For the first time in many years, there might not be an inevitability about another Duchesne football region title in 2021.
Duchesne has lost just one region game in the past 11 years, winning the region title in 10 of those 11 years, including the past six.
Nothing has changed with Duchesne to think it can’t make it seven straight, but rather it’s about what’s changed for one of its opponents.
North Summit, region runner-up to Duchesne each of the past two seasons, made an interesting coaching change this offseason that definitely turned some heads. After a 10-year hiatus as North Summit’s football coach, Jerre Holmes is returning to the sidelines at Coalville in 2021.
He was previously the coach at North Summit from 2000 to 2010, with his teams posting a 74-53 record during that stretch and state titles in 2007 and 2008.
Since his departure the program has fallen off a bit and really only been a state title contender once in the past decade, reaching the semifinals in 2013.
A coaching change alone doesn’t make North Summit a region or state title contender in 2021, but it certainly has created an interesting storyline to watch in the 1A North region this season.
Holmes said the passion to coach football never left when he stepped down to become the superintendent of the North Summit School District.
“This became available and they were kind enough to let me jump back in. I hope I still have the energy for it, I think I do, but 10 years is a long time. We’ll see,” said Holmes.
Holmes has been the girls basketball coach at North Summit the past five years and had a ton of success, but he admits duplicating that success in a different sport won’t be easy.
North Summit went 7-4 last year, and Holmes said participation this summer has been great as he tries to build on that success.
“I feel really good about what we’ve done this summer in the weight room. The kids have really responded. We’ve had great participation in the weight room,” said Holmes.
North Summit returns five starters on offense and three on defense as it looks to make a push at dethroning Duchesne for the region title. Another key in that quest for Holmes was getting Devin Smith to return as defensive coordinator. He was Holmes’ coordinator during the state titles in 2007 and 2008, and then followed Holmes as head coach from 2011 to 2016.
“It’s great to have Devin back. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” said Holmes.
Regardless of who’s calling the shots at North Summit this season, the internal expectations at Duchesne hasn’t changed one bit.
“I think our goal this year is to win every game and win a state championship. We have some tough preseason games right off the bat, and then we play a 3A team, Union,” said Duchene coach Jerry Cowan.
The Eagles return just two offensive starters from last year’s 2A state runner-up team, but five starters on defense. Cowan expects to lean on quite a few sophomores to fill key roles in 2021.
Despite Duchesne’s recent region dominance, it hasn’t won a state title since 2016. It likely would’ve won a 1A title last year, but there was no 1A football last year as it competed up in 2A football which Beaver dominated the past two years.
It’s a realignment year by the UHSAA in 2021, which means the return of 1A football. Realistically, the only changes from last year’s 2A classification is the departure of Beaver and Millard, but the depature of Beaver is significant considering their back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons.
“We lost Beaver and I think we were all OK to see them leave, and I think they we were OK to leave cause they kind of separated themselves from everyone,” said Cowan.
For the other three teams in 1A North this season, closing the gap and competing with Duchesne and North Summit will be very difficult. Rich, Layton Christian and Monticello went a combined 4-24 last season, but there’s always renewed excitement heading into a new year and all three have reason to believe they can close that gap this year.