The trend in football right now is for the offense to dictate the tempo of the game. If we give the defense a chance to huddle up (and) call their defense and get their subs in before each down, then it handicaps the offense. —Skyline coach Steve Marlowe
Note: Skyline finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2012 and was first in Region 7 with a 4-1 record. It lost to Bountiful 35-6 in the 4A first round.
SALT LAKE CITY — Skyline High has staked its claim to several decades of high school football in the state of Utah. In 13 years during the late 1960s and into the 1970s it captured six titles. Then from 1990-99 the Eagles monopolized the sport with seven championships.
The program hung its 14th banner in 2005 — the third-highest total in state history. Every title run shared the same commonality: the triple-option offense.
For the first time since Iguanodons roamed the state, that no longer is the case.
The Eagles are changing their offensive identity by implementing a modernized up-tempo spread scheme. Although the wishbone isn’t completely abandoned, the change is an attempt to improve on a mediocre 46-32 record since 2006.
“We’re evolving (the offense) a little more,” Skyline coach Steve Marlowe said. “We’re still going to run the spread-bone and the wishbone together, which is a little bit different. Then we’re going to go up-tempo and run some no-huddle. It’ll be an interesting concept because we’ll force our opponents to prepare for two offenses instead of just the one. We’ll see how it goes.”
The offense will adjust between the two sets depending on the defenses they face. The idea, in essence, is to control the flow of the game, Marlowe explained.
“The trend in football right now is for the offense to dictate the tempo of the game. If we give the defense a chance to huddle up (and) call their defense and get their subs in before each down, then it handicaps the offense,” he said. “This way the offense will dictate the pace of the game and we’ll try and take advantage of the defensive personnel.
"They’re not going to be able to slide in an extra defensive guy or bring in a short-yardage defense on us. If they do they’re really going to have to hustle. We want the defense scrambling around while we’re on the ball.”
In practice, Skyline’s objective was to get a snap off every 17 seconds.
“It’s pretty dynamic the way football has evolved over the past 15 years,” Marlowe said.
Marlowe believes with the contributions of an extremely strong junior class coupled with a solid corps of seniors will place Skyline on the precipice of returning to the program it once was despite a diminishing population.
“We’ve been to the quarterfinals several times since then and we just haven’t quite got over the hump,” Marlowe said. “Our enrollment has gone down from about 1,900 to about 1,450. So this is one of the years where it’s kind of rolled in and everything has come together. If we don’t get to the semifinals this year I’ll be really disappointed, and if we stay healthy we’ll get there.”
Skyline Eagles at a glance
Coach: Steve Marlowe finished with a 5-5 record after his first season as the head coach at Skyline High. He was previously an assistant in the program for 27 years. He is a graduate of Skyline and the University of Utah.
(2 returning starters; spread offense)
The program is scheduled to embark on a massive overhaul schematically behind the first starting junior quarterback since Brandon Doman in 1993.
Braxton Chipman will command the offense this season. He currently maintains a 4.0 GPA, which in large part contributes to Marlowe’s confidence in him. “That’s part of the reason why we can run this offense. The quarterback is responsible for reading it and if there’s an audible on what the defense gives us — he’s able to do that, too.”
Although Marlowe said Chipman “seldom makes a mental mistake” he noted that he still needs to progress physically. “It’s always a little learning curve there at the first part of the junior year when a kid hasn’t started.”
But, when asked if he’s nervous about his QB's capabilities, Marlowe squashed any doubt.
“Not this kid. Not at all,” he said.
Skyline also features its deepest offensive line in recent years: Machi Ubani, Jake Wittwer, Austin Yapias, Evan Espinel and Hanani Aiono, who Marlowe referred to as a “Division I player’
Marlow also pegged Chris Williams, a three-year starter on both sides of the ball, and Aleck Russon as “very good running backs for us.”
(5 returning starters)
Defensively the majority of the offensive personnel will appear, too.
“That’s the difference between 5A and 4A. In 5A you can platoon and defense and offense can practice separately. In 4A, your success is based on if you can keep all your kids healthy,” Marlowe explained. “The key isn’t working really, really hard right now and finding out who the best player is. It’s getting to that first game and being able to play with them.”
Wittwer, Aiono, Yapias and Ubani create a formidable front base.
With the addition of several pass-heavy programs in Region 7, the secondary will be tested extensively. Marlowe said behind two “quick-as-cats” corners, Dallen Slaugh and Parker Bowles, the defensive backfield is “stronger than we’ve been in the past.”
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: Second
Bottom line: How the program adjusts to new offensive philosophies is the defining question of the 2013 season. It’s truly an unknown at this point in time. The talent, especially in the junior class, is there, and the Eagles expect to accomplish great things this season. The Eagles would be hard-pressed for a repeat of another 5-5 record.
Skyline coaching history
2012 — Steve Marlowe (5-5)
1986-2011 — Roger DuPaix (246-74)
1982-1985 — Ray Groth (17-23)
1980-1981 — Gil Cordova (7-13)
1968-1979 — Ken Schmidt (108-26)
1964-1967 — H.G. Linford (31-10)
1962-1963 — Wayne Startin (7-12)
Deseret News Mr. Football recipients
2000 — Steve Tate, QB
1999 — Bo Nagahi, DB3 comments on this story
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Garrett England, Specialist
2011 — Zach Russon, OL,
2010 — Nick Johnson OL
2008 — Tenny Palepoi, DL
2005 — Matt Marshall, QB
2005 — Brian Vaaulu, OL
2004 — Tony Bergstrom, OL
2004 — Will Falk, LB
2003 — Mitch Reid, QB
2003 — Matt Bauman, DL
2003 — Taylor Pendley, LB
2003 — Spencer Orr, DB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.