Note: Kanab finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2012 and was fifth in 2A South with a 3-4 record. It lost to Emery 61-30 in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
The Kanab football team is going to look a little different this year — and so will its opponents.
After four seasons of 2A ball, the Cowboys, who return just four starters from a season ago, are headed back to the 1A classification, an arena in which they were previously quite successful, reaching four consecutive title games and winning two between 2005 and 2008.
“In 2A, we wanted to be competitive,” said head coach Bucky Orton. “In 1A, the pressure is on. We are the biggest 1A football school, and that comes with expectations.”
While the amount of travel does not differ much for Kanab, a school situated in the southern-most section of central Utah, the direction the bus is headed does change. Most notably, in the fifth week of the season, the Cowboys are bound for the home of the winner of the last three 1A state championships, the Duchesne Eagles.
The first item on Orton’s to-do list, however, is to get his first-year quarterback up to speed.
“Our two (returning quarterbacks) moved out of town,” the coach said, explaining how senior Merrill Terry, a former halfback with little to no QB experience, got the job.
“He did a decent job at camp with poise and willingness to jump into the role,” Orton said. “He has a quiet confidence. The position is not bigger than him, and he is fast.”
Along with Terry, the Cowboys are starting over in many positions. Kanab's coach said he has a roster full of kids with quick feet.
“I was pleasantly surprised with our team speed,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was prepared for. A lot of kids did a lot of great work in the offseason.”
Senior Taylor Glover is the top returning rusher, while Hadin Jones is the top returning receiver. Orton anticipates both players will continue where they left off, and senior tight end and linebacker Dan Ramsay will step right into a similar stride.
“I expect big things on both sides of the ball from him,” the coach said of Ramsay. “He has had a lot of improvement this summer in the weight room.”
Luke Crosby, a running back and outside linebacker, adds experience to a roster with limited returners. While he totaled just 150 total yards and two scores on offense a season ago, the senior knows his way around the defensive side of things. He led the Cowboys with 40 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in 2012.
“He played every position on defense last year,” Orton said. “He is very versatile, a great runner, and willing to do whatever is asked of him. And he is capable to fill all those positions too.”
Orton added that he is pleased with the amount of chemistry already showing up among the team members and, with the number of open positions left, expects good competition in the fight for time on the field. Still, he wants his team to add a little more to its on-field presence.
“I would like to see these guys play right on the edge, play hard and with a defensive mentality,” he said. “To win big games and to win championships, you have to play with a defensive mentality.”
Kanab Cowboys at a glance
Coach: Bucky Orton is entering his 11th season as Kanab’s head coach. He has led the Cowboys to a 78-38 record. He is also a graduate of Kanab High.