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Ben Brewer, Deseret News
Duchesne running back Kaden Moon (2) runs up the middle during the first half of the Utah High School 1A Football championship game between Duchesne and Rich in Pleasant Grove, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.
What happened the last three years means nothing to this team. They have their own thing to prove, and they have to set their own destiny. —Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan

Coming MONDAY: 2A South Preview

With the addition of one team and the departure of two others, there’s certainly a different feel to the 1A football landscape heading into the 2013 season.

Then again, nothing has really changed. The comings and goings because of UHSAA realignment have done nothing to displace Duchesne from its customary perch atop 1A football.

The three-time defending 1A state champions have won 34 straight and with the return of several key starters are on the verge of breaking Timpview’s state-record 36-game unbeaten streak.

“That’s what’s going to drive those kids at Duchesne and that’s what's driving everybody else that’s got to play against them,” said Kanab coach Bucky Orton, whose team is the lone 1A addition.

Duchesne opens the season Aug. 23 with what should be an easy victory over Layton Christian. After that, road games at North Summit and Carbon are all that stand between Jerry Cowan’s team and the record books.

Cowan is doing his best to keep everything in perspective for his players.

“We just talk about how we’re trying to be 1-0. We’re looking at our first game. What happened the last three years means nothing to this team. They have their own thing to prove, and they have to set their own destiny,” said Cowan.

Without a single returning starter on the offensive line, there’s definitely no guarantee that Duchesne will start the year 3-0. Timpview’s 36-game winning streak was snapped in the 2009 season opener against Pleasant Grove, a game the T-Birds were favored to win.

If the Eagles do win their first three games and break the record, nobody would be surprised if the program followed it up with 10 more victories to cap another perfect season and extend the winning streak to 47.

“They have some good kids coming back and they know how to win,” said Rich coach Ashley Brown.

In fact, Duchesne’s last loss was a 39-19 setback to South Summit on Aug. 27, 2010.

Unlike the past two years, a Duchesne state title isn’t a foregone conclusion — the return of Kanab to 1A football ensures that. Kanab competed in 2A the past four years, but from 2006 to 2008 it played down at the 1A level. During those three years the Cowboys advanced to the state championship every year, winning it once in 2007.

After being overmatched in 2A, state title aspirations are once again the goal in Kanab.

“In 2A we felt our goals were to improve each week and let’s take it as far as we can one game a time, and that was being the smallest 2A school,” said Orton. “Now being one of the biggest or biggest 1A school in football, our expectations are a little different.”

Kanab will get an opportunity to measure itself against powerhouse Duchesne in Week 5 when the Cowboys make the long bus ride north.

“We love having them back. I hated to see them leave the first time. They’re a top-notch program. They did real well in 2A. Having them back down makes it a little more meaningful if you can win a title with a team like Kanab in there,” said Cowan.

Because realistically, it’s been far too easy for Duchesne the past two years.

In 19 games against 1A teams the past two years, Duchesne’s average margin of victory was 32.9 points. Only two of those 19 games were decided by less than 20 points.

While the return of Kanab makes Duchesne’s path to another 1A title more difficult, Rich and Monticello are two teams that are certainly capable of spoiling the party too.

Deseret News projections for 1A North football teams in 2013

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. DUCHESNE: Duchesne doesn’t return much experience from last year’s title team, but what it does return is very, very good. It starts with QB Trent Roberts, who started at QB and safety a year ago. He passed for 16 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more, and even bigger things are expected this year. Coach Jerry Cowan said he also wouldn’t be surprised if Roberts led the team in tackling. Senior running back Matt Muir is also back. He was second on the team a year ago with 564 rushing yards. Muir also added three interceptions defensively. Colin Moon is a returning starter at linebacker, where he racked up 55 tackles a year ago. Moon will also start on the offensive line, the big question mark for Duchesne with zero returning starters. 2012 RECORD: 12-0. PLAYOFFS: Beat Rich in 1A championship.

2. RICH: With several key returning starters on both its offensive and defensive lines, Rich hopes it has the experience in 2013 to dethrone Duchesne. It starts in the trenches. Dakota Clark and Isaac Hopkins are both returning starters on the offensive and defensive line, while McKay Jarman and Skyler Argyle are returning starters at defensive end. With the graduation of 1,000-yard rushers Austin Groll and Kaden Thomson, Benjamin Groll takes over a running back. He was very productive in his own right last year rushing for 562 yards and three touchdowns on 91 carries. Jarman and Vance Weston are returning starters at wide receiver. 2012 RECORD: 8-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Duchesne in 1A championship.

