Note: Duchesne finished with a 12-0 overall record in 2012 and was first in 1A North with a 4-0 record. It beat Rich 28-0 to win the 1A championship.
DUCHESNE — The Duchesne Eagles are rich in success, coming off back-to-back-to-back 1A state championships, and their sights are set on four-peating in 2013.
The Eagles have only three returning starters — three on offense and three on defense — but veteran head coach Jerry Cowan isn't letting that hinder his team's hopes of capturing another state title.
"Our expectations are to win a state championship. We've always been pretty good in the offseason preparation-wise. We've always had a pretty good turnout in the weight room. And as far as goals go, we are always going to have the goal of winning a state championship, and it's no different this year," Cowan said.
Duchesne will need to replace six of its top contributors from the past three seasons on the offensive line and seven on the defensive line, leaving plenty of holes on both sides of the ball for younger players to step up.
The dominant defenders the Eagles will need to replace this season managed to combine for 248 tackles, 19 sacks and four interceptions in 2012. High-caliber players Wade Shephard (64 tackles, nine sacks), Ty Summarell (52 tackles, two sacks), and Christian Mahan (50 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, four interceptions) will be extremely difficult to replace on defense.
When it comes to replacing players, Duchesne's O-line is a similar story.
"Our biggest thing with us is we're just inexperienced, so we're kind of missing our offensive line. We've got no returners — all of our starters graduated last year — so we're going to hopefully grow up quick up front. That'll be our biggest preparation," said Cowan. "We'll spend some extra time with the offensive line and hopefully get them ready to go."
However, replacing linemen isn't going to be the only struggle for Duchesne this season, as it also lost its top two running backs and leading receiver.
Kaden Moon got most of the touches in the backfield last season, carrying the ball 136 times for 1,021 yards with nine TDs, while the Eagles also lost Josh Hanberg (RB/DB), who contributed 402 yards and five TDs of his own.
Being able to come up with similar production out of the backfield again this season will be one of the tougher tasks the Eagles will have on their plates. Along with trying to fill the holes in its backfield, finding a replacement for McKade Nielsen, who caught 27 passes for 616 yards and 10 TDs to lead Duchesne as a tight end last season, will also prove to be quite the difficult task.
Trent Roberts will be one of the guys Cowan counts on to fill those offensive holes in his second season as the starting quarterback. Roberts threw for 1,116 yards and an impressive 16 TDs while also managing to take care of the football, committing just two interceptions in all of last season. Roberts was also tremendous in the open field, carrying the ball 110 times for 489 yards and 12 TDs.
"He (Roberts) will be one of our biggest threats. He is a big kid. He's one of the biggest kids on our team. He's our quarterback, so we expect a lot from him, on offense and defense, and as just being a leader overall," said Cowan.
The Eagles also expect big things from senior running back/cornerback Matt Muir, who rushed for 564 yards and four TDs on 64 carries last season.
"Matt's one of our three starters that will be back this year. He was a running back for us last year and he will still be a running back for us this year. He's a really fast kid, pretty hard-nosed and tough, and we expect a big year out of him and Trent," Cowan said. "If our offensive line will come through, we ought to be opening holes for those two kids to run through."
Duchesne will also look to and give more playing time to its third and final senior, Collin Moon (OL/LB/RB), who received 21 touches in the trenches and averaged 8.9 yards per carry in six games of action last season.
Duchesne Eagles at a glance
Coach: Jerry Cowan is entering his sixth year as head coach, and he's amassed an impressive 52-17 record.
(3 returning starters; Wing-T offense)
Duchesne lost its entire offensive line and should have a little more trouble running the ball due to its inexperience on the line. Trent Roberts has returned for his second season as the starting quarterback, and is expected to have another great season after his solid year in 2012. The Eagles must replace their linemen, top running backs and top receiver from last season, but have promising young talent on the roster. Roberts and Matt Muir should have a huge impact on the offensive end for the Eagles, but also expect a breakout season from Collin Moon.
(3 returning starters)
The defense has shown just how dominant it has been over the past four years, but the Eagles have lost a lot of key players on the defensive side and must rely on younger players to step up and fill the big shoes left before them. Roberts, Muir and Moon are expected to anchor the defense with lots of speed in the open field.
Coaches preseason Region 1A straw poll: First
Deseret News Region 1A prediction: First
Bottom Line: This time of year, most teams have high levels of excitement and expectations. Duchesne is at the top of the list. Coming off back-to-back-to-back 1A state championships, the Eagles aren't lacking any confidence and still have championship-caliber expectations — regardless of all their losses on both sides of the ball. This fall, the young talent on the Duchesne roster will need to stay focused, composed and fill the big shoes that were left behind to defend their title.
Duchesne coaching history
2012-current — Jerry Cowan (12-0)
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
2012 — Kaden Moon, RB/LB
2011 — Max Lewis, OL/DL
2010 — Grant Marett, OL/DL
2006 — Weston Despain, RB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2012 — Trent Roberts, QB/LB
2012 — Josh Hanberg, RB/DB
2012 — McKade Nielsen, TE/FS
2012 — Jesus Pena, OL/DL
2012 — Wade Shepard, OL/DL
2012 — Cassidy Smith, OL/DL
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
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.