In the last five years, the Timpanogos and Payson football teams have combined records of 30 wins and 73 losses as the Timberwolves and the Lions have dealt with some tough times.
Now the two schools are are petitioning to go a new direction with their gridiron programs.
Payson and Timpanogos joined Cottonwood as the latest Utah high school football programs to request to leave their current regions and go independent.
Brenan Jackson, assistant director of the Utah High School Activities Association who is over football, explained in a phone interview Thursday that the schools presented their petitions to the executive committee on Wednesday but the final decision will be made be made by the association’s Board of Trustees next week.
“If the petitions are approved, the football programs will then be granted independent status for however long they would like to stay independent,” Jackson said.
While no Utah Valley high school football program has gone this route in recent history, it’s not unknown in the state.
Both Whitehorse and Monument Valley in the southeastern corner of Utah are independent in football, while Ogden elected to take the same approach earlier in the decade.
“Some schools have looked at their numbers and at safety for their athletes and decided to go independent,” Jackson said. “That way they can look at playing schools with similar abilities but aren’t tied to regions or playing in the playoffs.”
He said that each of the schools who chose to petition went through extensive processes that included administration and community meetings before deciding this was the right path to embark on.
“It will have an impact on the regions they were in,” Jackson said. “The other teams will have to find other games to fill those spots. Some of them could play the independent programs because they can play anyone. As independents, they can be more selective.”
He explained that the ratings percentage index (RPI) that determines seedings for the state tournaments will still apply to the independent teams.
“If they were in 5A, non-independent teams who face them will get the 5A adjustment for their RPI rankings,” Jackson said. “That won’t change at all. Last year, those games were a wash as it didn’t help or hurt teams.”
It’s not a permanent decision, Jackson said, as the programs can elect to return to UHSAA competition.
“Typically the process to return is for a program to let us know and then return for the next realignment,” Jackson said.
Both Payson and Timpanogos are in the process of finding new head football coaches although former Timberwolf head coach Daniel Tervort said Thursday he sees this as a good move for the program.
“I think it’s a really good thing for Timpanogos,” Tervort said. “With open enrollment and the dynamics of the schools in the surrounding area, it’s been a struggle to get the numbers we need. I think this could help us get a jump start.”