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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Intense competition awaits Brighton in new Region 6

Sep 07, 2023 02:19PM ● By Anna Pro

Brighton will play its old rival Alta in the new Region 6. (File photo City Journals)

Old rivalries re-emerge as the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) announced region realignments last December for Utah high school competitions. The first sports to be affected by the change begin season play as the new school year begins. 

The newly announced region realignment brings the Alta Hawks back into direct competition with Brighton. The region becomes even deeper with the addition of the West Panthers—a school that was competitive in the 6A ranks until the realignment. Leaving the region are the Park City Miners and the Murray Spartans. These two schools join the movement in the 4A ranks that will push that classification to nearly double over the next few years. “The new Region 6 is more competitive top to bottom especially in football,” Brighton football coach Casey Sutera said.  

“We’re excited to have new schools in our region. We have a long-standing rivalry with Alta and look forward to competing with West, a school that brings a wealth of history and tradition,” Brighton Principal Marielle Rawle said. Alta has been a Brighton rival since 1978 when Alta was a new school splitting off from Brighton. Principal Rawle, in her first year, is the first principal at Brighton who is an alumna of Brighton. She remembers the early ’80s as a student when Brighton athletics were unmatched in the state. These were years when Brighton would win seven state championships in a single year.

The realignment allows for another piece of flexibility. The UHSAA board of trustees also approved a motion that would allow for any school to apply to a higher classification in a specific sport or activity. "The Association appreciates the tireless effort that our board of trustees performs during the realignment process," the UHSAA said in a statement. "Their hours of research, conversation and outreach during the realignment are crucial to creating a feasible alignment for Utah students." 

Tom Sherwood, director of high schools in Canyons School District, said, “It has allowed more schools than ever to opt up and down in specific sports to help level the playing field in terms of individual sports versus whole school classification.” An example of this newly expanded rule is Orem High School which has moved to a 4A classification yet retains its 5A status only for its football program.

Once a school petitions and is placed in a higher classification, that school must remain in the new classification for that specific sport for the duration of the established two-year realignment cycle.

The Lehi Pioneers, formerly a powerhouse in 5A athletics, moves up to the 6A classification while many Salt Lake County schools move down to the 5A classification—Cyprus, Granger, Hunter, Kearns, Taylorsville, Kearns, West and West Jordan.

While realignment and classification changes swirl, Brighton can now focus on its Region 6 competition: Alta, East, Highland, Olympus, Skyline and West. λ