Football preview: No. 15 Durant — Aug. 15


At a glance

Coach: Clayton Varnum, second season

Class: 4, District 8 (Metro)

Last season: 8-3

Key players: DL Gage Aroz, Sr.; OT Ajai Brown, Sr.;QB Calub Connell, Sr.; FS/CB Jayden Cornelius, So.; RB/DB Alex Daley, Jr.; WR/CB Jeremiah Gines, Sr.; WR/LB Elian Gonzalez, Sr.; MLB Jacob Reed, Sr.; DL Greg Smith, Sr. 


Aug. 19 vs. Freedom, 7:30 (preseason)

Aug. 26 at Chamberlain, 7:30

Sept. 2 vs. Middleton, 7:30

Sept. 9 vs. Bloomingdale, 7:30

Sept. 16 at Plant City, 7:30

Sept. 23 vs. Lennard, 7:30

Sept. 30 at Sumner, 7:30

Oct. 7 at Sickles, 7:30

Oct. 14 vs. Newsome, 7:30

Oct. 21 at Gaither, 7:30

Oct. 28 vs. Riverview, 7:30

Nov. 4 Bye


Last year, Clayton Varnum had a successful debut as coach, guiding Durant to an 8-3 record and a playoff berth. Now, the Cougars are trying to win a district title. Varnum said the change in culture is big towards reaching that goal. Marcus Miguele, who threw for more than 1,000 and rushed for more than 600 last season, has graduated. Caleb Connell, the understudy to Miguele a year ago, is the leading candidate to take over as starter. Connell (747 yards rushing last season) is a dual threat much like Miguele. There are plenty of targets in the passing game with receivers Jeremiah Gines (418 yards, eight touchdowns a year ago) and Elian Gonzalez (250 yards, four touchdowns) both returning. The bulk of the rushing load likely will be handled by Alex Daley, who had nearly 600 yards on the ground last year. The offensive line will be led by Ajai Brown. On defense, there is a lot of veteran leadership, led by linemen Greg Smith (22 tackles, two sacks), Gage Aroz (five tackles, one sack), linebacker Jacob Reed (93 tackles, one sack) and defensive back Jayden Cornelius (12 tackles, five interceptions).