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High school football: Clearfield Falcons 2019 preview

Note: Clearfield finished with a 1-8 overall record in 2018 and was seventh in Region 1 with a 0-6 record. It did not qualify for the 6A playoffs.

Clearfield’s 2018 offensive and defensive stats

CLEARFIELD — Heading into last season, Clearfield head coach Andre Dyson had an inkling his team might be in for a rough year.

The Falcons were coming off by far the best season of Dyson’s head coaching tenure, having finished 5-5 overall in 2017.

That team was heavy on seniors, however, and the 2018 version not so much.

Last year’s Falcons had just 12 seniors on the entire roster, and it showed.

Clearfield finished the year 1-8 overall, 0-6 in region play, in what proved to be a forgettable campaign.

“I don’t even know what our record was,” Dyson said. “I do know you never want to go whatever we went.”

“We knew there’d be a learning curve,” he continued. “We hoped we could figure it out and not use it as an excuse. Early on, we did use it as an excuse. Later on, we lost a couple of close games and that was a positive going forward.”

Moving forward — specifically moving from a losing mentality to a winning one — has been the overarching theme of Dyson’s time at his alma mater.

It is a change that has been a long time coming.

“That has been our main issue here, having that winning mentality,” Dyson said. “We don’t get a lot of kids who grow up winning, and they don’t know how to win. They kind of expect to lose.”

This year it might finally be different.

This year, the Falcons — according to Dyson — are his best yet, with the potential to finally bring consistent wins to Clearfield.

“We bring back a lot of guys that have played and started, and a lot of them will only be juniors,” he said. “I think they are ready. They are excited. We finally have a group that has won a little bit and they understand how to win. It is them bringing that winning culture and attitude to those guys who haven’t had that success. I think this is the best offseason we’ve had. As a group, these guys have gelled and they see the big picture. I am excited about this year and hope we make a difference and surprise some people.”

Clearfield Falcons at a glance

Coach: Andre Dyson is entering his sixth season as the head coach of his alma mater. Dyson has compiled a 10-39 overall record with the Falcons. He is a graduate of the University of Utah, as well as a former NFL defensive back (Dyson played seven seasons in the league, suiting up for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets). He coached cornerbacks at Weber State University before taking over at Clearfield in 2013.

Dyson’s comments on new UHSAA RPI:

“Honestly I don’t really think about, I haven’t talked about it and I don’t care too much about it. It is what it is. I don’t know how you can rank a bunch of teams without having seen them play, just going off score, and I am not really big on everyone makes the playoffs. I don’t know where that happens anywhere else. I am not a big fan of that. II think you should earn it, but there is nothing we can do about it now. It is what it is.”

Clearfield offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: By committee

2018 offensive production: 18.7 ppg (18th in 6A)

— 8 returning starters

— Multiple offensive schemes

Key offensive returning starters

Omari Zuniga (RB)

Omari Zuniga is the only returning Falcon to tote the ball 20-plus times a season ago. Zuniga recorded 24 carries in 2018 for a total of 51 yards. His best showing came against Northridge when he carried the ball nine times for 38 yards.

Gage Dicus (WR)

Was one of the Falcons’ best receivers in 2018. Dicus was one of just three Clearfield pass catchers to record more than one touchdown reception. He finished with 10 receptions, 132 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Dicus averaged 13.2 yards per catch.

Returning offensive starters

Gage Dicus (WR)

Omari Zuniga (RB)

Bryce Ramage (WR)

Kevian Hardy (WR)

Cade Pierren (WR)

Austin Call (TE)

Jaxon Hansen (OL)

Braden Delgado (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Grayson Banks (TE)

Bransen Simper (QB)

Cameron Peterson (WR)

Nixon Dayley (WR)

Dyson’s comments on the Falcons’ offensive line:

“We have some big guys this year; we have some depth there. We did lose a couple of kids, some kids moved and hurt our depth — going into the offseason, we had only lost our center — but this is going to be the best depth we’ve had at line (since I’ve been here). Quite a few of them have played since they were sophomores. I can’t believe some of them are only juniors, they have been here for so long. We had a pretty good line a couple of years ago, but they were so undersized. This year we have the size to go with it. I think that group has the chance to be the strongest part of our team.”

Dyson’s comments on quarterback Bransen Simper and position as a whole:

“We don’t have depth at quarterback. We only have three. That is not the best place to not have depth, but our quarterback played last year. He didn’t start, but he played. We got him into games. We didn’t want to overload him, but we got him some experience. We knew we had to get him ready.”

