High school football: Duchesne wins duel of Eagles, runs win streak to 48 straight
LAYTON — Duchesne's football team simply knows how to execute on offense, how to swarm to the ball on defense and, most importantly, how to win.
And win and win ... and win some more.
In a clash of Eagles, the boys from the south soared through with two second-quarter touchdowns and let their dominating defense take care of things the rest of the way in a 20-10 victory over Layton Christian Academy in Thursday's 2014 high school football season opener.
With the victory, four-time defending 1A champion Duchesne runs its state-record winning streak to 48 straight. But this one wasn't easy.
"We knew they were gonna be tough because they had all their guys back from last year," Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan said. "I think they had eight returners, and we're young. We had six seniors get in the game, so we've got a lot of underclassmen playing.
"Man, I'll tell you what. We heard a lot about these (LCA) receivers, big and strong and fast, and I don't know if they had a completion downfield to be honest with you. We've got some undersized guys and some inexperience in our secondary, but I thought they did a heck of a job and I thought both the offensive and defensive lines put us in a position to be successful and it sure helped having the pass rush like we did.
"We're 1-0; the streak's nice, but this team has got a lot to prove and that was just the first step," Cowan said. "And next week's gonna be a battle playing North Summit. But it sure feels good to get this one behind us, that's for sure."
LCA, playing in front of a big home crowd and for a KJZZ-TV audience, played some stubborn defense of its own and kept Duchesne off the scoreboard in a scoreless first quarter.
But the visiting Eagles got their ground game going, with a 21-yard pass play from Wyatt Remund to Daniel Hanberg mixed in, and a crucial chop-block penalty on third down — after LCA's defense had apparently stopped Duchesne — proved critical.
Remund scored on a 13-yard run at 11:05 of the second period and, after Duchesne recovered an LCA fumble at the northern Eagles' 40-yard line on LCA's subsequent possession, Hanberg led a short drive downfield and scored on a 2-yard run. Remund's two-point conversion run made it 14-0.
"That's his first start at any level, so he's never taken a snap under center until this game," Cowan said of Remund. "It's a learning experience. He did a lot of things that he needs to fix and work on, but he did a lot of things that excites us because, one thing about it, you can't coach size and he's big and strong and fast.
"And I think once he figures things out a little bit more, he'll be more explosive and dominant in situations where he has a chance to make a big play."
Duchesne's Dylan Despain carried the ball 15 times for 74 yards and had a 17-yard scoring scamper late in the third quarter that put the southern Eagles ahead 20-3 and essentially put the game out of reach.
"One thing about him," Cowan said of Despain, "he's really hard on himself and he expects to be great. And when things don't always go good for him, he kinda gets down on himself. If he'll just keep his composure and let the game come to him, he's gonna have a big year for us.
"... He's our leader on both sides of the ball and, considering the situation and all the things going on, I thought he played real well."
Despain gave credit to his teammates for his solid rushing performance.
"I had some good blocks," Despain said. "At the start, I think they had a game plan to stop us outside, but as we started to open up the middle more with our two-back (Hanberg), he ran really good, and the outside started to open up in the second half. I was just trying to get as many yards as I could get. We had good blocking, great blocking.
"We were expecting them to be a really good game coming in. We thought they were gonna put up a really good fight. Our defense held them really good and we capitalized on opportunities that we had, turnovers, and just played our hearts out.
"(Remund) did amazing," Despain said. "He was running, passing, scrambling out of the pocket, making plays on defense. You couldn't ask for more."
After Duchesne's second score, an interception by Layton Christian's Ilari Laine, who stood out on defense all day long, stopped another Duchesne drive deep in LCA territory.
Layton Christian's Elijah Lenaburg blocked a Duchesne punt early in the second half, giving LCA the ball at the visitors' 14-yard line. But the home team had to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Laine to make it 14-3.
Late in the third period, Duchesne staged another short scoring drive after a solid kickoff return put the southern Eagles at the LCA 36. Eight plays later, Despain scooted around the right side and sliced into the end zone from 17 yards away to make it 20-3, as the two-point conversion attempt again failed.
Layton Christian's next drive was foiled when Laine's 45-yard field goal attempt was barely wide right, but a fumbled snap on Duchesne's punt attempt put LCA at the Duchesne 9.
Three plays later, LCA's Qwayvon Atkinson danced into the end zone from 5 yards out, and Laine's PAT kick made it 20-10 with 6:45 left to play.
But after recovering the onside kick, Duchesne used the rushing of Remund, Despain and Hanberg to put together a ground-eating drive that devoured all of the rest of the time off the clock.
Remund enjoyed his first-ever start at quarterback.
"It was fun," he said. "I had to get used to it, get the nerves worked out, and just go and play hard, I guess. I was nervous, but I just tried to keep my head and go out and get the first plays over with and kinda settle down and just play.
"I'm pretty happy with it. It wasn't real pretty, but we got it done.
"We were ready for 'em," Remund said. "They had a lot of guys returning from last year, so we weren't getting cocky or anything. We just tried to go out and play hard like we always do."
"We just think about this year," Despain said. "The streak, we already have it, it's good to have, and of course we want to win every game. But we've got to be realistic. Our ultimate goal, even if we lose a game, we still want to win the state championship."
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