will really separate the wheat from the chaff. Likely second-round matchups have Pine View going to Sky View, Dixie hosting Mountain Crest and Desert Hills going to Orem (the fourth game would be the Stansbury-Cedar winner likely against Spanish Fork). Those first three quarterfinal games pit the top six ranked teams in 4A.

In other words, Round 1 could be ugly (blowouts all over the place), but the quarterfinal round will be a true indicator of which region is really the strongest.

Check back at St. George News sports all week for more on the upcoming 4A football playoffs.

4A football playoff bracket

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