Lee Benson, Deseret News
Duchesne High School football coaches Billy Hoopes, L, and Jerry Cowan spot junior quarterback Trent Roberts in the weight room.

The opening night of the high school football season this past Friday ushered in a new era for 29 programs across the state. And for a dozen, it was the perfect start for their first-year coaches.

Some, like Spanish Fork coach Kirk Chambers — who'd never coached a game at any level prior to Friday night — were very anxious heading into their debuts.

"I was very nervous, probably more nervous than a lot of my NFL starts," said Chambers. "Not all of them, but most of them."

For Hunter first-year coach Scott Henderson, it was business as usual in Friday's opener.

"I don't have first-game jitters, I've been coaching long enough," said Henderson, who's been coaching at various schools for more than 20 years.

Whether the 29 debutants were nervous or calm, only 12 got to experience the satisfaction of winning the first game at their new school.

Along with Chambers and Henderson, the other 10 winning coaches from Friday night were Cyprus' Scott Wooldridge, Bonneville's Tyler Gladwell, Enterprise's Malin Williams, Layton Christian's Kitt Rawlings, Summit Academy's Scott Gorringe, Westlake's Gary Clark, Pleasant Grove's Les Hamilton, Union's Matt Labrum, Woods Cross' Justin Spencer and Granger's Cecil Thomas.

Three additional coaches — Duchesne's Jerry Cowan, Cottonwood's Greg Croshaw and Monument Valley's Jim Dandy — will make debuts at their new schools in Week 2.

For Wooldridge and Labrum, Friday's victories were particularly gratifying with their new teams coming off winless seasons in 2011.

As satisfying as the victories were, the winning newcomers were trying to take everything in stride.

"You enjoy it, you digest it, you move on, 'cause these games come quick," said Chambers.

Of the 32 new coaches, not many were handed a situation better than Chambers. Spanish Fork was a 3A semifinalist last season, and even though many of those starters graduated, Chambers has routinely praised previous coach Matt Christensen for building such a solid program.

That stability showed on Friday with a convincing 53-0 win over Park City.

Woods Cross was dominant as well in a 41-16 win over Viewmont, a victory coach Spencer was anticipating, but one he's not going to blow out of proportion.

"We have really high goals, and we're going to stick to the cliche' of playing one week at a time," said Spencer. "Me personally as a coach, I think a lot of people around us were more excited than we were. We have a lot of things we need to fix. We were rusty in so many areas."

Of the 12 victorious coaches, four picked up their wins at the expense of a fellow newcomer.

Cyprus' Wooldridge beat Murray's Mike Richmond, Layton Christian's Rawlings beat American Leadership's Bobby Kauo, Westlake's Clark beat Provo's Cody Mallory and Union's Labrum beat Ben Lomond's Bill Mierzejewski.

Of the 19 coaches who dropped the first game at their new school, no one was more unlucky than Timpview's Cary Whittingham. His team hung with 5A power Alta the entire way, but a missed field goal in the final seconds denied the T-Birds the upset.

Top 5 rankings

Class 5A

Team Rec. Pv.

1. Bingham 1-0 1

2. Alta 1-0 3

3. Jordan 1-0 5

4. Syracuse 1-0 —

5. Northridge 1-0 —

Class 4A

Team Rec. Pv.

1. East 1-0 2

2. Bountiful 1-0 4

3. Herriman 1-0 5

4. Timpview 0-1 3

5. Mtn. Crest 1-0 —

Class 3A

Team Rec. Pv.

1. Hurricane 1-0 1

2. Juan Diego 1-0 2

3. Spanish Fork 1-0 3

4. Stansbury 1-0 4

5. Dixie 1-0 —

Class 2A

Team Rec. Pv.

1. Manti 1-0 1

2. San Juan 1-0 2

3. S. Summit 1-0 3

4. Millard 1-0 4

5. Beaver 1-0 —

Class 1A

Team Rec. Pv.

1. Duchesne 0-0 1

2. LCA 1-0 2

3. Monticello 1-0 3

4. Rich 0-0 4

5. Summit Aca. 1-0 —

email: jedward@desnews.com