High school football: Kanab Cowboys 2012 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 10:58 p.m. MDT

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Note: Kanab finished with an overall record of 5-5 and was 3-4 in the 2A South region in 2011. It lost to North Summit, 42-9, in the first round of the 2A playoffs.

The Kanab Cowboys are entering their fourth season as a 2A football team. After dominating the 1A scene, the southern Utah team has so far struggled to find its stride in the larger classification.

“We have been down in numbers the past two seasons,” said head coach Bucky Orton, ”but things are looking up for the future.”

He added that the Cowboys have some age-related experience entering the 2012 season, which promises to help the Kanab cause.

“We should have strong leadership from our senior class this season, and plenty of help from our juniors and sophomores," said Orton.

Brandon Nielson is one of those seniors. He is a 6-foot wide receiver and safety who totaled 488 receiving yards with six touchdowns and 31 tackles with two interceptions a year ago.

“He was our big-play guy last season,” Orton said, “and I expect the same from him this year. He is one of the best wide receivers I have had the opportunity to coach here at Kanab.”

Brandon Jenson and Waylon Stebbins are two more upperclassmen to keep an eye on.

Jenson returns to as the Cowboys’ quarterback in his senior year. He threw for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011, and Orton anticipates great things out of him this season.

“He was shown great commitment in the weight room this summer, and he has a tremendous arm. I expect his experience from past seasons will translate into wins for our team.”

Stebbins, a 6-foot-2 senior lineman, is the only three-year starter returning to the mix. He had 17 tackles and half a sack last season.

“(Stebbins) has been a staple on the offensive and defensive lines the past two seasons, and he will be a handful for any player in his sights,” Orton said.

Overall, Orton feels the outlook for football in Kanab is good; the Cowboys are on the right track.

“We have something to prove this year after last season,” he said. "I believe in this bunch of kids. I feel they have what it takes to get us back on the winning track here in Kanab, and I am looking forward to going to the battlefield with them.”

Kanab Cowboys at a glance

Coach: Bucky Orton is entering his 10th season as the Kanab head coach, and he has accumulated a career record of 73-33. Orton is a graduate of Kanab High.

Offense

(6 returning starters; Spread offense)

Brandon Jenson is back at QB for the Cowboys, along with lineman Waylon Stebbins and receiver Brandon Nielson. All three are in their final seasons, and they are part of a strong senior class that will lead Kanab this fall. The Cowboys averaged 15.8 points per game last season, a number their experience can raise as the year progresses.

Defense

(6 returning starters)

Stebbins is also an anchor on the defensive side of the ball, and the Cowboys are going to be counting on him. Kanab gave up over 22 points a game last year. The team needs to try to lower that number. Jenson and Nielson each tallied two interceptions a year ago, and Nielson had 31 tackles.

Coaches preseason 2A South straw poll: Fifth

Deseret News 2A South prediction: Fifth

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