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High school football: Kanab Cowboys 2013 preview

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Note: Kanab finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2012 and was fifth in 2A South with a 3-4 record. It lost to Emery 61-30 in the first round of the 2A playoffs.

The Kanab football team is going to look a little different this year — and so will its opponents.

After four seasons of 2A ball, the Cowboys, who return just four starters from a season ago, are headed back to the 1A classification, an arena in which they were previously quite successful, reaching four consecutive title games and winning two between 2005 and 2008.

“In 2A, we wanted to be competitive,” said head coach Bucky Orton. “In 1A, the pressure is on. We are the biggest 1A football school, and that comes with expectations.”

While the amount of travel does not differ much for Kanab, a school situated in the southern-most section of central Utah, the direction the bus is headed does change. Most notably, in the fifth week of the season, the Cowboys are bound for the home of the winner of the last three 1A state championships, the Duchesne Eagles.

The first item on Orton’s to-do list, however, is to get his first-year quarterback up to speed.

“Our two (returning quarterbacks) moved out of town,” the coach said, explaining how senior Merrill Terry, a former halfback with little to no QB experience, got the job.

“He did a decent job at camp with poise and willingness to jump into the role,” Orton said. “He has a quiet confidence. The position is not bigger than him, and he is fast.”

Along with Terry, the Cowboys are starting over in many positions. Kanab's coach said he has a roster full of kids with quick feet.

“I was pleasantly surprised with our team speed,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was prepared for. A lot of kids did a lot of great work in the offseason.”

Senior Taylor Glover is the top returning rusher, while Hadin Jones is the top returning receiver. Orton anticipates both players will continue where they left off, and senior tight end and linebacker Dan Ramsay will step right into a similar stride.

“I expect big things on both sides of the ball from him,” the coach said of Ramsay. “He has had a lot of improvement this summer in the weight room.”

Luke Crosby, a running back and outside linebacker, adds experience to a roster with limited returners. While he totaled just 150 total yards and two scores on offense a season ago, the senior knows his way around the defensive side of things. He led the Cowboys with 40 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in 2012.

“He played every position on defense last year,” Orton said. “He is very versatile, a great runner, and willing to do whatever is asked of him. And he is capable to fill all those positions too.”

Orton added that he is pleased with the amount of chemistry already showing up among the team members and, with the number of open positions left, expects good competition in the fight for time on the field. Still, he wants his team to add a little more to its on-field presence.

“I would like to see these guys play right on the edge, play hard and with a defensive mentality,” he said. “To win big games and to win championships, you have to play with a defensive mentality.”

Kanab Cowboys at a glance

Coach: Bucky Orton is entering his 11th season as Kanab’s head coach. He has led the Cowboys to a 78-38 record. He is also a graduate of Kanab High.

Offense (4 returning starters, multiple formations) Senior Merrill Terry is sliding into an open quarterback position that was left vacant when both experienced returners moved out of town. He will rely on the solid play of linemen Madison Knape, Nate Bowman, Dominiq Rios and Daven Russell. Receiver Hadin Jones, tight end Dan Ramsay, and running backs Taylor Glover and Luke Crosby will step back into the offense in their team's return to 1A.

Defense (4 returning starters) Knape, Bowman, Rios and Russell will also anchor the Kanab defense from the line while Glover and Ramsay will work as linebackers and Terry and Jones work as defensive backs. Crosby will be primarily used as a linebacker, but has great versatility and spent last year working his way through each of the positions on defense.

Coaches preseason 1A South straw poll: First

Deseret News 1A South prediction: First

Bottom line: With just four returning starters, the Cowboys need to get experience, and do it fast. They have found team chemistry but need their quarterback to become comfortable with his new spot on the field. Kanab suddenly became the largest school in its classification, which is both a benefit and a burden, imposing new pressures on the team that dominated the class the last time it was in this position.

Kanab coaching history

2003-current — Bucky Orton (78-38)

2002 — Dwaine Hatch (9-2)

1994-2001 — Rod Quarnberg (43-38)

1965-1993 — Arlyn Hafen (210-91)

1962-1964 — Steve Lunt (15-8-2)

1959-1961 — Louis Chatterly (10-11)

1957-1958 — Boyd Adams (4-10-1)

1950-1956 — unknown (10-19-3)

1949 — David Gates (4-2)


Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

2007 — Logan Mazzettia, RB/LB

2005 — Tyler Ramsay, RB/LB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2012 — Brandon Jenson, QB/DB

2011 — Dylan Hill, OL/DL

2010 — Cody Barber, RB/LB

2009 — Rhees Jackson, WR/DE

2009 — Stetson Crandall, OL/LB

2008 — Craig Brinkerhoff, QB/DB

2008 — Bryce Hafen, RB/LB

2008 — Justin Orton, WR/DB

2007 — Ty Bunting, TE/DL

2007 — Thomas Quist, RB/DB

2007 — Levi Vincent, RB/LB

2007 — Rick Visser, OL/DL

2006 — Mitch Glazier, QB/DB

2006 — Shaun Johnson, RB/LB

2006 — TJ Reidhead, LB

2006 — Julius Visser, OL/DL

2005 — Tannner Chamberlain, WR/DE

2005 — Mitchell Glazier, QB/SS

2005 — Caleb Vincent, RB/LB

2004 — Brandon Brown, RB

2004 — Evan Orton, RB

2004 — Sterling Glover, TE

2003 — Evan Orton, RB

2003 — Justin Frost, DL

2003 — Kelly Brown, LB

2003 — Brandon Brown, DB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.