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High school football: Duchesne Eagles 2014 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13 2014 11:50 p.m. MDT

Note: Duchesne finished with a 13-0 record in 2013 and was first in 1A North with a 3-0 record. It beat Rich 14-13 in the 1A championship.

In a sense, there’s as little pressure surrounding the Duchesne football program this fall as there has been in quite some time.

Yes, the Eagles are the four-time defending state champions and are riding a state-record 47-game winning streak, thus being the squad every other is eyeing to beat.

But after Duchesne set a new consecutive-wins record last season with its 37th straight, each ensuing victory is just more icing on the cake.

“The pressure was getting the winning streak,” said coach Jerry Cowan. “That’s come and gone. At this point to be honest, I don’t see how there’s really any pressure when the record already belongs to us. I think that’s come and gone.”

To be clear, however, the Eagles’ ultimate goals for the 2014 campaign aren’t any different than they were prior to any record setting.

“Our goal is to win a championship, and that’s always gonna be our goal,” Cowan said. “If that means going undefeated, that’s great. I think that’s very minimal anymore at this point with us. We just want to go out and perform.

“I believe in setting goals and I believe you’ve got to set realistic goals. With us, we feel like we’re in a position with what we’ve put together program-wise, we feel like that’s our goal every year. Until we’re in a position where that’s unrealistic, that’s gonna be our goal.”

Entering last year, there were questions surrounding whether or not Duchesne would be able to replace some key pieces from its 2012 title run, but the Eagles passed those tests with flying colors.

Similar questions are back in 2014, as Cowan will have to replace quarterback Trent Roberts and running backs Matt Dye and Matt Muir. Even so, Cowan feels good about his team’s chances of making another title run.

“People are maybe thinking things are gonna be a little more challenging and they probably are, but we’ll set that as the goal,” he said. “If you don’t reach your goal, at least you set a high goal to begin with and we’ll accept the outcome.”

Leading the way for Duchesne in its quest for a fifth-straight state title will be running back Dylan Despain. As a junior a year ago, Despain was the Eagles’ leading rusher by 19 yards, but he will be counted on to carry even more of the load in 2014.

“He’s got the ability to do it, so we’re expecting him to be our team leader on offense and defense,” Cowan said of Duchesne’s third-leading tackler a year ago. “We feel like we try to be balanced. We don’t want to feel like he’s our only guy, but we gotta find a way to get him the ball and give him a chance to put up some big numbers.”

Cowan may need to rely on Despain and fellow backfield mates Layne Coil and Daniel Hanberg even more because of the quarterback situation. Roberts, Duchesne’s fourth-leading rusher and the only signal-caller to throw more than a couple of passes in 2013, is gone, and his replacement isn’t quite clear.

In the running for the top quarterback job are juniors Carsen Reinhardt and Wyatt Remund. Reinhardt has quarterbacking experience, having been the starter of the junior varsity team a year ago, while Remund was the Eagles’ tight end in 2013. The pair exited camp in late July neck-and-neck for the job.

“I felt like we went into camp hoping we’d have an easy decision, but both guys really did a great job,” Cowan said.

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