Although he says he will never stop coaching, Kanab High School football head coach Bucky Orton retired from the position he’s held for the last 17 years. Orton said, “It’s what’s best for the program, and my family needs me right now.”

He has four children and he said he only got to watch two of his daughter’s volleyball games last year. This year he intends to see them all.

Orton and his wife Katie have four kids – Dawson, who is in Ventura, California, serving an LDS mission, Maddie, a sophomore, eight grader Wyatt and Brennan, who will be in the fifth grade.

Orton, a physical education teacher at Kanab High, also has a sprinkler business, “Buck the System,” that he operates during the summer installing and repairing sprinklers.

He said he had the chance to spend a lot of time with his family this summer camping, fishing, four-wheeling and really had a lot of fun.

Not that he won’t coach again. He said he will always coach … until the day he dies … but now he will help coach his own boys while he still has the opportunity.

Orton said he got into sports watching his two older brothers, Wade and Allen, play ball. Both were great athletes at Kanab High School and went on to play college football at Weber State University.

Bucky was a natural, a three-sport athlete at Kanab High. He excelled in both baseball and basketball, but football was where his heart was.

In his senior year, he led the Cowboys to the 2A state title in an exciting 9-6 victory over San Juan at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. He scored the only Kanab touchdown of the game on a 13 yard scramble. Orton intercepted a San Juan pass in the end zone in the final seconds of the game to preserve the three-point Cowboy victory. He was the team’s leader at quarterback and safety ... and the game’s MVP.

This led to a college career, where he shifted to playing tight end. He played at Dixie College, when it was a two-year college, and moved on to play and graduate from Utah State University.

His playing career over, he naturally started coaching to stay involved in the game he loved. It has been in his blood his whole life.

After one-year assistant coaching stints at Kanab, Altamont and Parowan high schools, he got his dream job, the Kanab Cowboy head coach, in 2003. After 17 years, including six championship game appearances, with two 1A championship titles, he hung up his whistle.

When asked about some of the highlights he remembers while coaching, Orton said he had plenty. His first year at Kanab was special when he led them to the 2A state semifinal game against Juan Diego. Orton said he will always remember when his Cowboys scored four special teams touchdowns against the private school. Even though they lost that game, he had fond memories of his initial season.

Another highlight he relished was coaching his nephews, Wade’s sons Evan and Justin, and Allen’s son Sam. He said that was very special.

And of course, he will always remember the two state titles that Kanab won under his leadership.

A quote after the 2005 1A State Championship win over Enterprise from coach Orton, “I’m so proud of these guys. It feels even better to win as a coach than it did as a player, just because I know how much it means to these players.”

And one from his 2007 champions over Rich,“This championship means a lot to the whole team, especially my seniors,” said Orton, after getting his second championship in three years.

Even one title game that the Cowboys didn’t win, Orton was especially proud of. After taking the lead late in the game, the Cowboys lost in the last minute to a dominant Diamond Ranch Academy team. I saw that game and think it was Orton’s best coaching job of his career. The Cowboys should have never been in the game, but they almost pulled off a huge upset.

When asked about some of the low times or heartbreaking losses, he said there were a few, especially the four 1A state title games that got away. The loss to Duchesne was difficult for Orton, who thought he was out-coached in that game.

Orton said he will really miss the bond he shared with the players and coaches he worked with. He loved every player he coached, especially those who needed a little extra help from him. He loved the kids and he loves Kanab football.