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Preece Prep Football Power Poll: Final rankings wrap up 2023

By Brian E. Preece - Herald correspondent | Dec 4, 2023

Harold Mitchell, Special to the Herald

Skyridge defenders attempt to make a tackle during the 6A state championship game against Corner Canyon at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.

With the 2023 high school football season now in the rear-view mirror, prep football expert Brian E. Preece takes one more look at how they all stacked up (Utah Valley teams in bold):

Rank/School (Classification)/Record/Previous Rank (Change)/Note

1. Corner Canyon (6A) 13-1 1 (NC) Chargers win 6A state title

2. Skyridge (6A) 11-3 3 (+1) Falcons fight through end of season drama

3. Timpview (5A) 11-2 6 (+3) Thunderbirds win 5A title

4. American Fork (6A) 11-2 2 (-2) Cavemen downed by Skyridge in 6A semis

5. Lehi (6A) 10-3 4 (-1) Pioneers ran into Corner Canyon juggernaut

6. Pleasant Grove (6A) 9-3 5 (-1) Vikings lost to Skyridge in overtime classic

7. Crimson Cliffs (4A) 13-1 10 (+3) Mustangs win 4A title

8. Davis (6A) 10-2 7 (-1) Darts only two losses were to Lehi

9. Lone Peak (6A) 5-7 8 (-1) Knights were much better than record

10. Olympus (5A) 8-4 16 (+6) Titans put a serious scare into Timpview

11. Bountiful (5A) 9-5 31 (+20) Braves make playoff run with dramatic wins

12. Springville (5A) 9-3 17 (+5) Red Devils season ended by Bountiful

13. Alta (5A) 10-3 29 (+16) Hawks lose close one to Bountiful in semis

14. Bingham (6A) 6-6 9 (-5) Miners played tough schedule

15. Mountain Ridge (6A) 7-3 12 (-3) Sentinels bounced by Lone Peak in rematch

16. Ridgeline (4A) 10-3 30 (+14) Riverhawks make it to 4A semifinals

17. Green Canyon (4A) 10-4 37 (+20) Wolves stun rival Sky View in big playoff run

18. Sky View (4A) 10-1 11 (-7) Lost to rival in 4A quarterfinals ends dreams

19. West (5A) 6-4 14 (-5) Panthers eliminated in second round by Alta

20. Roy (5A) 9-3 22 (+2) Royals lose a close one to Alta in quarters

21. Syracuse (6A) 7-4 20 (-1) Titans have solid season

22. San Juan (2A) 13-0 27 (+5) Broncos win 2A title, winning streak at 37

23. Brighton (5A) 8-4 15 (-8) Bengals bounced by Timpview in quarters

24. Park City (4A) 11-2 18 (-6) Miners beaten by Green Canyon

25. Herriman (6A) 5-6 24 (-1) Hard-hitting Mustangs fall to Pleasant Grove

26. Richfield (3A) 13-0 34 (+8) Wildcats win first state title since 1984

27. Provo (4A) 8-3 13 (-14) Painful loss to Payson in 4A second round

28. Timpanogos (4A) 9-3 19 (-9) Two close losses to Park City

29. Box Elder (5A) 9-3 21 (-8) Olympus ends Bee season in 5A quarters

30. Orem (5A) 5-7 26 (-4) Injuries and a tough seed end Tiger season

31. Salem Hills (4A) 8-4 25 (-6) Skyhawks have solid season

32. Maple Mountain (5A)6-6 35 (+3) Golden Eagles had some big wins in 2023

33. Payson (4A) 7-6 40 (+7) Lions have historic season

34. Stansbury (4A) 7-5 39 (+5) Stallions take a step back in 2023

35. Woods Cross (5A) 7-5 33 (-2) Wildcat season ended by Brighton

36. Desert Hills (4A) 7-5 46 (+10) Thunder can’t defend 4A title

37. Weber (6A) 6-5 42 (+5) Gave Davis a scare in 6A playoffs

38. Snow Canyon (4A) 7-4 38 (NC) Warrior season ended by rival Desert Hills

39. Manti (3A) 10-3 51 (+12) Templars make great run in 3A playoffs

40. Bonneville (5A) 6-6 44 (+4) Lakers season ended by rival Roy

41. East (5A) 5-6 28 (-14) Leopard season didn’t get full traction

42. Morgan (3A) 8-4 32 (-10) Trojan season ended by Manti in 3A semis

43. Mountain Crest (4A) 6-6 36 (-7) Mustangs stuck in tough region

44. Dixie (4A) 5-7 45 (+1) Flyer season didn’t really take flight

45. Granger (5A) 7-4 23 (-22) Blowout loss at home to Bountiful ends year

46. South Summit (2A) 10-3 56 (+10) Wildcats make 2A championship game

47. Kearns (5A) 5-6 41 (-6) Cougar season ended by East

48. Canyon View (3A) 9-3 53 (+5) Falcons have a very good season