Keys for offensive success in 2019:

It’ll all come down to the quarterback and skill positions for the Falcons this year. Clearfield has the benefit of strong offensive line, a rarity in high school football. The skill position players are less established, however. How players like Simper, Zuniga, Dicus and Ramage — to name a few — perform will go a long way in determining how effective the Falcons are on offense.

Clearfield defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Andre Dyson

2018 defensive production: 32.6 ppg (16th in 6A)

— 7 returning starters

— 4-2-5 defense

Key defensive returning starters

— Grayson Banks (DE)

Was a standout on the Falcons defensive line. Recorded 47 total tackles last season, and added two sacks. Had a season-high 11 tackles against Northridge.

— Kevian Hardy (S)

Racked up 35 tackles and an interception in 2018. Averaged 3.9 tackles per game, and recorded a season-best nine tackles against Layton.

Returning defensive starters

Grayson Banks (DE)

Braden Delgado (DT)

Austin Call (LB)

Cade Pierren (CB)

Kevian Hardy (S)

Omari Zuniga (LB)

Gage Dicus (Nickel)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Bryce Ramage (S)

Cameron Peterson (CB)

Jaxon Hansen (DT)

Kaden Bankhead (DT)

Nixon Dayley (S)

Dyson’s comments on the necessity of playing athletes on both sides of the ball:

“We have to figure out how to use them, on offense and defense. We are trying not to have guys play both ways, but we don’t have the numbers to not play guys both ways. We don’t have a lot of guys, but we have good depth. We can use all the kids who decided to play. Kids might play both ways, but it won’t be all the time. We will rotate them to keep them fresh.”

Dyson’s comments on the Falcons’ tendency to play a 4-2-5 scheme:

“A lot of teams play spread so we are more nickel look than anything. That helps this year, because we are lacking linebacker a bit. We play a lot of nickel, though, so we’ll be alright.”

Keys for defensive success in 2019:

Similar to on offense, the Falcons have a solid group of defensive linemen, even though many don’t play on both sides of the ball — “I don’t like to mess with the O-line,” Dyson said. “I like to let those guys play.” The Falcons also have a good number of defensive backs, including some experience with Pierren, Hardy and Dicus. The big question is how the linebacking corps will develop.

Bottom line

Coming off a season where they finished with just one victory and went winless in region play, things can only go up for the Falcons. Clearfield brings back a good amount of contributors, including a group of juniors who led an extremely successful sophomore team. As Dyson put it, “this is the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been here, one and two deep,” and the Falcons will have a chance to parlay that talent into wins. While a high level finish in Region 1 isn’t likely, Clearfield does have a chance to surprise some people.

Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Eighth

Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Eighth

Key region game: at Layton, Sep. 27 (Week 7)

2019 schedule

Aug. 16 — at West, 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 — HUNTER, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 — WEBER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — at Davis, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 — at Fremont, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 — NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — at Layton, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 — ROY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Bear River, 7 p.m.

Felts Facts for Clearfield High School

All-time record: 249-330-4 (58 years)

Region championships: 8 (1975 co, 1976, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1994, 1996 co, 1998 co, 2002 co)

Playoff appearances: 25

Current playoff appearance streak: 0

All-time playoff record: 15-24

State championships: 1 (1992)

State championship record: 1-0

Most played rivalry: 53 meetings with Davis dating back to 1961. Davis leads 29-23-1.

Felt’s Factoids: No one has played more overtimes than Clearfield, 23, including five against Layton and three against Weber. … The Falcons hold the state record (tied with Grantsville) for season interceptions with 33, set in 2002. … Clearfield also holds the state record for single-game safeties with three (vs. Layton in 2006 and tied with two other schools).

Last five

  • 2018 — 1-8 (0-6 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2017 — 5-5 (2-4 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2016 — 2-8 (1-5 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2015 — 0-10 (0-6 in Region 1 — missed playoffs)
  • 2014 — 2-8 (1-5 in Region 6 — missed playoffs)

Clearfield coaching history

  • 2014-current — Andre Dyson (10-39)
  • 2012-2013 — Will Hawes (5-15)
  • 2009-2011 — Jeff Bingham (8-22)
  • 2006-2008 — Billy Plium (10-22)
  • 1991-2005 — Randy Johnson (100-64)
  • 1988-1990 — Brent Lund (12-18)
  • 1977-1987 — Brent Hancock (49-61)
  • 1969-1976 — Jack Hannum (37-40)
  • 1965-1968 — Don Jenson (7-30)
  • 1961-1964 — Boyd "Tiny" Grant (10-21)

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

  • None

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