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High school football: Kanab Cowboys 2020 preview

Here’s an in-depth look at the Kanab Cowboys football team heading into the 2020 season.

Note: Kanab finished with a 5-6 overall record in 2019 and was tied for fourth in 2A South with a 2-4 record. It was RPI seed No. 9 in the 2A playoffs, and was eliminated by Beaver 52-7 in quarterfinals.


SANDY — The 2020 season will certainly be the dawn of a new era for the Kanab Cowboys football program.

Bucky Orton, who coached the team for 17 years and won two state championships along the way, stepped down, and J.R. Quarnberg was hired to replace him. For Quarnberg, it’s a chance to return to his alma mater.

“Big shoes to fill, right? It’s been interesting,” Quarnberg said, adding that while he wasn’t coached by Orton, all of his staff was. “He’s almost got hero status among us, so replacing him is interesting.”

Not only will Quarnberg return to where he went to high school, but he’ll also follow in the footsteps of his father Rod, who coached the Cowboys from 1994-2001.

“He’s a good resource for me. He’s a mentor to me,” Quarnberg said. “I’ve definitely sought his counsel. I feel like it’s been a good thing to have my dad be around and then have Bucky, who’s a close friend of mine that’s still here that would be willing to help any of us with anything.”

Quarnberg added that Dwaine Hatch, who was the coach for the one season in between his dad’s final one and Orton’s first, has also been helping, so long as one thing was taken care of first.

“He’s kind of been mentoring Beaver for the last five or six years, so when we pulled him away from Beaver, we were like, ‘First item of business, you axe that relationship with Beaver right now.’”

Even though it’s Quarnberg’s first coaching job, he’s confident the program can be successful in large part because of his staff, which is comprised of a group of friends he played high school ball with.

“We’ve been friends our whole lives and now we’re all kind of back here and have the opportunity with our jobs to try to do this together,” he said. “It’s almost like a ‘we’ mentality. We’re trying to put our own stamp on it.”


Kanab Cowboys at a glance

Quarnberg’s thoughts on how his players dealt the COVID-19 adversity in the spring and summer:

“It sucked. We’ve kind of just proceeded like there’s going to be a season and everything’s normal and we’ve been going. We’re over here in kind of an isolated, small-town part of the world ... honestly we’ve kind of put it behind us until it gets in front of us again.”

Kanab offensive snapshot

Offensive coordinator: J.R. Quarnberg

2019 offense: 27.4 (6th in 2A)

2019 offensive statistics
  • Two returning starters
  • Wing T offense
Returning offensive starters
  • Mike Warino (FB)
  • Brad Haycock (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
  • Derek Houston (TBD)
  • Bracken McQuivey (TBD)
  • Drew Hafen (TBD)
  • Karson Blomquist (RB)
  • Luke Browning (RB)
  • Collin Szymanski (OL)
  • Wyatt Kennedy (OL)
Coach Quarnberg’s keys for offensive success in 2020:

“Our offensive line. We have three pieces on our offensive line that we really like and then we have two that there’s a bunch of kids and we’ve got to find two kids that will step up and make those two spots as solid as the other three.”


Kanab defensive snapshot

Defensive coordinator: Brandon Brown

2019 defense: 25.7 ppg (8th in 2A)

2019 defensive statistics
  • Three returning starters
  • 4-3 defense
Returning defensive starters
  • Mike Warino (LB)
  • Brad Haycock (DL)
Defensive newcomers to watch
  • Wyatt Kennedy (LB)
  • Derek Houston (DB)
  • Bracken McQuivey (DB)
  • Luke Browning (DB)
Coach Quarnberg’s keys for defensive success in 2020:

“We’ve spent a lot of our offseason time on tackling and our defensive coordinator wants to make sure that we’re really sound tacklers. That’s going to be tough with young kids. They haven’t built a lot of habits yet, so we’ve been trying to coach some tackling habits into them.”

Deseret News outlook for 2020

Kanab has always seemed to find a way to at least be in the mix at the end of the season under Bucky Orton, but can that remain the case with Quarnberg now at the helm? This season could be a challenge with a young and inexperienced squad. At the very least, though, can Quarnberg establish what he wants the foundation of the program to be? Anything beyond that would probably be a nice bonus.


Felt’s Facts for Kanab

  • All-time record: 428-258-7 (70 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: 50
  • All-time playoff record: 58-41

  • State championships: 9 (1974, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2005, 2007)
  • State championship record: 9-8
  • Most played rivalry: 91 meetings with Beaver dating back to 1950. Beaver leads 53-38.

Last 5 seasons

  • 2019 — 5-6 (2-4 in 2A South – 2A Quarterfinals)
  • 2018 — 2-9 (0-3 in 1A South – 1A Quarterfinals)
  • 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)

Kanab coaching history

  • 2020 — J.R. Quarnberg (0-0)
  • 2003-2019 — Bucky Orton (122-78) *2 state titles
  • 2002 — Dwaine Hatch (9-2)

  • 1994-2001 — Rod Quarnberg (43-38) *1 state title
  • 1965-1993 — Arlyn Hafen (210-91) *6 state titles
  • 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)


Kanab All-State at-a-glance

Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years

  • 2018 — Cody Stubbs, RB/LB
  • 2018 — Marcus Fox, QB/DB
  • 2018 — Cameron Fryer, K
  • 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