49. West Jordan (5A) 6-6 43 (-6) Jaguars were up and down in 2023

50. Bear River (4A) 4-8 55 (+5) Bears better than record shows

51. Riverton (6A) 2-9 57 (+6) Silverwolves had rough 2023 campaign

52. Westlake (6A) 2-10 63 (+11) Thunder manage to win playoff game

53. Spanish Fork (4A) 3-7 47 (-6) Dons bounced by Bear River in 4A playoffs

54. Wasatch (5A) 3-7 49 (-5) Tough season for Wasp fans

55. Highland (5A) 3-7 50 (-5) Rams stuck in competitive league

56. Cedar City (4A) 4-7 60 (+4) Reds did win playoff game

57. Farmington (6A) 2-8 52 (-5) Phoenix didn’t rise from the ashes in 2023

58. Beaver (1A) 12-1 65 (+7) Beavers take home the gold trophy in 1A

59. Hunter (5A) 5-5 48 (-11) Wolverines had some wins in Region 4

60. Grantsville (3A) 6-6 66 (+6) Off year for the Cowboys

61. Layton Christian (2A) 6-5 73 (+12) Eagles make nice playoff run in 2A

62. Northridge (5A) 4-7 54 (-8) Knights had a lot of tough losses

63. Enterprise (1A) 11-2 71 (+8) Wolves make 1A championship game

64. Viewmont (5A) 4-7 59 (-5) Vikings bounced by Maple Mountain

65. Juab (3A) 6-6 68 (+3) 2023 season not up to Wasp standards

66. Duchesne (1A) 10-2 72 (+6) Eagle season ends in 1A semifinals

67. Summit Academy (2A) 7-5 83 (+16) Bears beat Emery in 2A playoff classic

68. Emery (2A) 6-4 74 (+6) Solid season for the Spartans

69. Fremont (6A) 2-9 64 (-5) Silverwolves had a rough season

70. Layton (6A) 1-10 90 (+20) Lancers managed to win playoff game

71. Kanab (1A) 7-5 77 (+6) Cowboys were solid in 1A gridiron wars

72. Copper Hills (6A) 4-7 58 (-14) Grizzlies started hot but faded in region play

73. Pine View (4A) 3-7 61 (-12) Panthers struggle for second straight year

74. Cedar Valley (5A) 2-9 62 (-12) Aviators grounded after some early wins

75. Mountain View (4A) 3-8 69 (-6) Bruins making progress and find some wins

76. Millard (1A) 5-6 78 (+2) Eagles didn’t find 1A football that easy

77. Delta (2A) 6-6 79 (+2) Rabbit fans still waiting return to glory years

78. Providence Hall (2A) 7-5 84 (+6) Patriot football program making strides

79. North Summit (1A) 6-5 91 (+12) Braves have solid season

80. Milford (1A) 5-6 92 (+12) Tigers couldn’t find traction this season

81. Cyprus (5A) 2-8 85 (+4) Playoff opportunity robbed by RPI quirk

82. Logan (4A) 2-8 70 (-12) Grizzlies struggled in 2023

83. Ogden (3A) 5-7 76 (-7) Tigers couldn’t maintain hot start to season

84. Juan Diego (3A) 3-7 75 (-9) Traditional power struggling in recent years

85. Union (3A) 2-9 88 (+3) Cougars stun Ben Lomond in 3A playoffs

86. Ben Lomond (3A) 6-5 67 (-19) Nice season ended with tough loss to Union

87. Uintah (4A) 2-9 80 (-7) Ute football continues to struggle

88. Tooele (4A) 4-7 81 (-7) Weak league did provide opportunities

89. Jordan (4A) 3-7 82 (-7) Glory days in rearview mirror

90. Rich (1A-8) 8-4 99 (+9) Rebels get it done in 8-player classification

91. Cottonwood (4A) 2-8 86 (-5) There are signs of life in Colt program

92. Gunnison (1A) 6-5 95 (+3) Bulldogs were solid going up to 1A this year

93. Hurricane (4A) 2-9 93 (NC) Tigers have struggled in recent years

94. North Sanpete (3A) 2-9 87 (-7) Horrible season for Hawks in 2023

95. Monticello (1A-8) 7-5 101 (+6) Lost to Rich in 8-player championship

96. Murray (4A) 1-9 89 (-7) Win against Hillcrest lone season highlight

97. Hillcrest (4A) 1-9 94 (+3) Husky gridiron woes continue

98. Judge Memorial (2A) 3-8 100 (+2) Bulldog program far from glory years

99. Clearfield (5A) 0-10 96 (-3) Moving down to 5A didn’t bring wins

100. Skyline (5A) 0-10 97 (-3) 2023 was worst season in program history

101. Altamont (1A-8) 6-3 102 (+1) Longhorns finding 8-player football fun

102. Taylorsville (5A) 1-10* 98 (-4) Warriors only win came via a forfeit

103. Carbon (3A) 1-10 103 (NC) Dino woes continue

104. Grand (2A) 2-9 104 (NC) Two wins an improvement for Red Devils

105. ALA (2A) 1-10 105 (NC) Offense had moments, defense was porous

106 Water Canyon (1A-8) 5-5 108 (+2) Wildcats building a solid program

