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High school football: Duchesne Eagles 2019 preview

Note: Duchesne finished with an 8-5 record in 2018 and was first in 1A North with a 3-0 record. It lost to Milford 45-14 in the 1A championship.

Duchesne 2018 Offensive and Defensive Stats

DUCHESNE — The Duchesne Eagles have won four state championships and over 77% of their games in 12 seasons under head coach Jerry Cowan, even having success in years he wasn’t supremely confident heading in.

So when Cowan says he feels good about where his team is at as the 2019 season gets set to start, it probably means the Eagles really are primed for success.

“We have a good upper class,” he said. “We were young last year, and this year we’re not young. We’re in a good spot ... it’s just a matter of making it all come together now.”

In 2018, the young Duchesne team started just 3-4 playing a tough schedule, but then won five in a row and made it to the 1A championship game, where it fell to the mighty Milford Tigers.

Cowan doesn’t necessarily think much momentum will carry over from the good finish since his team will be moving to 2A this fall and thus will face a bunch of unfamiliar teams, but he does feel his squad is set up about as well as possible to make the jump up in classification given he has nine returning starters on offense and seven on defense.

“I think there’s a lot of years if we were to make this move, we would have been in trouble personnel-wise,” he said, “but I think this year is as good as we’re going to be as far as numbers and personnel and upperclassmen.

"When you jump up and you’re playing bigger schools, it becomes a numbers game, especially at the smaller level. If the teams outnumber you 2-to-1, then it’s really tough to compete. At least for this year, we’re going to be right there with all those other teams as far as upperclassmen, I believe.”

Duchesne Eagles at a glance

Coach: Jerry Cowan is entering his 13th season as head coach at Duchesne. He has compiled a record of 108-32.

Cowan’s comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“To be honest with you, it’s probably going to be good in a lot of situations — basketball. For football, I don’t know. It’s a little worrisome ... it’s going to be interesting. You could actually win all your games and possibly not be a No. 1 or 2 seed if your region’s not very good. That’s the crappy part, because you can’t decide who you play. For us, we’ve just got to win all our games and give ourselves the best seeding we can get.”

Duchesne offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: Wyatt Gines

2018 offensive production: 18.5 ppg (6th in 1A)

— Nine returning starters

— Pistol Wing T offense

Returning offensive starters

Kason Grant (QB)

Gavin Davis (RB)

Kaleb Sanchez (RB)

Brock Ford (TE)

Skyler Ford (RB)

Ryker Blackburn (OL)

Jose Guerrero (OL)

Cael Skewes (OL)

Dominic Mellor (OL)

Cowan’s comments on his offensive line:

“It really comes down to up front for us. Last year we only had one senior lineman, so we have four returners. They’re all going to be better. Are they going to be good enough is the question … for us, up front will be our defining factor whether we’re going to be good or really good.”

Cowan’s comments on the depth of his team:

“I think there will be a lot of competition. I think there will be guys that, if they don’t perform, there’ll be another guy behind them that hopefully will be equally as good. I feel like we’re in a good spot that way. We’re not dead if somebody goes down or if somebody is not performing ... that’s kind of rare for us as far as being two deep in a lot of spots.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

It stands to reason that Duchesne will be better offensively than it was in 2018 because of the fact so many players will return, but of course players will still need to make a leap. As Cowan pointed out, that’s especially the case for the offensive line that was young a year ago. Can that unit help the skill position players flourish, or will it hinder them?

Duchesne defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Justin Parker

2018 defensive production: 16.4 ppg (3rd in 1A)

— Seven returning starters

— 4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Skyler Ford (DL)

Brock Ford (DL)

Ryker Blackburn (DL)

Brock Adams (DL)

Jordan Clayburn (LB)

Kaleb Sanchez (LB)

Gavin Davis (DB)

Cowan’s comments on the defensive line:

“Where our biggest question mark on offense is offensive line, our best part of our defense is our defensive line. I don’t know how that worked out that way. That’s our strength, and I think everything behind them will be solid.”

Cowan’s comments on the linebackers:

“We did lose a good middle linebacker. That’ll probably be our biggest question mark defensively, but we’ve got guys. It’s just a matter of which guys will be where.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

If the line really does perform like Cowan anticipates, the Eagles will have a good foundation to be their typically stingy selves. That said, the other position groups will still need to perform well. Cowan also expressed the idea that having a large number of seniors could lead to a bunch of players having “me-first” attitudes, something the coach obviously would want to curb. If everyone does their jobs, however, Duchesne could be excellent defensively.

Bottom line

Can players across the board improve from last season? Given the fact so many starters return from 2018, that will be the biggest question for the Eagles. If players can get better, the fact they’ve almost all played together so much should make Duchesne very good this year. If the group as a whole doesn’t improve much, it should still be very good, but perhaps not quite good enough to play for a championship since it is moving up a classification.