3. ALTAMONT: Anthony Wilcox takes over as head coach at Altamont, the only school with a new head coach this season. The program graduated the bulk of the starters from last year’s semifinal team, but Wilcox has talent to work with in hopes of competing near the top of 1A. Junior Rylee Foy takes over at running back, and has big shoes to fill trying to replace 1,800-yard rusher Kyle Foy. Fellow junior Slaton Thompson will also see plenty of carries after rushing for more than 200 yards last year. Talon Gines will help anchor both lines, and offensively he’ll try and provide protection for new quarterback Dylan Lindsay. The senior saw plenty of action defensively, but only received a few snaps offensively. 2012 RECORD: 5-7. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Rich in 1A semifinals.

4. MILFORD: There’s no shortage of optimism surrounding Milford this year. After starting mostly freshmen and sophomores the past two seasons, the Tigers return every starter in 2013 and coach Brian Williamson said that physical they’re finally ready to compete at the varsity level. While many of the primary contributors are still underclassmen, senior Lucas O’Daniel will play a vital leadership role on the offensive and defensive line. Junior Wade Netto is a returning starter at running back, and big things are expected after he rushed for more than 700 yards a year ago. Fellow junior Kaydon Noyes is also expected to make contributions at running back, and he’ll anchor the defense at linebacker. 2012 RECORD: 1-9. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Duchesne in 1A quarterfinals.

Deseret News projections for 1A South football teams in 2013

1. KANAB: After posting 6-5, 4-7, 5-5 and 5-5 records the past four years in 2A, the Cowboys are an instant contender in 1A. With only four returning starters, however, getting over the hump and beating quality 1A programs like Duchesne, Rich and Monticello won’t be easy. Senior QB Merrill Terry is definitely a player to watch. A wide receiver last year, Terry is shifting to QB and has a ton of speed. Terry’s top receiving threat this year will be Hadin Jones, who was second on the team in 2012 with 386 yards. Taylor Glover (RB/LB) is a returning starter on both sides of the ball and will be counted on heavily. Daven Russell is the lone returning starter on the offensive line, but newcomers Madison Knape and Nate Bowman will be impact players as well. 2012 RECORD: 5-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Emery in 2A first round.

2. MONTICELLO: Late in the regular season last year, the Buckaroos lost to Altamont by two, Diamond Ranch by three and Duchesne by 15. With eight starters back from that team, Monticello figures to be much improved a year later. Leading the way is the 1-2 punch of seniors Austin Maloy and Austin Wilcox in the backfield. Both are important starters on the defensive side as well, with Wilcox anchoring the linebacking corps and Maloy the secondary. In the trenches, Jake Giles is a returning starter on both lines and big things are expected from him. 2012 RECORD: 7-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Duchesne in 1A semifinals.

3. DIAMOND RANCH: It will always be difficult to gauge how competitive Diamond Ranch will be year in and year out because of roster turnover, but coach Robbie Dias believes this year’s team should be very competitive in 1A. Back in June the D-Backs competed in the Ute Shoot 7-on-7 tournament at the University of Utah and finished second in the varsity No. 2 group. A big reason why was the play of senior QB Saxon Mingus. The program does return a few starters, led by WR/SS River Aguirre and LB/OL Mick Hardy. Two other seniors expected to be key contributors are RB/FS Levi Dustin and WR/DE Dominic Dorsich. 2012 RECORD: 7-4. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Altamont in 1A quarterfinals.

4. MONUMENT VALLEY: A junior-heavy team a year ago, the Cougars won five games, including in-state victories over Milford and Whitehorse. Coach Jim Dandy hopes the experience gained in 2012 leads to a few more victories this season, and a better showing against some of the upper-tier 1A teams. Leading the way will be quarterback senior Lawrence Atine, who will be a three-year starter this season. 2012 RECORD: 5-5. PLAYOFFS: Lost to Rich in 1A quarterfinals.

5. WHITEHORSE: Second-year coach Collin Jackson has been pleased with the participation this summer, and is optimistic about an improved season after going winless a year ago. Jackson expects to have roughly six starters back on each side of the ball, which includes quarterback Cedale Armstrong, who also plays safety. His top receiving threat will be returning starter JR Todachinnie. Defensively, Davik Mitchell is a returning starter at inside linebacker, and big things are expected of him. 2012 RECORD: 0-7. PLAYOFFS: Did not qualify.

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