When a man leaves, how long do his fingerprints remain?
For nearly three decades, Roger Dupaix molded Skyline football into one of the most successful programs in Utah, one that won eight state championships — including five straight 5A titles from 1995 to 1999. Along the way, he accumulated a record 301 victories, retiring as the Eagles continue to ride 23 consecutive winning seasons, tops in the state’s prep history.
» Skyline will be without head coach Roger Dupaix for the first time since 1986.
» Dupaix won eight state championships, including five straight, and retired with the Eagles on a streak of 23 winning seasons.
» Steve Marlowe, a longtime assistant, will try and maintain the same culture and success.
But when Skyline visits Hurricane this Friday, Dupaix will be absent from the sideline for the first time since 1986 — when Reagan was president, Oprah launched a new show and the Mets won a World Series.
In his place is longtime assistant Steve Marlowe, who spent 26 years on Dupaix’s staff. While the local legend leaves Salt Lake City to serve an LDS mission with his wife, Edie, Marlowe will be tasked with maintaining a glowing legacy.
To those familiar with the program, the transition will be seamless.
"Roger was a little bit more quiet, but overall they’re pretty similar," said senior wide receiver Garrett England.
"They’re both very even-keeled," said defensive coordinator Justin Thompson, a 1992 Skyline alum. "Neither has a lot of temper. Both are very good men whose first priority is character development, making sure that people are doing things the right way.
"I don’t honestly think I can identify a whole lot of differences. Coach Marlowe is much bigger than Roger."
Bigger, yes, but his voice is nearly as soft. Watch a practice, and you’ll see Marlowe float between his players and assistants, ease balanced with command. All he has to do, after all, is keep teaching what Roger taught.
Values and responsibility, first and foremost. It’s a common line for football coaches at nearly any level, but Marlowe’s quiet gravitas — the same sort Dupaix had — lends the words additional weight.
He even ties the lessons to the team’s option offense, long the backbone of Skyline’s football identity.
"A lot of the way football’s gone now is, the quarterback stands there, stats are everything," Marlowe says. "The option is great because all 11 guys on offense can perform.
"The fullback might get the ball, the halfback might get the ball, the quarterback might get the ball, he might throw the ball. Every play requires great teamwork."
The Eagles haven’t won a title since 2005, exiting with a quarterfinal loss to East last fall. Enrollment is down from over 2,000 a decade ago to less than 1,500. The decline can be partially attributed to discontinuation of paid bussing into the district — something that originally began in 1985 to boost the area’s small student body.
Back then, Skyline numbered at around only 1,200. The sudden growth was one reason Marlowe was hired in the first place: The school needed more teachers. A side effect was that the pool of potential football players swelled as well.
"From that, it evolved into an unfair advantage for Skyline," Marlowe says.
As the pendulum swings back, the new head coach moves forward with unflappable optimism. He’ll add new wrinkles to both sides of the ball, but Dupaix’s system worked for 26 years. To change would be foolish.
"I could have told you this 20 years ago," he says. "That little ingredient, that thing that Roger had, what it takes to be successful — it never changes."
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