Billy Hoopes
McKade Nielsen

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Note: Duchesne completed the 2012 season undefeated, finishing with a 12-0 overall record and a 6-0 record in the 1A North division. The Eagles defeated Layton Christian, 35-6, in the 1A title game for their second consecutive championship.

The Duchesne Eagles have won 22 consecutive games and 23 of their last 24.

They have played for three consecutive 1A state championships, winning the last two.

However, they return just three starters on offense and five starters on defense from last year's title-winning team.

So this year’s club is going to look a little different.

“I think people think it will be harder for us, that we might have a down year,” said head coach Jerry Cowan. “And I think (people thinking that) is a good thing.”

Although the 2012 Eagles may not be as big, as fast or as strong as they have been in the past, Cowan believes this squad has the potential to be harder working and scrappier, with the ability to reach the always high expectations of the Duchesne football community.

“We don’t want to be a team that rebuilds after a title,” Cowan said. “We have good talent and high expectations; the kids have bought into that system and have been working hard to maintain it.”

Part of the Eagles’ continued success has been due to preserving consistency in the program with seamless coaching changes. Cowan originally took his post in 2003 with assistant Billy Hoopes on his staff. When Cowan left to go into underground mining in 2007, Hoopes took over and continued moving forward with the same Wing-T offense he and Cowan had established.

Cowan returned to assist Hoopes the past two seasons prior to switching places again this year.

“Coach Hoopes will call the offense and I will call the defense; nothing has really changed,” Cowan said. “He is a great coach and the kids like him. He is a big reason for the success we’ve had.”

Three seniors — Kaden Moon, McKade Nielsen and Wade Shepard — have also been part of that success, and will be crucial to the Eagles reaching their potential again this year.

All three are stars on both sides of the ball. Moon led the team with 71 tackles last season and will be key in the Duchesne rushing attack this year; Nielsen led the team with 206 receiving yards and had 10 interceptions as a free safety; and Shepard will start again at center and defensive end.

“He played a major role last season,” Cowan said of Shepard. “His guts and play-making skills make him the key to our defensive line.”

Junior Trent Roberts will be counting on Shepard as he moves into the starting quarterback position.

“I think (Roberts) could potentially have a pretty great season,” Cowan said. “He’s a good player that didn’t get much time last year only because of the team we had.”

Overall, Cowan thinks his team will again be pretty good.

“We have tough kids; they have been in the weight room all summer and all year long. We have good kids who work hard, and that makes them easy to coach.”

Duchesne Eagles at a glance

Coach: Jerry Cowan is entering his first season in his second stint as the Duchesne head coach. Cowan’s first turn at the school was from 2003 to 2007. He is a graduate of Grand County High.


(3 returning starters; Wing-T offense)

Junior Trent Roberts will direct the offense this year, stepping onto the field with senior leaders Kaden Moon, McKade Nielsen and Wade Shepard. The championship experience of the latter three ­— which included winning all 12 games in 2011 by an average of nearly 34 points per game — will guide the Eagle offense.


(5 returning starters)

The defensive line is the Eagles’ biggest question mark right now. They need to be able to effectively and consistently stop the run game, which is what much of the 1A classification attacks with. Coach Cowan feels is team is solid in the area of defensive skills, and is, again, counting greatly on the leadership of Shepard, Nielsen and Moon. Duchesne gave up just 103 points last year, which is 8.5 points per game, and recorded four shutouts.

Coaches’ preseason 1A South straw poll: First

Deseret News 1A South prediction: First

Bottom line: The majority of the Eagles’ starters will be in their roles for the first time. They will need to stay physically healthy as well as focused on gaining familiarity with the varsity level each game out. Moon, Nielsen, and Shepard hold the experience, and will need to share their knowledge as Duchesne will depend on a balanced attack from several contributors.

2012 schedule

Aug. 17 — BYE

Aug. 24 — NORTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 — at West Wendover, 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 — MILFORD, 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 — DIAMOND RANCH, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 — vs. Summit at Judge Memorial, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 — at Rich, 4 p.m.

Oct. 12 — at Monticello, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17— ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.


Felts Facts for Duchesne High School

All-time record: 197-197-1 (41 years)

Region championships: 9 (1983 co, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2006, 2010)

Playoff appearances: 32

All-time playoff record: 23-29

State championships: 3 (2006, 2010, 2011)

State championship record: 3-3

Most played rivalry: 63 meetings with Altamont dating back to 1973. Duchesne leads 36-27. Meet on Oct. 17.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Duchesne led the state in scoring margin (33.2 ppg) in 2011. … The Eagles have the current longest winning streak, 22 games.

Duchesne coaching history

2012 — Jerry Cowan

2008-2011 — Bill Hoopes (36-12)

2003-2007 — Jerry Cowan (40-17)

2000-2002 — Colby Knight (10-19)

1999 — Brian Berrong (1-8)

1996-1998 — Don Hill (9-21)

1993-1995 — Dave Woolstenhulme (17-13)

1987-1992 — Rick Durban (27-30)

1984-1986 — Stan Young (23-8)

1981-1983 — Rick Durban (14-16)

1979-1980 — Robert Cook (9-9)

1977-1978 — John Dowell (3-14)

1974-1976 — Ed Browning (3-21)

1973 — Russ Shirts (5-5)


Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

2011 — Max Lewis, OL/DL

2010 — Grant Marett, OL/DL

2006 — Weston Despain, RB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2011 — Shiaba Allen, QB/LB

2011 — Braiden Despain, RB/LB

2011 — Macoy Young, RB/DB

2011 — McKade Nielsen, TE/DB

2011 — Kane Nealley, OL/LB

2010 — Shiaba Allen, QB/LB

2010 — Braiden Despain, RB/LB

2010 — Max Lewis, OL/DL

2010 — Devin Fabrizi, RB/LB

2010 — Kane Nealley, OL/DL

2010 — Austin Poulson, OL/DL

2009 — Travis Potter, RB/LB

2009 — Austin Thompson, OL/DL

2009 — Jacob Verde, RB/LB

2009 — Kyle Wilkerson, OL/DL

2008 — Jacob Evans, OL/DL

2007 — Colby Evans, RB/LB

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2007 — Tyler Reinhardt, RB/DB

2006 — Zack Bertola, RB/DB

2006 — Brenton Farnsworth

2006 — Sam Hoopes, TE/DB

2006 — Tyler Reinhardt, QB/DB

2006 — Shayne Wilkerson, OL/DL

2005 — Shayne Wilkerson, OL/DL

2005 — Sam Hoopes, TE/DB

2004 — Cole Helms, OL

2004 — Sam Hoopes, DB

2003 — Landon Despain, RB/LB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

Contributing: Jessica Wilde, Conner Johnson, Steve Mundee and prep football historian George Felt.

Email: Twitter: @DNewsPreps