That’ll be the difference in the ballgame, if we can come out and match their physicality up front. —Milford coach Thane Marshall
The 1A football championship game between the Duchesne Eagles and the Milford Tigers slated for Saturday afternoon at SUU will feature two teams that couldn’t be much more different.
From a historical perspective, the Eagles will be gunning for their sixth state title since 2010, while the Tigers have won just one championship in school history and didn’t win a playoff game from 2000-2015.
The teams are drastically different stylistically as well, particularly on offense. Duchesne has long been successful running the Wing-T, while Milford bucks the norm of the 1A classification by employing a spread offense. As such, the Eagles prefer to win in the trenches, while the Tigers like to air it out.
Despite the differences between the two squads, they both enter the final game of the season with 10-1 records. Duchesne’s lone loss came to 3A’s Richfield, while Milford’s only defeat can serve to a degree as a preview for Saturday’s game, as it came to the Eagles on Sept. 22.
Duchesne (10-1) vs. Milford (10-1)
1A state championship
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. (at Southern Utah)
Parry’s Power Guide: Milford by 1
All-time series: Duchesne leads 21-6
Coach vs. coach: Duchesne’s Jerry Cowan leads Milford’s Thayne Marshall, 6-0
Last meeting: Sept. 22 (Week 6) – Duchesne 21-12, at Duchesne
Duchesne took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but the Tigers rallied to make it 14-12 in the fourth quarter before the Eagles iced it with a touchdown. Duchesne’s win marked the only time all season Milford was held under 20 points. Two of the five touchdowns scored in the contest was via special teams or defense (a punt block return from the Eagles and an interception return from the Tigers).
Milford head coach Thane Marshall said his team felt overmatched after the first quarter, and both coaches agree that Saturday’s game will be won or lost in the trenches given how the first matchup went.
“That’ll be the difference in the ballgame, if we can come out and match their physicality up front,” Marshall said.
Said Duchesne head coach Jerry Cowan: “If we can keep their offense off the field the best we can, and like we’ve done all year, just kind of grind it out and keep it low scoring, I think that gives us a better chance than a shootout for sure.”
For Marshall, this game in many ways marks a culmination of four years of work he’s put in since taking over the Tiger program before the 2014 season, and now he has 22 seniors who will vie for the title.
It’s them, he says, who have really put in the work.
“If we can come away with a win on Saturday, it’ll be icing on the cake,” he said. “It’s all about these kids and getting them where they want to be. We’ve worked hard, but they’re the ones that have been out there sweating. We’ve worked our minds, and they’re the ones that are putting forth the sweat and the blood and everything out there on the football field to get it done.”
On the Eagles’ side, even though they’ve reached this point so many times that it’s almost an expectation, Cowan said this is what it’s all about.
“That’s why you sign up and play,” he said, “is for these types of moments.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Duchesne statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 23.5 ppg (3rd in 1A)
Scoring defense: 10.2 ppg (1st in 1A)
Passing leader: Jarett Spencer (58-111, 52.3%, 1,101 yards, 15 TDs, 4 TDs)
Milford statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 39.3 ppg (1st in 1A)
Scoring defense: 13.9 ppg (3rd in 1A)
Passing leader: Bryson Barnes (135-238, 56.7%, 2,644 yards, 27 TDs, 4 INTs)
Interception leaders: Ty Netto (4 INTs)
Felts Facts for Duchesne High School
Head Coach: 2012-current — Jerry Cowan (60-9)
All-time record: 257-206-1 (47 years)
Region championships: 14 (1983 co, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 38
Current playoff appearance streak: 18 (2000-2017)
All-time playoff record: 35-31
State championships: 6 (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
State championship record: 6-3
Felts Facts for Milford High School
Head Coach: 2014-current — Thane Marshall (26-16)
All-time record: 233-393-11 (76 years)
Region championships: 4 (1990, 1991, 1999 co, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 32
Current playoff appearance streak: 9 (2009-2017)
All-time playoff record: 15-30
State championships: 1 (1993)
State championship record: 1-1