Last year the Kanab football team did its job. It reached the state championship only to suffer a heartbreaking defeat. The memory of the loss remains – but as motivation.
"I think our kids will look at it and take it for what it is. They had a good season last year and I don't think anybody hung their heads," said Kanab head coach Bucky Orton, "I think they'll challenge themselves to pay attention to the extra things that help you win championships."
This year, however, much larger and difficult obstacles stand in the way of making it back to the state championship with the advancement of classification to play 2A ball. Fortunately for them, the Cowboys still have the talent to make some noise.
Quarterback, Craig Brinkerhoff returns to run the spread after tossing for 24 touchdowns the previous season. He's joined by slotback Justin Orton who can leave defenders in the dust once he breaks the line of scrimmage.
Tight end Rhees Jackson will be looking for Brinkerhoff's full attention on short yardage downs. He possesses both size and skill and has the possibility of being a game breaker every play. "This kid is gonna be a dandy," stated Orton.
"We're bumpin' up, so every game will be tougher week in and week out. (The players are) gonna be prepared. With each week (the players will) gain more urgency and detail. This year (we) need to show up every week and be ready to play a tough opponent," remarked Orton.
The only question marks hanging over the team offensively is the lack experience on the line with only one returning starter. Orton, nonetheless, is confident that with time and more first team reps, the concern will dissipate.
Despite the talent on offense, expect the Cowboys to shine on defense. With a base 4-3, they look to bring consistent pressure with stunts and blitzes with playmakers like Orton lingering in the secondary.
If the new contributors can step up and adapt to the adversity of playing on a larger scale of competition, Kanab will be a contender right away.
Kanab Cowboys at a glance
High school football: Kanab Cowboys 2009 preview is in his 7th year at Kanab with a 58-16 record.
Key Players: Craig Brinkerhoff looks to establish a balanced offense with Justin Orton and Rhees Jackson, both of whom are very valuable in third and short or goal-line situations.
Strengths: The defense in whole should be extremely productive. The Cowboys are deep in every layer on defense and look to take advantage of their athleticism.
Concerns: Without a strong offensive line, Brinkerhoff will be forced to scramble, directly leading to loss of yards – forcing them to leave the comfort zone of being a balanced offense. The success of the line goes hand in hand with the success of the team.
Last year: 9-4, lost in 1A state championship.
Predicted 2A West finish: Third.
Postseason possibilities: Moving up in classification will be no picnic. Kanab must take advantage of defending the home field. If they are able to focus each and every week and bring their best efforts, it isn't a fantasy to make the playoffs.
Aug. 21 — at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — VIRGIN VALLEY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 — DIXIE JV, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at Millard, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — ENTERPRISE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Parowan, 7 p.m.