Aberdeen High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Jeff Duffin
Years as Head Coach: 3rd Season
Previous Experience: 15 years of youth football and high school assistant coaching.
Record Last Year: 9-3
State Titles: None
Hilario Carrillo, RB/LB, Senior
Jared Carrasco, QB/S, Senior
Stetson Nielson, OL/DL, Senior
Cesar Cerna, OL/LB, Senior
Juan Juarez, TE/DE, Senior
Chris Funk, TE, Senior
Joseph Lemos, K, Junior
Returning Players with Honors:
Hilario Carrillo – 1st Team All-Idaho LB, District 5 Defensive Player of the Year
Jared Carrasco – 2nd Team All-Idaho DB, 1st Team All-Conference DB
Stetson Nielson – 2nd Team All-Idaho DL, 1st Team All-Conference DL
Joseph Lemos – 1st Team All-Idaho K, 1st Team All-Conference K
Photo By: Willy Harris - #16 Hilario Carrillo
Incoming “impact” players:
Javier Uribe, OL/DL, Senior
Savino Adamson, OL/DL, Junior
Carson Beck, RB/DB, Sophomore
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
The 2014 Aberdeen Tigers did something that no Tigers team had done since 1978 – play for a state championship.
Unfortunately for Aberdeen, their opponent in the title game was conference foe West Side, who had knocked off the Tigers during the regular season 12-8. The result in the title tilt was much the same as it was in the regular season – a 16-6 loss in a defensive battle that we’ve come to expect from schools in the 2A South East Idaho Conference.
Following the loss, Tigers head coach Jeff Duffin told the Idaho State Journal, “I think this is just a stepping stone. We’ll be back. Sooner than 40 years.”
“Sooner” for Aberdeen could be now in 2015.
Duffin hopes his third year leading the program takes them to the promised land of state championship glory. And, despite losing a solid group of seniors to graduation, he may have the horses to go deep in the playoffs again.
Returning to the fold this year is 1st Team All-Idaho linebacker Hilario Carrillo, a bruising defender who recorded 104 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks. He also helped lead the way on offense, rushing for 1,295 yards in Aberdeen’s run-heavy double wing offense.
Also back for his senior campaign is Jared Carrasco, a 2014 1st Team All-Idaho defensive back. Carrasco totaled 32 tackles, three interceptions and one tackle for loss last season. This year, he can tack on one more key responsibility onto his plate: quarterback duties.
“Jared is a very quick and smart player,” Duffin said.
Those are the sort of qualities you need in your quarterback operating the tricky double wing offense.
Another key for that offense? Excellent line play. While the Tigers lost some experience on the offensive line this year due to graduation, that doesn’t seem to concern Duffin.
“Although our line is less experienced than last year, we are bigger and stronger this year,” he said. “Our front seven this year are all seniors that have a lot of talent. This team may have the most overall speed that any Aberdeen team has ever had.”
Even with the emphasis on the run game, Duffin mentioned his desire to improve in the passing game which, in turn, could open up more in Aberdeen’s rushing attack.
“We need to throw a little more and execute a little better,” he said.
Execute. It’s one of the key words you see in almost any team sport. It’s such a point of emphasis for Duffin’s Tigers this year that he has made it their team motto and theme for 2015.
Defensively, last year’s squad was stout against opposing offenses. The Tigers gave up an average of 9.3 points per game – one of the best marks in the entire state regardless of classification. They pitched three shutouts in the opening five games of the season and gave up 17 points or more in a single game only once.
Can they duplicate those numbers this year?
If the new, incoming players can gel with the veterans quickly, it’s certainly a possibility.
With Carrillo, Carrasco, and defensive lineman Stetson Nielson anchoring the three levels of defense, expect to see some new faces step up and make an impact.
“Cesar Cerna at middle linebacker will be solid for us,” Duffin said.
As for anticipated improvements on defense, the third year head coach gave just one talking point.
“Pass defense,” he said. “Pass defense is always a focus of improvement.”
It was the failures in the overall pass defense last season that may have swayed the state championship game in West Side’s failure, as Pirates quarterback Peyton Brown took advantage and kept drives alive through the air.
While there are some adjustments to be made with the new personnel this season, Duffin hopes the consistency of their special teams remains the same.
“Our kicker, Joseph Lemos, is probably the best kicker in the state at all levels,” he said. “He has a great leg that gives us a big advantage in field position and being able to put points on the board”
Having a kicker of Lemos’ caliber is a rarity, let alone to have one at a small 2A school. The 1st Team All-Idaho kicker is nationally ranked on prokicker.com and was invited to Wisconsin to attend an invite only camp.
In the 2A South East Idaho Conference, you need every advantage you can get. The uber-competitive conference has been represented in the state title game five times in the last five seasons, including two matchups of conference opponents in 2010 and last year. And as it is with most small schools, the entire season may boil down to how many kids can strap on the pads.
“If we can stay healthy, we have a chance. Depth is an issue for us this year,” Duffin said.
Look for Aberdeen’s home tilt with West Side on Oct. 16 as a measuring stick as to where they stack up with the perennial contenders of 2A football.
Duffin and his staff believe they have the pieces to not only contend, but go all the way this season.
“Sooner” is now.