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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood to realign in all sports except football

Feb 18, 2021 01:40PM ● By Brian Shaw

Dylan Reiser pitches in the state tournament in 2018. Baseball, along with every sport except football, will join a new region next year. (File photo Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

New year, big news. 

The Utah High School Activities Association announced that Cottonwood High School will stay in Class 5A but move to a new region in all sports except football. 

“We had a little input on the decision, but ultimately [UHSAA] runs the show,” explained Cottonwood athletic director Greg Southwick. 

Effective beginning the fall sports season and continuing through the 2022-23 school year, the new move will keep crosstown rival Hillcrest in Cottonwood’s league but add Cedar Valley and Payson in Utah County, Stansbury and Tooele out of Tooele County and Uintah, which is located in Vernal. 

Region 7, as it will be known, will now send the Colts from Cottonwood Heights to the extreme eastern portion of Utah, down to the southern tip of Utah County and out toward the west desert in what will be the most geographically diverse league Cottonwood has ever experienced. 

Southwick added that his athletic program is looking forward to the drastic change from the citywide league the Colts participated in. 

“If you keep doing the same thing you’ll get the same results,” Southwick said. “From top to bottom we’ll be more competitive.” 

Not everyone is as excited as Southwick about the new region, he added. Some of the Cottonwood parents and constituents are unhappy about the length of travel. 

Coaches opinions on competing in the new region are primarily positive, according to Southwick. He did say they expressed concern that the road trips to Utah County, Tooele County and to Vernal will take more time away from their families. All told, reaching these destinations in the new region will add 600 miles to their bus rides, a fact to which Southwick, himself a former coach, is sympathetic. 

“My thoughts are, let’s try it for two years and see what it does,” Southwick said. “If it doesn’t work we’ll try to get back into the region we’ve been in for years.” 

As for the Cottonwood teams entering this new Region 7, Southwick said he likes where the programs sit. “In baseball, we have a top-notch program and we’re really excited because Chris [Shelton, the new head coach replacing Jason Crawford, now an assistant coach at SLCC] has been an assistant for many years.” Crawford will obviously be missed, Southwick added, but moving Shelton into the top job “was really a no-brainer.” 

Southwick acknowledged that the softball team will be going into a tough region with perennial powers like Tooele and Stansbury waiting, but he is “happy with the growth in that program too.” And he added that coach Ron Lockwood from Cottonwood’s powerhouse swimming team told him: “I don’t care where we go; I just want to swim.” 

In other news, the UHSAA also ruled that Cottonwood will stay independent in football for at least two more years. “There’s pros and cons with it,” Southwick said. “We’re trying to rebuild the program and we’ve got to let the coach make those decisions.”  

While some may look at Cottonwood’s realignment in all sports but football as one that’s risky, Southwick said there was one determinant factor behind this move. 

“Every decision we make is in the best interest of the kids,” he said.

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