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Prep football preview: New Mt. Shasta coach John Dutton looking beyond football

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08/13/2017 | 02:46 am

Aug. 12--MSHSOC.JPG

John Dutton, pictured during Lions All-Star North practice in June, is the new Mt. Shasta football coach.(Photo: Patrick Carr/Record Searchlight)

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John Dutton had sort of an epiphany while playing in the Arena Football League around 12 years ago.

He was throwing tons of touchdown passes, and went on to throw the seventh-most in AFL history in his decorated career.

But he asked himself, what was he doing for others? What was the significance of it all?

In 2011 he started Athletes of the Nations, a non-profit with a mission to inspire athletes to not only be successful, but be significant and impact others.

Part of AOTN's impact is humanitarian service in impoverished areas of Africa.

Dutton has been to Africa several times in his life and now he's the Mt. Shasta football coach.

His goal, though, goes beyond football.

"My whole goal right now...is not just athletes, but growing them into the men they're going to be," he said. "I don't know up here how many of these guys are going to move on to college football, but 100 percent of them are going to be men."

Dutton takes the reins of a team that's defending a Shasta Cascade League championship, but also struggling with numbers and adjusting to the departure of the head coach, Tony Pavlic, who led the Bears to that league title.

Mt. Shasta High School

Mt. Shasta High School (Photo: Record Searchlight)

Dutton was originally brought in this season as the offensive coordinator, and had just returned home from Ohio when he found out Pavlic stepped down.

If anybody knows something about offense, it might be him. Dutton, 41, ranks sixth all-time in the Arena Football League in passing yards (37,981), sixth in pass completions (3,280) and seventh in passing touchdowns (752).

He won two ArenaBowl championships, one with the San Jose SaberCats and another with the Colorado Crush. Dutton was named ArenaBowl MVP after leading San Jose to the title in 2002.

To add a little notoriety, Dutton was on the cover of the first EA Sports Arena Football League video game in 2006.

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He played college football at Nevada-Reno under the legendary Chris Ault and was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Miami in 1998. Dutton has been coaching at College of the Siskiyous the past three years.

His next task is leading the Bears into an uphill battle this year. They open the season against two Northern Athletic League foes followed by the defending Northern Section Division V champion Biggs.

In SCL play, they face two of the toughest teams, Fall River and U-Prep, on the road. Mt. Shasta has to replace quarterback Thairen Sivongsa, 93 percent of its rushing yardage and try to avoid injuries as much as possible with a smaller team this year.

The Bears do have Myles Deleon returning (80 tackles, five fumble recoveries, 234 receiving yards) this year, but have around 17-18 players on the roster currently.

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Depth will be at a premium.

"My guys are going to go have to play a whole lot of football. Play offense, then special teams, then defense," Dutton said.

Where depth is a relative weakness, Dutton has been impressed with the attitude of the whole team so far, especially the offensive line.

"The O-line is a bunch of guys who don't necessarily look like an O-line but they're getting after it," he said.

The preseason coaching change and lack of depth put more intrigue into the league title race, with Fall River having an experienced coach take over the program again and U-Prep looking determined to put its name in the hat.

WHAT'S NEW

Coaching staff: John Dutton takes over the Bears after they went 8-3 and won the SCL last year. But he was only named head coach in July, so time is of the essence for the Bears to learn a new offense.

WORTH NOTING

Key Stretch: The Bears open with a very tough non-league slate from Aug. 25 to Sept. 29. They start at Yreka, a much-larger school whom they've traditionally struggled against. Home games against a rejuvenated Central Valley and defending NSCIF D-V champion Biggs follow. Then it's a home game against out-of-state opponent Klamath Union before a tough trip to Durham and a home tilt with Chester.

Better than most: Mt. Shasta's scoring defense allowed just 16 points per game last year, by far the best in the SCL and the fifth-best in Division IV.

Impact player: TE/SS Myles Deleon was one of the Bears' best two-way players last year, and has taken on the leadership role this year.

MT. SHASTA BEARS

2016 SEASON: 8-3 record, Shasta Cascade League champions, lost to Colusa 14-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

2017 OPPOSITION RECORD: 48-62 (.436), four playoff teams, two section runner-ups, one section champion.

KEY LOSSES: QB/DB Thairen Sivongsa, RB/LB Tyler Santi, RB/DL Cole Skinner, RB/DE Alex Urbano, OL/LB Kenji Maumasi, WR/DB Elisha Reyes.

KEY RETURNERS: TE/SS Myles Deleon, WR/FS Brian Howe, WR/SS Devin Muller, OL/DL Marshall Parker.

KEY NEWCOMERS: QB Gage Kinkade, OL Elijah Rodriguez.

AREA OF STRENGTH: Skill players--Dutton is excited about the talent the Bears have this year coming up from the junior varsity level, but says it could take some time for them to get adjusted to varsity speed.

AREA OF WEAKNESS: Continuity and depth--The Bears have gone through several coaches the past decade-and-a-half; Mt. Shasta didn't have many players show up for offseason workouts and at the moment, have 17-18 players on the roster. No rest for the weary.

RETURNING STARTERS: Deleon, and a few players who started a game here and there, Dutton said.

BASE OFFENSE/DEFENSE: Multi-set/5-2.

2017 SCHEDULE:

Aug. 25 at Yreka, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 1 vs. Central Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 vs. Biggs, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 vs. Klamath Union (OR), 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Durham, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 vs. Chester, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 at U-Prep*, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Fall River*, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 vs. Etna*, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 BYE

Nov. 3 vs. Modoc*, 7:30 p.m.

*Shasta Cascade League game

BY THE NUMBERS:

2--Winning seasons since 2004.

3--Playoff appearances since 2004.

7--Coaches since 2004 including Dutton.

28--Turnovers forced by the defense last year.

31.75--Average margin of victory in league games last year.

This is the second in the Record Searchlight's prep football team preview series. Each day, a different team will be previewed up until Aug. 24, the day before the regular season begins.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_RS, on Facebook at Patrick Carr RS or by email at [email protected]

Area team previews:

Burney

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