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  24 Years In The Making

For the first time since the 1994 season, the Clearwater Valley Rams participated in the Idaho football playoffs.

By: Will Hoenike
Published: 11/2/2018 1:42:32 AM
 
ORDER GAME PHOTOS

Do you remember where you were on November 5, 1994?

Most of us probably don’t - especially the throngs of folks who weren’t born yet - but a lot of people who live in the town of Kooskia, Idaho not only remember, but they remember it vividly.

“It had been raining all week that week and the field was a muddy mess,” recalled Allen Hutchens, who was a senior at Clearwater Valley High School that day.

That was the last time the Rams played in a postseason football game.

Nearly a quarter century ago - 24 years to be precise, nearly to the day – Clearwater Valley hosted Homedale in what was then called the A-3 (now called 2A) playoffs. This Saturday, that drought ends when the Rams travel to Hazelton, just outside of Twin Falls, to square off with Valley High School in the 1A Division 1 playoffs.

“The town is buzzing for sure,” said athletic director and former football coach Kolby Krieger. “I was lucky enough to be Adam Uptmor's assistant coach on the 2010-11 state championship basketball team and I remember the town was buzzing back then too.”

Part of the buzz is the literal length between playoff appearances for the Rams. But part of it is what happened in that last playoff game, 24 years ago.

Homedale won the game, 6-0, on a touchdown run by Tom Bicandi late in the fourth quarter. The Trojans went on to play in the A-3 state championship game two weeks later, falling to Glenns Ferry, 12-7. Krieger has worked at Clearwater Valley since 2004 and says the game is still frequently talked about.

“I often hear about how they had their shot back in the day,” Krieger said. “I always hear about the touchdown that was called back on an inadvertent whistle.”

With the score deadlocked at 0-0, Hutchens stripped the Homedale ball carrier of the football. The Rams then picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the go-ahead touchdown, but the only problem was, the whistle blew.

“[It] was called back due to the ref not knowing where the ball was at,” Hutchens lamented.

The inadvertent whistle.

The team did not blame officials for the loss. Clearwater Valley also fumbled the ball inside the Homedale five-yard line earlier in the game.

“We came up short that day to a very good Homedale team,” Hutchens continued. “But we all believe in our hearts that if we would have made it past that game we would have won it all that year.”

Since that day, the small town along the Clearwater River, 40 miles north of Grangeville, has not tasted postseason football.

That changes this week with the Rams heading to face Valley on Saturday.

The entire community is rallying behind the team.

“There is a lot of excitement right now, especially since we will bring back nearly the entire squad next season,” Krieger mentioned. “The businesses in town have their windows painted. I see signs all over town now. Our student body has made a real effort this year to make those community connections that I believe are so important for creating a ‘can-do’ mindset.”

The Rams will have their hands full against a strong Valley team that has been ranked in the top five all season. They also go into the game knowing full well how long it has been since a Clearwater Valley team has been where this one is.

Craig Pfefferkorn, whose twin sons Tyce and Tate are juniors on the squad, was a thousand-yard rusher for the last Ram team to play postseason football.

The Pfefferkorns are far from the only legacy example in town.

“I think the whole thing sunk in for them when they beat Kamiah Friday night,” Krieger said of the win over the Kubs that clinched the playoff berth. “Seeing the fans on the sideline and realizing it was bigger than just them. It was about our community, and accomplishing something that 23 teams couldn't do before them. They understand that is an honor and now their responsibility that they want to get back again."

It may not be the same as a home game, but the players and community certainly appreciate November football for the first time in over two decades.

 


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