Scroll down to see Rich Felt's Facts
Note: Rich finished a 5-6 overall record and was fourth in its region with a 3-3 record in 2011. It lost to Duchesne in the 1A semifinals.
RANDOLPH — Another year, another high school football season and the same old challenge for Rich High and the rest of the 1A teams in Utah:
How do they stop Duchesne from winning another state championship?
After all, the Duchesne Eagles have soared to back-to-back 1A titles, and last year they absolutely pulverized most of their opponents, averaging over 42 points per game while allowing less than 9 per game.
With an average margin of victory of more than 33 points, it's no wonder the Eagles went 12-0.
One of Duchesne's victims along the way was Rich, which dropped a 42-0 decision during the regular season, then suffered a lopsided 46-0 loss to the Eagles in the state semifinals.
Rich, the 2009 state champion and a perennial state playoff team which has reached postseason play all in 27 years of its existence, dropped an overtime duel to Duchesne in the 2010 title game.
As Rebels coach Ashley Brown begins his 13th season at the school, he figures the Eagles are still the big bird in 1A until somebody comes along to knock them off their high perch.
"Duchesne is the team to beat," Brown said. "They've won it the last two years and until somebody beats them, they're still the team to beat.
"They lost a lot of good kids off last year's team, but they had a good JV and have got a good program."
Rich has a good program, too, and with a squad featuring 10 returning starters, the Rebels have their sights set on shooting down the Eagles this season.
Austin Groll, a senior and returning starter at quarterback, leads the way for the Rich offense. "He's got experience now," Brown said, "and we expect a lot out of him. He does both run and pass well."
Groll will be backed up by junior QB McKay Jarman.
At running back, senior Kaden Thomson is another returning starter, and he led the team in rushing last year. But he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee and missed the state 1A semifinal game.
"He did a good job for us," Brown said. "But we had to let his knee heal."
Several players are battling for the starting job at fullback.
The Rebels don't have any of their top wide receivers returning from last year, so sophomore Wyatt Muirbrook and juniors Vance Weston and Skyler Argyle must step in to fill the void. One of them will move over to play tight end.
Kade Earley, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior center, is the big man in the middle of the Rebels' offensive line and does a good job, and he's joined by senior guard Bradley Gurr, another returning starter.
But the other O-line spots are up for grabs at this point, with several players fighting for them.
On defense, the Rebels have six returning starters, including Groll, Thomson and senior Dyson Barker at linebacker, Earley at defensive tackle, McKay Jarman at defensive end and sophomore Cache Sabey at free safety.
But after that, Brown isn't sure at this juncture who his other defensive end, tackle or defensive backs will be.
"We've got some holes to fill," he said. "We've got to fill some holes on the offensive and defensive lines. But we've got some goods skill kids coming back.
"Our league looks very even this year, and I think there are five or six teams that could win the region. Lots of teams are bringing a lot of kids back, and it's a very competitive league. Whoever gets playing their best football at the end of the season will probably win it.
"Layton Christian, Monticello and Altamont all have a lot of kids coming back," Brown said. "But we hope to be in the mix, too."
Rich Rebels at a glance
Coach: Ashley Brown begins his 13th season as Rich's head coach. He has compiled an 85-50 overall record in 12 seasons at the school. He is a graduate of Star Valley (Idaho) High.
(4 returning starters; Spread offense)
With Austin Groll and Kaden Thomson capably manning two of the critical skill positions, and Kade Earley and Bradley Gurr anchoring the O-line, the Rebels should be able to move the football. But newcomers will have to step in and step up at the receiver spots and the other offensive line positions in order for Rich to be successful.
(6 returning starters; Base 4-3 defense)
The Rebels' defense should be strong, especially since their entire starting linebacking corps — Groll, Thomson and Dyson Barker — remains intact. Earley and McKay Jarman will anchor the D-line, and Cache Sabey gives them some vital experience in the secondary. If capable newcomers fill in at the other five positions, Rich should be able to make it tough for opponents to put points on the scoreboard.
Coaches preseason 1A Region straw poll: Second
Deseret News 1A region straw poll: Third
Bottom line: Forgive the Rebels and everybody else in the 1A ranks if at times they feel like they're all playing for second place behind two-time defending state champion Duchesne. But Rich has enough experienced players coming back that it should challenge for one of the top spots on the league ladder, and the Rebels will certainly be in the mix come state playoff time.
Aug. 25 MOUNTAIN CREST J.V., 2 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Westside, Idaho, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 SUMMIT ACADEMY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Monticello, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Altamont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Milford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 DUCHESNE, 4 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Diamond Ranch, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 4 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Rich High School
All-time record: 173-112 (27 years)
Region championships: 4 (1991 co, 2007, 2008, 2009)
Playoff appearances: 27
All-time playoff record: 30-22
State championships: 5 (1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009)
State championship record: 5-6
Most played rivalry: 34 meetings with two schools, Altamont and Duchesne, both dating back to 1985. Rich leads Altamont 26-8 and leads Duchesne 21-13. Meets Altamont on Sept. 21 and Duchesne on Oct. 5.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Rich has competed in the state playoffs every season in its 27 years of existence.
Rich coaching history
2000-current — Ashley Brown (85-50)
1991-1999 — Jerre Holmes (67-30)
1989-1990 — Dan Haskell (8-12)
1985-1988 — Dean Scott (13-20)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2009 — Bradley Holmes, QB/LB
2002 — Colby Holmes, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — Austin Groll, QB/LB
2011 — Brady Meek, RB/LB, Rich
2011 — Bracken Pinter, TE/DE
2010 — Kayden Calder, QB/DB
2010 — Kalen Larsen, OL/DL
2010 — Cody Groll, RB/DB
2010 — Phillip Peart, OL/LB
2009 — Caden Andersen, QB/LB
2009 — Hayden McKee, RB/LB
2009 — Clint Cornelison, WR/DB
2009 — Cooper Cornia, LB/RB
2009 — Tyson Larsen, OL/LB
2008 — Caden Andersen, WR/DB
2008 — Bradley Holmes, QB/LB
2007 — Kade Bell, OL/DL
2007 — Bradley Holmes, QB/DBComment on this story
2007 — Clayson Myers, RB/LB
2007 — Tyler Satterthwaite, RB
2006 — Derek Andersen, RB/LB
2006 — Jared Hislop, RB/LB
2005 — Zach Marler, OL/DL
2005 — Derek Andersen, RB/LB
2004 — Jordan McKee, QB
2004 — Sean Weston, RB
2004 — David Herrera, LB
2003 — Sean Weston, RB/LB
2002 — Sim Weston, RB/LB
2002 — Blake Pugmire, WR
2002 — Dustin Kennedy, OL/DL
2002 — Kirby Sabey, OL/DL
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.