Aberdeen High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
Share preview with friends!
Head Coach: Jeff Duffin
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: Six years as high school assistant and eight years of youth football
Record Last Year: 11-1
State Titles: None
#7 Joseph Lemos, LB/RB/K/P, 12
#5 Rivin Mack, RB/LB, 12
#30 Baltazar Ortiz, RB/LB, 12
#9 Carson Beck, RB/DB, 11
#77 Savino Adamson, DL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
#7 Joseph Lemos, 1st Team All-State Kicker, 1st Team All-Conference Kicker/Punter
#5 Rivin Mack, 1st Team All-Conference RB
#9 Carson Beck, 2nd Team All-Conference DB
#77 Savino Adamson, Honorable Mention DL
Key Players lost from last year:
#16 Hilario Carrillo – RB/LB
#2 Jared Carrasco – QB/DB
#57 Stetson Nielson – DL/OL
#34 Juan Juarez – TE/LB
#52 Cesar Cerna – OL/LB
Photo By: Jason Duchow -#5 Rivin Mack
Incoming impact players:
Carson Beck, RB/DB, 11
Hulizes Ortiz, RB/DB, 10
McCoy Bair, OL/LB, 11
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
2015 was supposed to be Aberdeen’s year.
The Tigers featured a wealth of returning senior talent and playoff experience after having fallen short in the state championship game the year prior. They had ran off 11 straight victories – a school record. An undefeated season and capturing that elusive first state championship in school history was within their grasp. As the weekend of November 21st, 2015 approached, Aberdeen could see the light at the end of the tunnel. They were almost there – they could envision a championship victory on the field at the Kibbie Dome.
The desired dream never happened. Instead, a nightmare ensued and ended the Tigers run. Before Aberdeen realized it, they were down 16-0 to Grangeville. Then they lost Hilario Carrillo, the 2A District 5 Player of the Year, to a broken ankle. The defense suddenly was vulnerable, giving up play after play and run after run for big yardage. When all was said and done, Aberdeen fell 42-12 and was denied the title for the second straight year.
Fast forward to 2016.
Some familiar faces remain from the record setting squad of the last two seasons, but a number of key contributors have graduated, leaving the Tigers to fill in the gaps. Head coach Jeff Duffin, now in his fourth season leading Aberdeen, noted the graduating seniors will not easily be replaced.
“Carrillo was a huge impact player for us on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Jared Carrasco, our quarterback on offense and defense, was a two-time All-State player. Juan Juarez was First Team All-Area and controlled the outside as a linebacker.”
But if there is a silver lining to the change, it’s summed up in one word.
“Speed,” said Duffin. “We had a lot of key players for this season work hard during track season and as a result our team speed is looking very good.”
Using that team quality to its maximum extent in 2016 will be a major factor in the success that Aberdeen has on the field. The Tigers are also without two First Team All-State linemen due to graduation: Stetson Nielson and Cesar Cerna. Duffin indicated that there will be plenty of new faces on the offensive line this season.
“We had an all-senior line including both tight ends last year, “ he said. “Stetson controlled the middle of the field for us last year. Cesar was our hammer. This year, we are starting two sophomores and three juniors on the line. Our ‘X-Factor’ to the season will be how well they step up and fill the shoes of last year’s seniors… but so far they are looking good.”
As for the skill positions, Aberdeen does have some returning experience led by First Team All-Conference running back Rivin Mack, who rushed for 782 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. He will be joined in the backfield by senior Baltazar Ortiz, junior Carson Beck, and senior Joseph Lemos, who earned First Team All-State Kicker honors last year. Sophomore Hulizes Ortiz will also see time in the backfield. Mack and Beck were the only players to see significant time in the backfield last season.
With Aberdeen’s tricky double-wing offense, having a plethora of capable running backs is key. But so too is the execution of that offense.
“We are always striving for as perfect as possible execution on offense – that’s what we want to improve on,” said Duffin. “We are looking to capitalize on our speed.” The Tigers were very efficient last season in the redzone, scoring on 91% of their trips while averaging 32.3 points per game.
For as efficient as the Tigers were on offense in 2015, they were just as, if not more, efficient overall on defense limiting teams to 9.8 points per game prior to the state championship – and 12.5 points per game including the title game – while posting three shutouts and three games of seven points or less.
Many of the same faces seen on offense will play key roles on the defensive side of the ball, including Mack, Lemos, and Baltazar Ortiz at linebacker. Junior McCoy Bair will also see reps at the linebacker position. Beck and Hulizes Ortiz will help to lockdown the secondary. Senior Savino Adamson returns to anchor the defensive line along with a host of fresh faces.
Duffin believes his defensive unit can match the efficiency of the 2015 squad.
“Speed will be our main strength on defense,” he said. “I’m mainly hoping to be just as good as we were last year on the defensive side of the ball.”
There will be gaps that need to be filled as well. With so many talented seniors graduating, that leaves room for new players to step up. They will have to in a big way, as Aberdeen loses seven of their top 10 tacklers from last year’s team. Mack (74 tackles), Lemos (58 tackles), and Adamson (33 tackles) are the ones back for another campaign.
Those campaigns in the 2A South East Idaho Conference are never easy. Regarded as the best 2A conference in the state, the league boasts perennial contenders and some up-and-comers as well.
“West Side is always tough. They have great coaches and a strong tradition of winning,” Duffin said. “Bear Lake has improved a lot and might be the team to beat this year though.”
Aberdeen opens up the season on the road this year at cross-dam rival American Falls in the annual ‘War of the Reservoir’. The Beavers are much improved and have more experience on their squad this year, making them a difficult opening game. The Tigers then travel to Wendell, followed up by a three-game homestand against North Fremont, Ririe, and Malad. Aberdeen then hits the road again for two more contests against West Side and Soda Springs before finishing up the regular season at home against Bear Lake.
Duffin’s tenure in Aberdeen has been filled with success. While the school has not won a state football championship to date, the chase for that goal is what he wants his team to be a part of – the opportunity to learn and grow.
“Our theme this season is ‘Be Uncommon’,” he said. “We are working to be uncommon and are striving for uncommon results.”
Last year, the Tigers did things that were uncommon – going to two straight championship games, an 11-game winning streak, offensive and defensive records set – all of these were uncommon in Aberdeen football history. Adding a state championship would cap it all off.
“It’s a privilege to work with the young men in Aberdeen and watch them and help them along as they transform into men,” Duffin said.