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High school football: Layton Christian edges out Duchesne as the team to beat in 1A North region

SHARE High school football: Layton Christian edges out Duchesne as the team to beat in 1A North region

Layton Christian and Duchesne compete in the 1A football championship game on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Duchesne climbed back to the top of the 1A football mountain last year for the first time since 2016, and staying hungry to get there again will be the key in 2022.

Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan has been a part of seven state titles over the past 15 years as both a head coach and an assistant, and he said motivating players is always easier coming off a stinging playoff loss rather than winning the title.

“Keeping them motivated is something that we need to be aware,” said Cowan, who’s entering his 16th season as head coach at Duchesne.

Duchesne can’t slip up in the slightest in the 1A North region this year, because region foe Layton Christian is extremely motivated because of one of those stinging losses.

In last year’s 1A state championship between the two programs, Duchesne scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. It’s a loss that’s helped motivate Layton Christian all offseason.

It’s also helped coach Ray Stowers sell the message to his players about what building a championship program looks like, with Duchesne providing a pretty good blueprint over the past decade and a half.

“We just have to learn to operate like champions and that’s every day with what we do. It all starts with preparation, it starts in the classroom and how we live our lives every day, and these kids are starting to understand that. Learning to respect the process,” said Stowers.

Duchesne and Layton Christian finished 1-2 in the 1A North standings a year ago, but in the coaches preseason projections many expect those results to flip this fall.

A big reason is Layton Christian’s eight returning starters on both offense and defense. Offensively that includes the return of 1,000-yard rusher Jessaia Moala and then standout receiver Malik Johnson.

Anchoring the defense is stud middle linebacker Matthew Maliff and D-lineman Tevita Pome’e.

“It’s not just one guy when it comes to our football team, there’s a couple of guys who will be in those leader roles to help lead our program,” said Stowers.

While Duchesne lost several more key contributors than Layton Christian did, Cowan’s team still returns six starters back on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Parker Crum who passed for 22 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards as a sophomore a year ago.

In the ever-changing pace of 1A football, don’t be surprised if Crum throws even more TDs this fall.

“We threw it more last year than we ever have, and I think we’ll keep increasing that with him and the whole offensive style that we’ve got going,” said Cowan.

Being the perceived slight underdog to Layton Christian heading into the 2022 season is the furthest thing from Cowan’s mind this summer.

“For us, we can’t even worry about that. We just have to worry on Week 1 and Milford and go from there. We can’t really start sizing ourselves up to anyone else because that just gets discouraging,” said Cowan.

North Summit finished third in the 1A North region a year ago, and despite having big holes to fill offensively it figures to be even better in year 2 of coach Jerre Holmes’ return to the sideline.

Jake Smith takes over at quarterback this year and the sophomore begins the season with big expectations for what the next three season may bring.

A year ago there was a huge drop after the top three in the 1A North region with Rich and Monticello going a combined 3-17. This season, both programs are opting to play an independent schedule, with North Sevier and Gunnison Valley both shifting from the South region to the North region. Both teams finished in the bottom two spots of their region as well last year, and cracking the top three will be no easy task with the depth of programs like Duchesne and Layton Christian.

North Sevier coach Wyatt Mason is hopeful though as his team returns seven starters on both sides of the ball from a group that posted a 6-5 record.

Gunnison Valley will play a couple of games in the newly-created eight-man league. The format of that playoff and which state tournament Gunnison will participate in hasn’t been determined yet.

1A North projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Layton Christian Eagles


2021 record: 9-5 (second in 1A North with a 3-1 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 6 in 1A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Duchesne, 18-14, in the 1A championship.

All-time record: 70-114 (18 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

2022 schedule

Head coach: Ray Stowers. Entering his second season as head coach at Layton Christian after a strong 9-5 debut season a year ago. He’s a graduate of Iolani High School in Hawaii and the University of Utah. Prior to taking the LCA job he was an administrative assistant at the University of Utah.

Coach Ray Stowers’s general outlook: Looking forward to seeing how our team respond after their first year. I expect the rising seniors to take ownership of this program. It is their team. We have raised the bar through our schedule and we are excited for the challenge! We’ll find out what we’re made of.

Offensive coordinator: Ray Stowers.

2021 offense: 29.9 ppg (No. 2 in 1A).

  • Eight returning starters.
  • Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Tevita Pome’e.
  • Aiden Koski.
  • Eli Thompson.
  • Seisoni Felila.
  • Jessaia Giatras-Moala.
  • Malik Johnson.
  • Ilai Tagidugu.
  • Oaklin Sandoval.

Key offensive newcomers

Micah Ellis, Sr., OT.

Defensive coordinator: Cory Jones.

2021 defense: 13 ppg (No. 2 in 1A).

  • Eight returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Tevita Pome’e.
  • Iverson Report.
  • Manu Vaitaki.
  • Matthew Bailiff.
  • Jessaia Giatras-Moala.
  • Malik Johnson.
  • Ilai Tagidugu.
  • Max Montgomery.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Zoram Petelo, Sr., DE.

