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Celebrating the 2020/2021 DRFP Season

After a Covid-19 abbreviated season, let's look back on the season, and celebrate what the coaches, players, staff, and community accomplished! It would be easy to point out the negatives, but there's already too much of that, so let’s focus on the positives that we saw this season, and there is no better place to begin than with the season ending awards.


5A NORTH COACH OF THE YEAR – SHAWN DUPRIS

Congratulations Head Coach Shawn Dupris. His squad finished ranked number one in the 5A North and second in the state of Nevada. During his tenure at Damonte Ranch High School, the Mustangs have posted (by my unofficial count) a record of 71-30, good for a 70%-win percentage. His Mustangs have won the last five Sierra League Titles, and have not lost a Sierra League game since 2015. It has taken a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, to get to this point, let's take a quick look at Coach Dupris' DRHS tenure.

2012 – Coach’s first year, labels the program DRFP (Damonte Ranch Football Program), goes 6-6 finishing second in the North, leading the Mustangs to their first Northern Title game appearance

2013 – finished with a 7-4 record, lost to Carson in the second round of the playoffs

2014 – this was the first year that Coach added California schools to the schedule, Damonte went 0-2 against those schools but playing them has been an important part of the development of the program; lost in the first round of the playoffs

2015 – finished with a 4-7 record, last Sierra League loss, lost in the first round of the playoffs at Reno High on a frigid Friday night

2016 – Won the North, lost to Liberty in the State Semi-Final; finished the year with a 12-2 mark, 2-1 against California schools

2017 – went 3-0 against the California schools, 11-1 win/loss record, lost to Reed in the second round of the playoffs

2018 – finished 12-1 losing to the Bishop Manogue Miners in the Northern Title Game; 3-0 against California schools

2019 – Lost to Bishop Manogue in the Northern Title Game, finished the season with an 11-2 record with a 1-1 record against California schools

2020 – Covid-19 abbreviated Spring season, finished 4-0 winning the Sierra League


Coach Dupris, and his staff, did not have a single positive Covid-19 test result in their program this season. This is an amazing accomplishment for everyone associated with the program. This accomplishment bookends their continued success in the classroom, having established the program as an annual contender for the Academic Football State Champions. One cannot celebrate Coach Dupris accomplishments without recognizing his fantastic staff as well: Ben Coffield, C.J. Wintch, Joe Lawrence, Darin Heredia, Chase Lynch, Mark Jamison, Randy Misch, Kelvin Howell, and Tyler Holman. A number of these coaches have been a part of the program for years, and as a parent of a student that was in the program for four years, all I can say is thank you for all you do for our student-athletes! Next up, the Northern 5A PLAYER OF THE YEAR, ETHAN KULPIN.


The Mustangs were led this season by senior quarterback/safety Ethan Kulpin. In four games Kulpin passed for 669 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions. In addition to the yards through the air, Kulpin rushed for 208 yards, good for 6.5 yards per carry (and I imagine he would credit his offensive lineman if he were writing this article). Kulpin had 41 tackles this season, just more than 10 tackles per game from his safety position. In two years as the starting quarterback, Kulpin led the Mustangs to a 15-2 record, winning the Sierra League both years. Kulpin’s football intelligence is only matched by his physical prowess. In conversations with Bishop Manogue Head Coach Ernie Howren, Coach Howren has been very complimentary of Kulpin, calling him one of the best players he has seen play in Northern Nevada. Kulpin and the 5A Northern Offensive Player of the Year, Elijah Tau Tolliver, authored one of the most poignant moments of the season, exchanging a heartfelt hug before their week one matchup. Kulpin wasn’t alone in leading the Mustangs this season though, senior running back, and linebacker, Carson Smith, was right ther


5A DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, Carson Smith, finished the season with 47 tackles, good for more than 11 per game. Five of those tackles were quarterback sacks, with three of those coming in the pivotal week one matchup with the Reed Raiders. Smith also finished with 566 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Like Kulpin, Smith’s approach to the game is intelligent and physical, embodying the program’s mantra of “Fast & Mean”. And to illustrate what a great athlete Smith is, he opened the baseball season with a win over Galena and a grand slam.


A number of other Mustangs picked up season ending honors including senior lineman, and kicker, Benny Marshall. Senior wide receiver and defensive back Nick Vargas picked up a remarkable assortment of postseason honors, and here are the other Mustangs that picked up postseason honors:


5A ALL-NORTH SELECTIONS

CARSON SMITH, FIRST TEAM RUNNING BACK, FIRST TEAM LINEBACKER

ILEX GARCIA, FIRST TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

NICK VARGAS, FIRST TEAM WIDE RECEIVER, FIRST TEAM DEFENSIVE BACK

DEREK MONTOYA, SECOND TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

CADE RODAHAFFER, SECOND TEAM TIGHT END

BENNY MARSHALL, FIRST TEAM DEFENSIVE END, SECOND TEAM KICKER

ETHAN KULPIN, FIRST TEAM DEFENSIVE BACK

CHRIS GONZALES, SECOND TEAM DEFENSIVE TACKLE

RYAN MANDICHAK, SECOND TEAM LINEBACKER


SIERRA LEAGUE SELECTIONS

CARSON SMITH, FIRST TEAM RUNNING BACK, FIRST TEAM LINEBACKER

NICK VARGAS, FIRST TEAM WIDEOUT

DEREK MONTOYA, FIRST TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

ILEX GARCIA, FIRST TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

BENNY MARSHALL, FIRST TEAM KICKER, FIRST TEAM DEFENSIVE END

CADE RODAHOFFER, FIRST TEAM TIGHT END

ETHAN KULPIN, SECOND TEAM QUARTERBACK

RYAN MANDICHAK, FIRST TEAM ATHLETE, LINEBACKER

IAN WILLIAMS, SECOND TEAM WIDEOUT

COLE WEST, SECOND TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

HONORABLE MENTION: TYLER CLARK, WIDE RECEIVER; BEN LARSEN, OFFENSIVE LINE


I have not been able to find the complete list of Sierra League selections for defense, once I do, I will update this article with those. This group of seniors will be sorely missed, but we wish each of them the best of luck after graduation, reminding them that Damonte loves them and we are always here for them.


About Your Author – Lynn Ault covers DRHS athletics for Battle Born Preps. Both his children graduated from DRHS, and his wife, A’Laina, is the head of the math department. Ault can also be found working with middle and high school students at Hope Community, a south Reno church.



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