107. Parowan (1A) 1-10 106 (-1) Rams had tough season

108. North Sevier (1A) 1-10 107 (-1) Wolves did beat South Sevier

109. South Sevier (2A) 1-9 109 (NC) Rams suffered through rough season

110. Whitehorse (1A-8) 4-5 110 (NC) Raiders did pick up some wins in 2023

111. St. Joseph (1A-8) 2-8 111 (NC) First-ever season produced two wins

112. Mon. Valley (1A-8) 2-7 112 (NC) Wins didn’t come easy for Cougars

113. USDB (1A-8) 1-5 113 (NC) Played games in several states

NC = No Change Since Last Poll

* Win was by forfeit as opposing team used ineligible players

Utah County Rankings: 1. Skyridge #2 2. Timpview #3 3. American Fork #4 4. Lehi #5 5. Pleasant Grove #6 6. Lone Peak #9 7. Springville #12 8. Provo #27 9. Timpanogos #28 10. Orem #30 11. Salem Hills #31 12. Maple Mountain #32 13. Payson #33 14. Westlake #51 15. Spanish Fork #52 16. Cedar Valley #74 17. Mountain View #75 18. ALA #105.

Notes: First of all, the two-year reign of Utah County having the top team in the Preece Power Poll has come to an end and Corner Canyon, the 6A champion whose only loss was Bishop Gorman out of Las Vegas and the top-ranked team in the country according to Max Preps, ends the 2023 gridiron wars as the Beehive State’s top prep gridiron team.

Skyridge, who faced a lot of drama at season’s end, and lost its head coach Justin Hemm for its last two games, is deserving of the No. 2 spot. The Falcons also avenged two of their season losses in the playoffs when they beat Pleasant Grove and American Fork in successive weeks.

It’s always hard in any poll to balance overall season success with the most recent playoff successes. And sometimes there is just a razor’s edge separating a number of programs. The 4A and 5A playoffs had the most upsets, and on paper two teams that should have been eliminated in earlier rounds, made the state finals in Bountiful (5A) and Green Canyon (4A).

The smaller school classifications had an upset or two but mostly were chalk with the top two seeds making the finals with the top seed prevailing in every case.

Of course, there are plenty of arguments for ranking one team over another. Why Timpview (11-2) over American Fork (11-2) for the No. 3 spot?

Timpview winning the 5A state title wasn’t the only determining factor. Timpview lost to a top California team and Skyridge. American Fork did beat Skyridge in the regular season but lost to the Falcons in the playoff rematch. But the biggest factor was American Fork’s other loss was to Lone Peak, a team the Thunderbirds beat, that moved Timpview just ahead of American Fork.

There are always circular things going on as Team A beat Team B who beat Team C who beat Team A. So sometimes, it is necessary to look at overall season success. Yes, No. 33 Payson (7-6) upset No. 27 Provo (8-3) in the second round of the 4A playoffs, but the Bulldogs did win the region title and beat No. 28 Timpanogos (9-3) who did beat Payson. And in the end Provo did have the best quality win of the three beating 5A semifinalist Olympus on their home field.

Also, going a round further in the playoffs doesn’t automatically get you a higher position in the poll. Take No. 11 Bountiful (9-5) vs. No. 10 Olympus (8-4). Both played Timpview relatively tough. But Olympus was ahead of the Thunderbirds in their semifinal game until Luke Thornock’s field goal gave Timpview the win on the game’s final play. Olympus also had a slightly better overall season than the Redhawks.

The same thing can be said for No. 16 Ridgeline and No. 17 Green Canyon in 4A. Green Canyon (10-3) made the finals from the top side of the bracket after beating top seed Sky View, while Ridgeline (10-4) lost to the eventual champions No. 7 Crimson Cliffs (13-1) in the other semifinal. But in this case, there was a head-to-head meeting where Ridgeline did beat Green Canyon, 31-21, and the Riverhawks were also way more competitive against Crimson Cliffs.

