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1A high school football preview: Duchesne and Milford looking for a second chance

Duchesne (9-1) vs. Milford (7-3)

1A state tournament semifinals

Friday, 11 a.m. (At Weber State)

Parry’s Power Guide: Duchesne by 16

All-time series: Duchesne leads 19-6

Coach vs. coach: Duchesne’s Jerry Cowan leads Milford’s Thayne Marshall, 4-0

Last meeting: Aug. 19, 2016 (Week 1) – Duchesne 35-9 at Milford

When Duchesne and Milford take the field on Friday afternoon for the 1A football semifinals, both are hoping to make the most of their second chance.

For underdog Milford — which is making its first semifinal appearance since 1999 — it’s hoping to avenge a 35-9 season-opening loss to Duchesne by demonstrating how for the team progressed the past 10 weeks.

For Duchesne, it’s not taking anything for granted. Just because you beat a team in the regular season doesn’t mean you’ll beat them again in the playoffs, a lesson it learned last year against Kanab.

Duchesne beat Kanab in the regular season but then lost in the playoffs on a missed lengthy field goal on the game’s last play.

“Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson,” said Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan.

Realistically, Cowan shouldn’t have a problem convincing his players to disregard their earlier 26-point victory over Milford. The Tigers changed quarterbacks after that game, and freshman Bryson Barnes has been a real bright spot throughout the season.

He’s passed for 1,732 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, and his emergence has also Ty Netto to focus on his strength which is running the football.

Friday’s game at Weber State will be Barnes’ first experience dealing with the pressure of the state semifinals, and how he deals with that pressure could be one of the keys to the game.

“Anytime you’re playing a young quarterback you’ve got to make things difficult for them, mix up coverages,” said Cowan. “The best thing for us to do is not show him the same look every play and try and mix it up and try and make it as tough as we can as far as the mental part.”

Duchesne’s defense has been awesome throughout the year allowing only 10.0 ppg, which includes a 35-6 win over Monticello in last week’s quarterfinals.

Weston Poulson and Steven Skewes both rushed for over 100 yards in the victory, and they’ve combined to rush for 1,390 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.

Milford actually held both running backs relatively in check in their Week 1 meeting, but coach Thayne Marshall said other big plays is what really hurt the Tigers in the loss. Duchesne’s Clay Giles and Kade Lamborn both returned punts for touchdowns in that game, while two other big plays offensively led to other scores.

“We felt like the first game we played against Duchesne we felt good about the way we played we just gave up four great big plays,” said Marshall. “Other than that we felt we played right with him.”

The past three weeks Milford has proven it belongs in the upper half of 1A. In Week 9 it beat Monticello 32-13 for its first victory over the Buckaroos in school history.

It backed it up in the regular season finale with a 42-0 drubbing of defending state champ Diamond Ranch.

“We started our playoffs that (Monticello week) because we knew we wanted to be home for a playoff game because you don’t want to go to Duchesne and you don’t want to go to Rich,” said Marshall.

Last week Milford was poised to polish off Layton Christian midway through the fourth quarter as it marched toward a 21-point lead, but instead fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line. That opened the door for Layton Christian, which scored twice in the final 5:24 of the game, but it missed an extra point with 30 seconds remaining as Milford hung on for the rare semifinal appearance.

Duchesne statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 33.5 ppg (1st in 1A)

Scoring defense: 10.0 ppg (2nd in 1A)

Passing leader: Bryson Barnes (99-172, 1,732 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Ty Netto (138 carries, 614 yards, 11 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Stetson Wright (29 rec., 505 yards, 5 TDs), Jaxon Davis (37 rec., 494 yards, 6 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Trae Williamson (110 tackles), Jaxon Davis (57 tackles)

Sack leaders: Gus Thompson (7 sacks), Ike Keller (5 sacks)

Interception leaders: Ty Netto, Preston Robinson, Colton Pomerinke (2 INTs)

Milford statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 27.0 ppg (3rd in 1A)

Scoring defense: 17.4 ppg (4th in 1A)

Passing leader: Jarett Spencer (47-94, 762 yards, 9 TDs, 8 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Weston Poulson (118 carries, 759 yards, 12 TDs), Steven Skewes (89 carries, 631 yards, 7 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Chad Lewis (20 rec., 280 yards, 4 TDs), Clay Giles (17 rec., 262 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Steven Skewes (83 tackles), Kenyen Kielbasa (59 tackles)

Sack leaders: Skyler Ford (4 sacks)

Interception leaders: Jaren Mortensen, Ammon Graehl (3 INTs)

Felts Facts for Duchesne High School

All-time record: 245-205-1 (46 years)

Region championships: 13 (1983 co, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)

Playoff appearances: 37

Current playoff appearance streak: 17 (2000-2016)

All-time playoff record: 31-31

State championships: 4 (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

State championship record: 5-3

Most played rivalry: 68 meetings with Altamont dating back to 1973. Duchesne leads 41-27.

Felt’s Factoid(s): The Eagles won a state-record 48 games in a row from 2010-14 and became the only school in state history to celebrate three consecutive undefeated, untied seasons (2011-13). Duchesne also captured four straight state titles (2010-13), missing the state record by one. Eagle Matt Muit set the state record for season punt returns, averaging 41.0 yards-per-return in 2013.

Felt’s Facts for Milford High School

All-time record: 223-391-11 (75 years)

Region championships: 3 (1990, 1991, 1999 co)

Playoff appearances: 31

Current playoff appearance streak: 8 (2009-2016)

All-time playoff record: 13-29

State championships: 1 (1993)

State championship record: 1-1

Most played rivalry: 84 meetings with Parowan dating back to 1949. Milford leads 43-38-3.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Tiger Jared Barnes holds the record for single-game safeties (tied with one other), two, against Duchesne in 1993. ... Mike Grajek is one of only 18 coaches to win a state title in his first year (1993).

Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: