Aberdeen High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Jeff Duffin
Years as Head Coach: 5th Season
Previous Experience: Eight years in youth football and four years as an assistant in high school football.
Record Last Year: 8-3
State Titles: None
#23, Matthew Klassen, 11, QB/TE/LB
#56, McCoy Bair, 12, OL/DL
#4, Hulizes Ortiz, 11, RB/DB
#65, Mitchell Spence, 11, OL/DL
#60, Spencer Watson, 11, OL/DL
#9, Carson Beck, 12, RB/DB
#24, Dallon Elliott, 12, RB/DB
#52, Bryson Foster, 12, OL/LB
#3, Jacob Hall, 12, QB/TE/LB
#25, Victor Klassen, 12, TE/DB
#55, Dexton Wallace, 12, OL/DL
Returning Players with Honors:
#55, Dexton Wallace, 1st Team All-State OL - 2nd Team All-Conference OL, 2nd Team All-Area OL
#65, Mitchell Spence, 2nd Team All-State OL - 1st Team All-Conference - OL, 2nd Team All-Area OL
#9, Carson Beck, 2nd Team All-State RB - Utility Player All-Conference, Honorable Mention All-Area RB
#52, Bryson Foster, 2nd Team All-State LB – 2nd Team All-Conference
#25, Victor Klassen, 2nd Team All-State DB - 2nd Team All-Conference TE
#23, Matthew Klassen, 2nd Team All-Conference QB
#56, McCoy Bair, 2nd Team All-Conference DL
#4, Hulizes Ortiz, Honorable Mention All-Conference
#60, Spencer Watson, Honorable Mention All-Conference
#3, Jacob Hall, Honorable Mention All-Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
Joseph Lemos – 4-year First Team All-State kicker.
Rivin Mack – RB/OLB
Balta Ortiz – RB/LB
Trey Peck – OL/OLB
Chase Chris – TE/CB
Photo By: Kyle Riley - #23 Matthew Klassen
Incoming impact players:
Ever since Jeff Duffin assumed the reigns of the Aberdeen football program, the Tigers have become a force to be reckoned with in the 2A classification. In four years, Duffin has helped the Tigers to the playoffs all four seasons plus three consecutive appearances in the state semifinals, including two trips to the state championship game in 2014 and 2015.
While the state title that Aberdeen so desires has eluded them to this point, the orange and black are sure to be in the mix once again in 2017. And they will have plenty of experience to work with.
“Last year, we had no returning starters on our offensive line and at our tight end positions,” said Duffin, now in his fifth season as the head coach of the Tigers. “This year, we return everybody, which will be a huge strength for our team.”
On the offensive line, a pair of All-State selections will anchor the trenches in senior Dexton Wallace and junior Mitchell Spence. They will be joined by senior McCoy Bair, junior Spencer Watson, and senior Bryson Foster to help fortify one of the more overlooked and underappreciated positions in football. Duffin said that he expects Watson to open up a lot of eyes this season along with the rest of the linemen.
“Spencer started for us on both sides of the ball last year as a sophomore, but he has made a lot of progress between seasons,” the head coach said. “At 6’8” and 280 pounds, he should have a big impact on games this year.”
Duffin is also expecting a big impact from his team’s run game this year. Aberdeen operates out of various double wing formations and this season’s group of running backs are ideally suited to have success within that offense.
The Tiger’s return All-State senior running back Carson Beck, along with senior Dallon Elliott and junior Hulizes Ortiz. Add in junior quarterback Matthew Klassen along with senior tight ends Jacob Hall and Victor Klassen and the Tigers present a formidable offense with speed… lots of speed.
“Our group behind our offensive front broke the state record in the 4 x 100 relay at state track last year,” Duffin said of Hulizes Ortiz, Matthew Klassen, Carson Beck, and Dallon Elliott. “They all clocked 40-times between 4.36 and 4.52 seconds. Our experience upfront and our speed in the backfield will certainly be our strength this year. That’s what I’m most excited about heading into the season.”
Duffin was particularly praiseworthy of junior running back Hulizes Ortiz, whom he said has earned the progress he made once the 2016 season was over.
“Hulizes played in and started a lot of games for us as a sophomore but he has worked very hard in the offseason,” he said. “He’s poised to have a huge year at running back with his speed.” Ortiz clocked a 4.36 40-time recently.
With having practically everyone back, it allows Aberdeen the opportunity to fine tune the offense as opposed to having to reset and re-learn it like many other teams in the state.
“Not having to relearn the offense will give our guys the opportunity to prepare to recognize and adjust to whatever the defense is doing quicker,” Duffin said. “We hope to improve on our recognition of whatever the defense brings to us.”
Defensively, the Tigers return several All-Conference players including McCoy Bair, Mitchell Spence, and Spencer Watson on the defensive line. The secondary will also be loaded with the return of All-State defensive back Victor Klassen along with Carson Beck, Hulizes Ortiz, and Dallon Elliott.
If there is a concern defensively, it’s in the linebacking corps for Aberdeen. The Tigers lost all four starters from last season, including Rivin Mack, Trey Peck, Baltazar Ortiz, and Joseph Lemos. However, Duffin feels that his incoming crew of linebackers are ready to fill their shoes.
“We have to fill all four starting spots. However, we have a group of guys led by All-State linebacker Bryson Foster that are up for the challenge,” he said.
Duffin added that the speed of the secondary plus the amount of returning experience should aid the growth and progression of the defense.
“One of our big goals on defense is to not give up big plays,” he said. “With our speed and experience, we hope to be able to achieve that goal.” Duffin also said that ‘staying healthy’ is an X-factor to their success.
Aberdeen opens the season with two straight home contests, first against cross-dam rival American Falls on Aug. 25 followed by a home contest against Wendell out of District 4. The Tigers will then hit the road for three straight weeks as they travel to Ashton to face North Fremont on Sept. 8, followed by trips to Ririe on Sept. 15 and to Malad on Sept. 22 to open their conference schedule. Following a bye week on Sept. 29, Aberdeen will wrap up their regular season at home against West Side on Oct. 6, on the road at Soda Springs on Oct. 13, and at home on Oct. 19 against the defending conference champions, the Bear Lake Bears.
“Both of those games against West Side and Bear Lake to close out the year are going to be must-see games,” said Duffin. Both West Side and Bear Lake qualified for the playoffs last season, with Bear Lake also reaching the state semifinals.
Could this be the year that the Tigers finally break through? If orange and black can stay healthy throughout the year and execute, the Aberdeen faithful could very well see their team once again playing into mid-November.