Some teams were complete enigmas. One such team was No. 30 Orem (5-7). When healthier the Tigers were truly formidable as witnessed by them playing Timpview tough in the 5A second round and even just falling to American Fork, 24-20. The Tigers also beat Wasatch twice and the Wasps did beat Maple Mountain. But Orem did suffer those injuries and couldn’t put together a winning season and dropped games to Maple Mountain (6-6), Spanish Fork (3-7) and West Jordan (6-6).

Utah prep football definitely had some quirks in 2023.

Taylorsville was awarded a win when Centennial, Colorado had to forfeit a slew of games for using ineligible players. So that win moved Taylorsville to 1-9 overall for the regular season. That forfeit win gave the Warriors enough RPI points to leapfrog Cyprus for the final spot in the 5A playoffs. However, Cyprus won two games (on the actual field) and beat Taylorsville, 48-26.

Layton became the first team in state history, perhaps any prep football history, to win a playoff game after going winless in the regular season. But the Lancers, as the No. 18 and last seed in 6A, defeated No. 15 Copper Hills, 24-20.

In the 4A tournament, Region 9 basically eliminated itself as six of its seven teams were in one quarter of the bracket. It made for easier travel but for state level competition most players, coaches and fans would rather play teams from other leagues. No. 2 seed Crimson Cliffs and No. 7 seed Snow Canyon got byes. Crimson Cliffs then played the winner of the No. 15 Cedar City vs. No. 18 Pine View game which ended up being Cedar City. Snow Canyon ended up playing Desert Hills, who beat No. 23 Hurricane, but then Desert Hills, the No. 10 seed, actually upset Snow Canyon. Then Crimson Cliffs eliminated the Thunder in the quarterfinal round.

There were just too many region vs. own region first round games for most fan’s liking. Out of eight games in the first round of the 4A playoffs, five were intra-region affairs. Then on top of that, many times the winner had to play a team from its own league again.

In the 4A and 5A tournaments which currently have 24 participants, the solution isn’t that complicated. The top eight seeds get first round byes. For seeds nine through 24, just have the ninth seed play the lowest seed from another region. Then the No. 10 seed plays the next lowest seed from another region and so forth. Perhaps, you still have one or two games pitting teams from the same region but that’s a lot better than five or six. Again, it’s not rocket science.

For example, in 4A instead of No. 9 Salem Hills playing No. 24 Uintah again, match up Salem Hills against the next lowest seed, No. 23 Hurricane. No. 10 Desert Hills then draws Uintah instead of Hurricane from its region. Instead of No. 14 Payson playing No. 19 Mountain View, have Payson play No. 18 Pine View and send Mountain View to play No. 15 Cedar City.

The worst situation was in 2019 where Timpview played Timpanogos in the first round of the playoffs just a week after they played Timpanogos in their final region game of the regular season. Timpview won both games in blowouts.

Preece Power Poll (PPP) vs. the RPI Computers: Going into the playoffs, the PPP did a little better than the RPI system in predicting the eventual winners of state titles. The PPP correctly identified Corner Canyon (6A), Timpview (5A), Crimson Cliffs (4A), San Juan (2A), Beaver (1A) and Rich (1A-8 player) as the best teams in their classifications. The PPP saw Morgan as the best team in 3A, but Richfield won the title. The RPI missed with the 4A and 6A as Sky View and American Fork were tabbed as the favorites, but got everything else correct.

Bountiful was the lowest RPI seed that made the championship finals as the 10th seeded Redhawks upset No. 2 Springville in the quarterfinals and then beat No 11 seed Alta in the semifinals. Green Canyon made the 4A championship game from its eighth seed.

Biggest Climbers and Decliners since the last Preece Power Poll: Two teams that made deep playoff runs made the biggest jumps in the PPP. Both Bountiful and Green Canyon improved 20 spots from their ranking going into the playoffs. And Layton, who was winless in the regular season, improved 20 positions as well when it upset Copper Hills in the first round of the 6A playoffs. With its own 6A playoff win, Westlake made the biggest jump of county teams moving up 11 spots. Payson improved seven positions with two 4A playoffs wins including stunning Provo, 27-21.

Granger, who moved up well from the mid-season to end of the regular season poll, slid the most dropping 22 positions after being blown out by Bountiful in their home playoff game. Moving down 19 positions was Ben Lomond, who had one of their better seasons in years but then inexplicably dropped a home playoff game to Union. The two Utah Valley teams that had significant slippage were Provo and Cedar Valley which fell 14 and 11 spots respectively. Copper Hills and East, like Provo, also slid 14 positions.


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