Coaches preseason 2A North straw poll: First

Deseret News 2A North prediction: First

Key region game: Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Layton Christian

2019 Schedule

Aug. 16 — ENTERPRISE, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — at Parowan, 7 p.m.

Aug. 29 — CARBON, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — at Milford, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — at North Summit, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — MONTICELLO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Gunnison Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — RICH, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Altamont, 7 p.m.

….

Felts Facts for Duchesne High School

All-time record: 265-212-1 (48 years)

Region championships: 15 (1983 co, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Playoff appearances: 89

Current playoff appearance streak: 19 (2000-2018)

All-time playoff record: 37-33

State championships: 6 (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)

State championship record: 6-5

Most played rivalry: 69 meetings with Altamont dating back to 1973. Duchesne leads 43-27.

Felt’s Factoids: 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.

...

Last 5

  • 2018 — 8-5 (3-0 in 1A North – 1A Runner-up)
  • 2017 — 10-2 (3-0 in 1A North – 1A Runner-up)
  • 2016 — 11-1 (4-0 in 1A North – 1A Champions)
  • 2015 — 8-3 (4-0 in 1A North – 1A Semifinals)
  • 2014 — 6-4 (2-1 in 1A North – 1A Quarterfinals)

...

Duchesne coaching history

  • 2012-current — Jerry Cowan (108-32)
  • 2008-2011 — Bill Hoopes (36-12)
  • 2003-2007 — Jerry Cowan (40-17)
  • 2000-2002 — Colby Knight (10-19)
  • 1999 — Brian Berrong (1-8)
  • 1996-1998 — Don Hill (9-21)
  • 1993-1995 — Dave Woolstenhulme (17-13)
  • 1987-1992 — Rick Durban (27-30)
  • 1984-1986 — Stan Young (23-8)
  • 1981-1983 — Rick Durban (14-16)
  • 1979-1980 — Robert Cook (9-9)
  • 1977-1978 — John Dowell (3-14)
  • 1974-1976 — Ed Browning (3-21)
  • 1973 — Russ Shirts (5-5)

.....

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

  • 2016 — Steven Skewes, RB/LB
  • 2013 — Trent Roberts, QB/LB
  • 2012 — Kaden Moon, RB/LB
  • 2011 — Max Lewis, OL/DL
  • 2010 — Grant Marett, OL/DL

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Jaren Mortensen, RB/FS
  • 2018 — Dillon Moon, OL/LB
  • 2018 — Gavin Davis, WR/DB
  • 2018 — Brock Ford, TE/DL
  • 2018 — Skyler Ford, RB/DL
  • 2017 — Kade Lamborn, CB/SS
  • 2017 — Jack Roberts, OL/DL
  • 2017 — Jaren Mortensen, RB/FS
  • 2017 — Weston Poulson, RB/LB
  • 2017 — Jarett Spencer, QB/DB
  • 2016 — Weston Poulson, RB/LB
  • 2016 — Chad Lewis, WR/DB
  • 2016 — Jaren Mortensen, TE/DB
  • 2016 — Aaron Verduzco, OL/DL
  • 2016 — Kenyen Kielbasa, OL/LB
  • 2016 — Jack Roberts, OL/DL
  • 2015 — Carsen Reinhardt, QB/DB
  • 2015 — Layne Coil, RB/FS
  • 2015 — Wyatt Remund, TE/FS
  • 2015 — Aaron Verduzco, OL/DL
  • 2014 — Dylan Despain, RB/LB
  • 2014 — Jesse Wickel, OL/DL
  • 2013 — Matt Muir, RB/DB
  • 2013 — Colin Moon, Duchesne, RB/DB
  • 2013 — Dylan Despain, RB/LB
  • 2013 — Matt Dye, FB/DL
  • 2013 — Braxton Spencer, WR/LB
  • 2012 — Trent Roberts, QB/LB
  • 2012 — Josh Hanberg, RB/DB
  • 2012 — McKade Nielsen, TE/FS
  • 2012 — Jesus Pena, OL/DL
  • 2012 — Wade Shepard, OL/DL
  • 2012 — Cassidy Smith, OL/DL
  • 2011 — Shiaba Allen, QB/LB
  • 2011 — Braiden Despain, RB/LB
  • 2011 — Macoy Young, RB/DB
  • 2011 — McKade Nielsen, TE/DB
  • 2011 — Kane Nealley, OL/LB
  • 2010 — Shiaba Allen, QB/LB
  • 2010 — Braiden Despain, RB/LB
  • 2010 — Max Lewis, OL/DL
  • 2010 — Devin Fabrizi, RB/LB
  • 2010 — Kane Nealley, OL/DL
  • 2010 — Austin Poulson, OL/DL
  • 2009 — Travis Potter, RB/LB
  • 2009 — Austin Thompson, OL/DL
  • 2009 — Jacob Verde, RB/LB
  • 2009 — Kyle Wilkerson, OL/DL

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