The Bingham Miners were one win away from a trip to the title game last season.
Even after giving up five turnovers to a Syracuse team led by a backup quarterback, Bingham worked its way to the Titans’ 15, down 21-16 with less than a minute to go.
But on a fourth-and-2 play, the Miners came up inches short.
“To go to the semis, most people would be happy,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck, a man accustomed to winning. “But it was a disappointment to us.”
As autumn approaches, the Miners of 2013 will look a little different. Star defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei signed with the University of Utah. Wide receiver Hayden Weichers and offensive lineman Joe Malanga signed with Utah State. In all, eight Miners signed letters to play college football.
But Peck believes his team remains poised for another title run.
Led by Aaron Amaama and Riley Culley, the Miners will have four players who either started or saw regular minutes on the offensive line coming back to make holes for Bingham’s running backs and buy time for quarterbacks to find tight end Dalton Schultz.
Defensively, safety Sky Manu will be a third-year starter for Bingham.
The Miners are feeling good about their production so far this summer. Bingham took second out of 40-plus teams at the seven-on-seven Ute Shoot competition, then turned around and won BYU’s seven-on-seven tournament.
“We’re knocking on the door,” Peck said.
ASSIGNMENT • Region 3
LAST YEAR • 10-3 overall, 4-1 Region 4 (lost 21-16 to Syracuse in the Class 5A state semifinals)
KEY RETURNER • Dalton Schultz, a 6-foot-6 tight end who was second on the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns last season, is rated as the top tight end in the country by Scout.com.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Tailback Scott Nichols rushed for 291 yards and four touchdowns over the final three games of last season.
BIGGEST HOLE • Jantzen Bowles and Coleman Stout split time at quarterback last season. With those two graduated, the competition is on to replace them. Senior Kade Jensen got a few varsity snaps last year, but juniors Kyle Gearig and Michael Green could overtake him.
NEED TO KNOW • Center Riley Culley, tackle Aaron Amaama, and guard Noa Taeatafa all return after starting last season on Bingham’s offensive line. Austin Bunkall, the team’s sixth lineman, saw significant action last year as a junior and should have a starting spot this year.