2. Duchesne Eagles


2021 record: 11-1 (first in 1A North with a 4-0 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 1 in 1A.

2021 postseason: Beat Layton Christian, 18-14, in the 1A championship.

All-time record: 297-216-1 (51 years).

State titles: 7 (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2020).

Region titles: 18 (1983 co, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jerry Cowan. Entering his 16th season as head coach at Duchesne, which has been spread out over two stints. He’s amassed a 140-36 record during that stretch, including state titles in 2006, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2020. He’s a graduate of Grand High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Jerry Cowan’s general outlook: Like many teams coming off a championship we lost a good group of seniors. Our offensive line will be one of our strengths. Anchored by returning starters Branson Hartman, and Weston and Bryant Mullins we are experienced. We have eight kids or so fighting for those five spots. We bring back three starting skill players all juniors. Quarterback Parker Crum will lead our offensive attack and Cade Gines and Draker Goodliffe will be back at skill positions. All three were huge contributors for us last season. We will need a few guys with minimal experience to step up in the remaining positions.

Defensively we bring back six returning starters. Hartman will anchor our line. Crum, Goodliffe, Gines, along with Gatlin Farnsworth, and Colter Giles are all returning at defensive skill. We will be strong there. Question mark will be defensive line.

Offensive coordinator: Wyatt Gines.

2021 offense: 35.1 ppg (No. 1 in 1A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • Wing T (Gun).

Returning offensive starters

  • Parker Crum, QB.
  • Draker Goodliffe, WR.
  • Cade Gines, Slot.
  • Branson hartman, OG.
  • Weston Mullins, OT.
  • Bryant Mullins, OT.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Colter Giles, Slot.
  • Britton Poulson, OG.
  • Heston Wimmer, C.
  • Andre Fabrizio, OT/C.
  • Dallin Porter, TE.
  • Gatlin Farnsworth, RB.

Defensive coordinator: Justin Parker.

Duchesne defense: 12.8 ppg (No. 1 in 1A).

  • Six returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Branson Hartman, DL.
  • Parker Crum, FS.
  • Cade Gines, LB.
  • Draker Goodliffe, DB.
  • Gatlin Farnsworth, LB.
  • Colter Giles, DB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Zayde Walker, DL.
  • Dallin Porter, DL/LB.
  • Hunter Gardner, DB.

3. North Summit Braves


2021 record: 5-6 (third in 1A North with a 2-2 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 7 in 1A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Kanab, 23-6, in the 1A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 455-409-23 (96 years).

State titles: 7 (1964, 1972, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2007, 2008).

Region titles: 22 (1928, 1929, 1930 co, 1937, 1955, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 co, 1978, 1983 co, 1989, 1990, 1991 co, 2006, 2007, 2013 co).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jerre Holmes. Is entering his second year in his second stint as North Summit head coach, and 21st overall season as a football head coach. In his previous stint at North Summit from 2000 to 2010 he racked up a 74-53 record with state titles in 2006 and 2007. Prior to that he coached at Rich from 1991 to 1999 where his teams went 67-30, including state titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996. His overall coaching record is 141-80. He’s a graduate of Cokeville High School in Wyoming and the University of Utah.

Coach Jerre Holmes’s general outlook: We have many open positions due to graduating a lot of our starters. We are excited about our upcoming players challenging for those positions. A lot of our guys have bought into working hard in the weight room, and we are excited to see their growth.

Offensive coordinator: Devin Smith.

2021 offense: 17.7 ppg (No. 8 in 1A).

  • Three returning starters.
  • Option offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Ian Koyle, Sr., RB.
  • Walker Woolstenhulme, Sr., OL.
  • Nathan Stolle, Sr., OL.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Rhyley Brundy, Sr., RB/Slot.
  • Mel Brown, Sr., WR.
  • Jake Smith, So., QB.
  • Buck Sargent, So., TE.
  • McCade Nelson, So., RB.
  • Many capable linemen will be challenging for OL positions.

Defensive coordinator: Jerre Holmes.

2021 defense: 20.6 ppg (No. 7 in 1A).

  • Five returning starters.
  • 4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Ian Koyle, Sr., DB.
  • Adrian Chavez, Sr., DT.
  • Tristan Ovard, Jr., LB.
  • Cutler Blonquist, Jr., NG/LB.
  • Jake Smith, So., DB.
  • Buck Sargent, So., LB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Rhyley Brundy, Sr., LB.
  • Sydney Richins, Sr., Edge.
  • Jack Richins, Sr., DB.
  • Carter McCowen, Jr., DB.
  • McCade Nelson, So., Edge.
  • Brenden Smith, So., DT.
  • Logan Judd, So., DT.
  • Wylee Staples, Sr., DT.

4. North Sevier Wolves


2021 record: 6-5 (fifth in 1A South with a 1-4 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 5 in 1A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Milford, 35-21, in the 1A quarterfinals.

