Head Coach: Jeff Duffin
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Previous Experience: 8 Years Youth Football
4 Years High School Assistant
Record Last Year: 9-1
State Titles: None
Matthew Klassen, QB/LB, 12
Hulizes Ortiz, RB/DB, 12
Mitchell Spence, OL/DL, 12
Spencer Watson, OL/DL, 12
Ruben Castanon, RB/LB, 12
Alec Feld, TE/S, 12
Mason Leishman, OL/DL, 12
Rhett Peck, OL/LB, 12
Sean Phillips, OL/DL, 12
Abel Torres, RB/LB/K, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Hulizes Ortiz – 2nd Team All-State RB, District 5 Offensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Area
Abel Torres – 2nd Team All-State K, 2nd Team All-Conference LB/K
Spencer Watson – 2nd Team All-State DL, 2nd Team All-Conference
Mitchell Spence – 1st Team All-Conference OL/DL
Alec Feld – 2nd Team All-Conference DB
Photo By: Kyle Riley - #23 Matthew Klassen
Written By: Matt Harris
The Aberdeen Tigers know what it feels like.
The pain and anguish from coming so close to their ultimate goal, only to see it slip away. The black and orange have put together a 43-11 record since 2013, but they have yet to secure the coveted blue trophy. They are hoping that 2018 is the year they can return to the championship game and finally bring home the hardware they’ve long desired – and experience the feeling of winning-it-all.
Plenty of players on both sides of the ball return for their senior campaigns, including a number of All-State selections such as running back Hulizes Ortiz, defensive lineman Spencer Watson, and kicker Abel Torres.
Sixth year head coach Jeff Duffin says returners on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense, will play a big role in the Tigers success in 2018.
“We are returning eight starters from last year,” he said, adding that the Tigers’ offensive line will be bigger than it’s ever been. “We have Spencer Watson (6’7”, 300 lbs) and Mitchell Spence (6’3”, 215 lbs) who have started for us since they were sophomores and have a lot of experience and understand our blocking schemes very well. Combined with Hulizes Ortiz at running back and quarterback Matthew Klassen’s speed in the backfield, we should be very hard to stop.”
Aberdeen will continue to run the shotgun double-wing offense, which is predicated on precise execution every play. With the size, speed, and experience that Aberdeen has within that offense, the Tigers could explode for a lot of points once again.
The size of the offensive line will certainly translate over to the defense, as Watson, Spence, and Mason Leishman will anchor the defensive line in the Tigers 3-4 scheme. Rhett Peck returns to outside linebacker and could be a player to watch.
“Rhett played very well for us last year and we are expecting him to have a big year,” Duffin said.
As it is in high school sports, there is constant turnover with personnel – players graduate and new players step up and fill in their roles. The turnover from last year to this year will impact the secondary the most, an aspect of the defense that Duffin hopes they can match in efficiency.
“We lost a lot of experience in the secondary from last year so we aren’t necessarily hoping to improve on our pass defense, we are just hoping to be as good as we were last year,” he said.
Success has been consistent in Aberdeen since Duffin took over in 2013. The Tigers have never lost more than three games in a season with him at the helm, while making two appearances in the state championship game. When asked how the Tigers have been able to elevate their program over the last few years, Duffin was quick to credit the student-athletes and his coaching staff.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have good athletes and we’ve been consistent in sticking to our offense and defense,” he said. “Our assistant coaches have been a major factor as well.”
Tiger assistant Derek Jolley helps coach the Aberdeen youth football teams and assistant Jared Reed has been in charge of the strength and conditioning programs at the school, along with the Tigers’ track program.
“Derek has coached this year’s senior class since they were in fifth grade,” Duffin said. “He is a huge factor in our consistency as we run the same system from youth football all the way through high school. The programs that Jared runs has also been a major factor in our consistency.”
Duffin hopes that his squad will have consistency in the health department in 2018 as well.
“As a small school, we have limited numbers so our X-factor is always injuries,” he said. “If we can stay healthy we will have a shot at winning every game we play.”
The Tigers will play an 8-game schedule this season, including some tantalizing non-conference matchups. The black and orange get underway on August 24th on the road in the “War of the Reservoir” against arch-rival American Falls, who will be coached this season by former Aberdeen coach Cory Hollingsworth.
Many eyes will be on their Week 2 matchup at home against the defending 2A state champion Declo Hornets, a game that could show more of what the statewide landscape looks like in 2018. The Tigers then welcome a well-coached North Fremont Huskies team on Sept. 7.
Aberdeen will open up South East Idaho Conference play in Week 4 when they hit the road to face Bear Lake in Montpelier, a team that Duffin believes could surprise. Conference rival West Side will host the Tigers on Sept. 21 in what should be another classic matchup between the two schools.
Following a bye week for spud harvest, the Tigers get back into action on Oct. 5 when they travel to District III to face the Marsing Huskies. Aberdeen finishes their regular season schedule with a pair of home games against Soda Springs on Oct. 12 and Malad on Oct. 18.
Could this be the year the Tigers earn the blue trophy? With the size, speed, and experience they possess, expect Aberdeen to certainly be in the mix once November rolls around.