What could be better than welcoming the longtime rival Beaver Beavers to your home turf to kick off the long awaited 2022 season this Friday, August 12? As the game approaches, it will be more than the Friday night lights radiating energy in Cowboy stadium, the energy from students and fans waiting anxiously for another memorable high school football season will be electric.
The history between the Cowboys and the Beavers makes it one of the greatest rivalries in the state, but one could argue it’s fading. Once a great battle between the red and blue when stories of fist fights between fans, players and referees are that of legend. Exactly what you need for a traditional rivalry to stand the test of time, but it’s been 12 years since the Cowboys have found themselves on top of it. This team and coaching staff are desperate to change that.
Last year, the Cowboys dropped the first two non-region games against Beaver and Millard but went on a tear racking up nine wins in a row, crushing the soon to be eventual 1A champions Duchesne Eagles, yet falling in the semi-finals against Layton Christian to close the season 9 - 3. Many hailed it as a very successful season for Head Coach JR Quarnberg and staff’s second season, but they are hungry and desperate for more. When asked what will make the difference this year, assistant Coach Danny Johnson said, “I hope its experience. A lot of the kids and the coaches both have another year under their belts and have spent a lot of time trying to see where we can get better. We as coaches are desperate to win and we are trying to get our kids to play desperate football. It’s been a long time since we’ve beat Beaver … too long.”
The coaching staff returns all seven coaches from last year who are all amped to return a squad that may have become faster than last year’s team. Dual thousand- yard senior speedsters Travis Stewart and Parker Franklin both return to the backfield with increased speed, agility and experience on their side. Move-in from Lone Peak High School Derek Brown will add strength and speed, as well as junior Waylon White, who was inches away from beating track legend Travis Stewart in a 50-yard dash. Senior leader Kason Janes will also be able to spread the field playing dual roles in multiple positions. Assistant Coach Mace Glazier said of their speed, “If we can get our running backs in the open field, let them use their speed and quickness to make some plays, we will be ok.”
When asked what his favorite part about playing football is, senior Parker Franklin replied, “I love the adrenaline rush, just the feeling of hitting a cross block or a down block and blowing through the line. It’s just a great sport with a lot of energy.”
The Beavers only return a few starters from last year’s squad, but one of them is a deadly accurate and dual threat quarterback Tyten Fails. Defensive coach Brandon Brown said, “Our biggest question mark for the season will be our defense, especially after losing a kid like Wyatt Kennedy. Our defensive line is going to be great with Kason Janes, Preston Houston, Jayden Holder and Max Kartchner, but losing three guys out of secondary is going to be hard to replace. But guys have been working their butts off for us, and the summer camp showed us that guys wanted to step up. We got young guys but also some new guys that haven’t played in the past that have the opportunity to step up. We can’t plug and play to replace a guy like Kennedy on defense, but as a team and a whole, I feel confident we can do it. Beaver will run the ball a lot on us with the Buck Sweep but Fails is an accurate passer so he’s going test our secondary and we got to watch him dumping it off in the flats. Beaver is always a strong running team, but this quarterback is accurate, it’s tough, but we will be prepared for both.”
Junior QB Griffin Bone will definitely be one to watch, as a young starter on last year’s squad as a sophomore, he will be leading a dynamic offensive squad that has the ability to put up a lot of points. When asked what his favorite part about playing football is, he responded with a resounding and confident, “Scoring! I love to score.” That’s exactly what you want from your quarterback leader.
Offensive line coach Kade Glazier recognizes the work he has cut out for him after losing some key seniors off his offensive line but is confident he has the players to do it. Providing some insight he says, “I’ve been really high on our offensive line this year and seeing what they’re doing in camp and in practice. Karter Ramsay put in a full season of weight training and will step up for us, along with Preston Houston, Jayden Holder, Max Kartchner will surprise a lot of people. I’m excited to start off with Beaver and wouldn’t have it any other way.” Junior offensive lineman Karter Ramsey added, “I really worked on getting quicker during the offseason.” And when asked what his favorite part about playing football is, without hesitation added, “Winning!” Few, but powerful words, and it’s clear from his work ethic that he wants to win.
If Kanab can put together a great game plan, the overall talent on this team, may surprise Beaver and give Quarnberg his first win over the Beavers in his head coaching tenure. Coach Quarnberg said, “We’ve been telling the boys to play desperate football, and if they come in that game with that attitude we can live with the results. It’s early in the season but we want our kids to play our brand of football, excited, nasty and playing for each other. We’ve got all seven coaches returning from last year and feel like we made a big jump from year one to year two, and excited to make an ever bigger jump this year. We advanced further in the playoffs than we did in the first year but didn’t finish how we wanted to last year with our group. We’ve worked really hard, and the coaches have invested a lot of time in the offseason and want to make another jump this year.
“As coaches, we need to be prepared to make in-game adjustments to help our weapons on offense exploit their weakness on defense. We got some surprise players that haven’t played in the past and we’re excited to see what we can do. Football is a sport where you grind, and where you grind way more than you play, and the grind of practice far outweighs game time. With weeks and weeks of practice, two-a-day practice for a two-hour game on Friday night, and then to turn around and do it again, it’s what I love. It makes the wins that much sweeter, and the losses sting that much greater, and I love that part of it.”
Will the Cowboys be able to accomplish what the past 12 teams before them haven’t been able to do? End the 12-year drought against the Beavers and ignite the rivalry to new heights? There’s no question the players and coaches will be prepared. I heard a local say they still refuse to wear anything blue out of spite towards the Beavers, which tells me the rivalry continues to live on, but a much-needed win would solidify the rivalry is not fading but growing as strong as ever.