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High school football: Kanab Cowboys 2018 preview

Note: Kanab finished with a 5-7 overall record in 2017 and was third in 1A South with a 1-2 record. It lost to Milford 38-20 in the 1A semifinals.

Kanab 2017 Offensive and Defensive Stats

KANAB — Following appearances in the 1A state championship game in 2015 and 2016, there was optimism around the Kanab Cowboys football program that 2017 would be another good year.

Beset by injuries, however, the Cowboys finished just 5-7, their worst record since 2010, although they did win their first-round playoff game against Layton Christian Academy before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Milford.

Now as Kanab moves into the 2018 campaign, head coach Bucky Orton and company certainly hope to have better health, but Orton isn’t quite sure what to expect given the youth on his roster, as he’s got just three starters returning on offense and four on defense.

“We have some good players still, but the varsity experience is not nearly as good as it has been the last three years for sure,” Orton said. “The last three years we’ve had a lot of returners coming back and we’ve had a lot of experience. This year we still have some good kids in our program, it’s just a lot of them haven’t had varsity experience.”

The good news for Orton is that a bunch of the players who are primed to be key contributors have had success at the junior varsity level, and while that’s a different beast, the coach hopes the winning attitude players developed there can translate to the varsity level.

“I think it’s confidence for kids for sure,” he said. “I think the kids that know how to win at whatever level they are, they know how to win and then they rise up and figure out a way to win. I think it might take us a few months to figure it out, but it might not. I don’t know.”

In any event, Orton doesn’t totally mind thinking of his group as underdogs, even if history would indicate they’ll find a way to at least be in the mix come playoff time.

“Just a good, solid group of kids that want to work hard, that are willing to pay the price," he said. "That’s all you can ask for as a coach, is a good bunch of kids that’ll show up with the right attitude and will put it out there time and time again. I’m looking forward to coaching them.”'

Kanab Cowboys at a glance

Coach: Bucky Orton is entering his 16th season as the Cowboys’ head coach. A graduate of Kanab High, Orton has won two state championships while at the helm of the program.

Kanab offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Bucky Orton

2017 offensive production: 18.9 ppg (4th in 1A)

  • 3 returning starters
  • Spread offense

Returning offensive starters:

Offensive newcomers to watch

Orton’s comments on quarterback Sam Orton:

“He’s phenomenal. Sam’s a phenomenal quarterback. I’m not saying that because he’s my nephew. He’s phenomenal. He’s good, really talented, so I expect great things out of him...he’s got to play like a senior as a junior. I expect him to do that, and I think he’ll carry whatever load we ask him to carry.”

Orton’s comments on son Dawson Orton as the only returning offensive lineman:

“He needs to step up and be a leader, and I expect him to. Whether or not he’s going to do it, we’ll see, but I believe in him. I believe he’s got what it takes to lead us, and I believe that he’s going to expect a lot out of kids and hold them accountable and help lead that group of kids.”

Keys for offensive success:

How quickly can the bevy of varsity newcomers get acclimated to a higher level of play? Can Sam Orton lead the way at quarterback after emerging as the starter at the end of the 2017 season? How well can the offensive line mesh, and how will that wind up impacting the run game?

Kanab defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Coby Glover

2017 defensive production: 17.8 ppg (4th in 1A)

  • 4 returning starters
  • 4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

  • Cody Stubbs (LB)
  • Dallon Whitesides (LB)
  • Sam Orton (DB)
  • Marcus Fox (DB)

Defensive newcomers to watch

  • Clay Shakespear (LB)
  • Kyle Blomquist (LB)
  • Dawson Orton (DL)
  • Carter Jackman (LB)
  • Jerome Johnson (LB)

Orton’s comments on the defensive line:

“If we can just be nasty—I think we’re going to have us some big-sized kids—if we can get them firing off and playing nasty, we’ll be alright.”

Orton’s comments on linebackers Cody Stubbs and Dallon Whitesides:

“Cody and Dallon are our two seniors, and they need to kind of hold the fort down.”

Keys for defensive success:

After finishing in the middle of the pack in 1A defensively in 2017, can the Cowboys take a step forward? The line will be inexperienced, but Orton has confidence the group’s size can make up for that. Will that prove to be the case? Will there prove to be enough playmakers at linebacker and secondary to make the defense go?

Coaches preseason 1A South straw poll: First

Deseret News 1A South prediction: First

Key region game: Oct. 5 vs. Milford

Bottom line:

With the history of success the Cowboys have, it’s hard to imagine that, assuming they stay healthy, they’ll have too much of a down year in 2018 even with the inexperience on the roster. Nevertheless, the group will have to prove that it can play at the highest level, which could take some time. Can Kanab have things figured out at least by the end of the regular season and make noise in the playoffs once again?

2018 Schedule

  • Aug. 17 — at South Sevier, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 24 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.
  • Aug. 31 — at Richfield, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 7 — ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 14 — at Duchesne, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 21 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 28 — at Rich, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 5 — Milford, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 12 — PAROWAN, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 18 — at Monticello, 7 p.m.

Felts Facts

All-time record: 421-243-7 (68 years)

Region championships: 22 (1963, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 co, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989 co, 1994 co, 2002 co, 2004 co, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013 co, 2016)

Playoff appearances: 48

Current playoff appearance streak: 5 (2013-2017)

All-time playoff record: 57-39

State championships: 9 (1974, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2005, 2007)

State championship record: 9-8

Most played rivalry: 89 meetings with Beaver dating back to 1950. Beaver leads 51-38.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Kanab was the last team to shut out every playoff opponent. The Cowboys whitewashed all three opponents in capturing the 1986 Class 1A title. ... In the championship game that year, Kanab intercepted seven passes, tying a championship-game record. Nolan Redhead snared picked off three passes himself to set the title-game record for an individual. … Cowboy Brad Dastrup returned seven punts for touchdowns during the 1988 season to set the state record.

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Last 5

  • 2017 — 5-7 (1-2 in 1A South - 1A Semifinals)
  • 2016 — 11-2 (4-0 in 1A South – 1A Runner-up)
  • 2015 — 9-4 (3-1 in 1A South – 1A Runner-up)
  • 2014 — 6-6 (2-2 in 1A South – 1A Semifinals)
  • 2013 — 6-6 (3-1 in 1A South – 1A Semifinals)

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Kanab coaching history

  • 2003-current — Bucky Orton (115-63)
  • 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)

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Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

  • 2007 — Logan Mazzettia, RB/LB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2017 — Jake Shakespear, OL/DL
  • 2017 — Parker Collins, TE/LB
  • 2017 — Tavin Ott, QB/DB
  • 2016 — Tavin Ott, QB
  • 2016 — Monte Glover, WR/DB
  • 2016 — Layne Anderson, WR/DB
  • 2016 — Kason Whitesides, WR/LB
  • 2016 — Derrik Fox, OL/LB
  • 2016 — Morgan Barton, OL/DL
  • 2016 — Jaxson Giddings, OL/DL
  • 2015 — Alex Foster, RB/LB
  • 2015 — Brandon Southwick, RB/WR
  • 2015 — Derrik Fox, OL/LB
  • 2015 — Morgan Barton, OL/DL
  • 2015 — Danion Barnson, DE
  • 2014 — Aaron Foster, RB/LB
  • 2014 — Davin Houston, WR/DB
  • 2014 — Cody Glover, TE/LB
  • 2014 — Derrik Fox, OL/LB
  • 2013 — Merrill Terry, QB/CB
  • 2013 — Luke Crosby, RB/LB
  • 2013 — Hadin Jones, WR/S
  • 2013 — Nate Bowman, OL/DL
  • 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

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