All-time record: 169-365-2 (63 years).

State titles: 1 (2008).

Region titles: 2 (1977 co, 1996).

2022 schedule

Head coach: Wyatt Mason. Entering his third season as head coach at his alma mater, which he led to a 1A state title as a player in 2008. North Sevier posted a 9-13 record under Mason the past two years. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah University.

Coach Wyatt Mason’s general outlook: There is a lot to be excited about this year. We are coming off a winning season which is something we have only done two times in the past 12 years. Our players and community have high expectations for ourselves and want to continue to build on our recent success. We have a very large senior class with a lot of experience returning on both sides of the ball. Our goal is to be in the conversation and competing for a championship at the end of the season.

Offensive coordinator: Wyatt Mason.

2021 offense: 24.4 ppg (No. 6 in 1A).

  • Seven returning starters.
  • Pro Style offense.

Returning offensive starters

  • Kannin Boswell, Sr., QB (moved from RB).
  • Clayton Duckworth, Sr., C.
  • Blaine Anderson, Sr., G.
  • Brogan Malmgren, Sr., T.
  • Jace Noyes, Jr., T.
  • Tyler Foote, Sr., WR.
  • Kyson Bosshardt, Sr., WR.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Aaron Gale, Sr., RB.
  • Devin Hone, Sr., OL.
  • Dean Anderson, So., OL.
  • Mason Pierce, So., WR.
  • James Crowley, So., RB.

Defensive coordinator: Riley Tidlund

2021 defense: 18.0 ppg (No. 5 in 1A).

  • Seven returning starters.
  • 4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Kannin Boswell, Sr., DB.
  • Kyson Bosshardt, Sr., DB.
  • Tyler Foote, Sr., DB.
  • Clayton Duckworth, Sr., DT.
  • Brogan Malmgren, Sr., DT
  • Blaine Anderson, Sr., LB.
  • Aaron Gale, Sr., LB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Jace Noyes, Jr., DL.
  • Kayden Johnson, Jr., DB.
  • James Crowley, So., DB.
  • Brandon Vought, So., DL.
  • Cooper Thurston, So., LB.

5. Gunnison Valley Bulldogs


2021 record: 3-7 (sixth in 1A South with a 0-5 record).

2021 RPI ranking: No. 9 in 1A.

2021 postseason: Lost to Parowan, 35-8, in the 1A first round.

All-time record: 84-224 (32 years).

State titles: None.

Region titles: None.

2022 schedule

Head coach: Patrick King. The Florida native his heading into his fourth season as head coach at Gunnison Valley, where he’s 9-20 in his first three seasons. Prior to moving to Utah, he was an assistant coach at three different high schools in Florida. He’s a graduate of Middleburg High School in Florida and the University of North Florida.

Coach Patrick King’s general outlook. The Dawgs graduated a host of two-way starters that had played 30 varsity games together in 2021. If the Dawgs are able to rebuild their offensive line, expect another 1,500-plus yards of rushing in 2022. The Dawgs employ one of the most deceptive and effective rushing attacks in all of 1A football with their unique hybrid pro offense. Senior running back Tyrek Hopkins will be the main man while Pearson Judy and Tyson Tucker are also proven runners. Add in scatback Andres Valencia for some depth and defenses will take notice. Senior tight end Skip Jackson found the end zone last season and will look to lead the receiving corps along with senior Austin Jessop as Tucker grows as the full-time starter at QB. Defensively, linebacker Judy is the top playmaker after a 59 tackles last year. Hopkins (47 tackles) and Belnap (18 tackles) will be bookend defensive ends and Valencia will be a new but capable face in the secondary.

Offensive coordinator: Patrick King.

2021 offense: 16.1 ppg (No. 9 in 1A).

  • Four returning starters.
  • Hybrid pro style.

Returning offensive starters

  • Tyrek Hopkins, Sr., RB.
  • Pearson Judy, Jr., FB.
  • Kaleb Belnap, Jr., OT.
  • Skip Jackson, Sr. TE.

Key offensive newcomers

  • Austin Jessop, Sr., WR.
  • Anderson Keith, Jr., C.
  • Tyson Tucker, Jr., QB.
  • Max Draper, So., OG.
  • Andres Valencia, Jr., RB.
  • Sloane Childs, Jr., OL.
  • Koda Corona, Jr., TE.

Defensive coordinator: Timothy King.

2021 defense: 32.4 ppg (No. 9 in 1A).

  • Four returning starters.
  • 4-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

  • Kaleb Belnap, Jr., DE.
  • Tyrek Hopkins, Sr., DE.
  • Pearson Judy, Jr., MLB.
  • Skip Jackson, Sr., MLB.

Key defensive newcomers

  • Tyson Tucker, Jr., OLB.
  • Anderson Keith, Jr., DT.
  • Max Draper, So., DE.
  • Andres Valencia, Jr., CB.
  • Sloane Childs, Jr., DL.
  • Koda Corona, Jr., DE.
  • Austin Jessop, Sr., FS.