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Statewide Midseason Football Report | 3A and 2A
These teams are the on the rise as the final stretch of the season begins
Published: 9/26/2019 5:19:19 PM
 

3A Classification

The Snake River Valley Conference houses two of 3A’s fiercest competitors in Homedale and Weiser. The Trojans and Wolverines continue to land offensive haymakers week in and week out, with both teams averaging more than 40 points per game.

Homedale Head Coach Matt Holtry credited the experience of quarterback Daniel Uranga, who he said executes the offensive plan with ease.

“Efficiency on scoring so far has been a plus,” Holtry said. “We are still needing to clean up some self-inflicted wounds as far as three-and-out’s, but overall I’m very pleased with the progress.”

But a productive offense for the Trojans seems hardly necessary, especially when the team is backed by a defense that’s allowed just 21 points this season. Spencer Fisher leads the effort on that end, notching 26 total tackles and a pair of sacks.

Weiser, while hot on the Trojan’s trail, hasn't posted explosive blowouts like their conference rivals, but have put together four well-earned victories to start the year. 

Quarterback Brett Spencer and running back Layten Tolman have pulled the Wolverines through each contest, with seven of Weiser’s 10 rushing touchdowns belonging to the pair. The defense, according to Head Coach Tom Harrison, does some of its best work in the red zone, stopping opposing offenses on the goal line three times.

Weiser entered the conversation of serious 3A contenders following a wild back-and-forth game against Gooding in Week 3.

The Senators were riding a two-game winning streak to start the season, outscoring opponents 95-13.

In that mid-September game, quarterback Shane Jennings racked up five of his 12 touchdowns on the year and threw for 465 yards without a pick, but the offensive firepower of Gooding, combined with a plethora of penalties, just couldn't keep pace with the feisty Wolverines. 

Nevertheless, Gooding rebounded from the upset, escaping with a 28-26 win against the 3-0 Snake River Panthers the following week.

The Panther offense, after a dominant win against Kimberly in August, somewhat deflated in the next three weeks, as a 42-point game became eclipsed by a seven-point outing the next week.

The Panthers rely heavily on a host of backs to produce on offense, with five players accounting for 10 rushing touchdowns. Treyton Young holds the team rushing title at the midway point of the season, carrying the rock 62 times for 336 yards and four touchdowns.

As the season progresses, Head Coach Jeb Harrison said his offense continues to balance, dialing up roughly 16  passes per game.

Out of the Mountain Rivers Conference, a similar battle between two heavyweights continues to play out. Sugar-Salem and South Fremont both possess 3-1 records, but it’s the Digger defense that takes the conference cake.

Sugar has played three in-state games — Declo, Shelley and Marsh Valley — and has allowed exactly zero points. Opposing teams haven’t even had the chance to think about a field goal attempt, with defensive monsters like Crew Clark and Sam Parkinson halting receivers and running backs in their tracks.

Turnovers became a cornerstone of the Sugar defense, with players like Browing Bennion, Parkinson and Clark intercepting passes and forcing fumbles left and right. Parkinson has returned two fumbles for touchdowns this year.

Despite having a group of ball hawks on defense, the Diggers possess a plus-one turnover ratio.

“We have had some ball security issues early this year, and that has really been a point of emphasis in practice the last few weeks,” said Head Coach Tyler Richins. “We understand we have to take care of the football if we want to beat good teams.”

Bennion and Parkinson rarely catch a breather under the Friday night lights, as the pair also lead the running back committee for Sugar. Richins has called their numbers exactly 30 times each this season to strikingly similar success. Bennion rushed for 244 yards and two touchdowns, while Parkinson sits just behind him with 242 yards and two scores.

“These dudes live in the trenches and don't get any press. These guys make it happen and they are the biggest reason we have been successful this year,” Richins said. “Our motto for the last few years has been ‘run the ball, stop the run.’ We feel like if we can do those two things, we can be very successful.”

South Fremont remains tied with Sugar-Salem for the top spot in the Mountain Rivers, but the Cougars have yet to display a “prove-it” game, with three of their wins coming against 2A teams. But South Fremont displayed just how potent its offense could be against West Jefferson, posting 63 points in Week 2.

Meanwhile, in the Intermountain League, Timberlake has deftly cruised through the competition, going 3-0 on the season and failing to score less than 40 points. Headed by 16-year Head Coach Roy Albertson, the defending league champions seem incapable of not scoring on offense, while allowing an average 16 points per game.

 

2A Classification

The Huskies don’t call his number often, but when they do, the opposing secondary better watch out.

North Fremont quarterback Luke Hill posted somewhat average stats through his first four games — 293 yards and four touchdowns — but the Huskies’ leading man managed the feat in just 10 completions.

Head Coach Ben Lenz said his quarterback finds the big plays when called upon, which is not often. Lenz called 21 passing plays through his first four games, compared to feeding his leading rusher Riggen Cordingley 75 times. Deshon Wheeler backs up the reliable Husky runner, earning 46 carries.

When it comes to snagging passes, receiver Jordan Lenz pulled his weight on offense and defense. The sophomore standout recorded three touchdowns when catching passes from Hill. Conversely, Lenz also has three interceptions on the other side of the ball.

Cordingley serves as another all-around contributor, rushing for 508 yards on the year while also leading the defense in tackles.

In the Western Idaho Conference, McCall-Donnelly and Cole Valley Christian lead the entire 3A classification in point differentials. The Vandals hold the lead with plus-55 points, allowing just six points all year and posting two shutouts.

The Vandals haven’t been scored on since August. Since defeating Orofino 63-6 to open the season, McCall-Donnelly’s defense has actually outscored all of the team’s opponents to this points, with two turnovers returned for touchdowns.

“There has been a massive amount of work done here and the guys are dying to play more football,” said Head Coach Lee Leslie. “Everything is working right now.”

Cole Valley Christian took after its rival’s opening performance, winning back-to-back games 62-0 against Payette and Wendell. The Chargers’ massive differential was cut down in Week 3 thanks to a hard-fought win against 3A Fruitland, but Cole Valley looks primed to continue electrifying the scoreboard as conference play continues.

The Chargers can thank three players for their offensive production, with 6-foot-2 receiver Brady Frame and quarterback Carter Fortin teaming up for 178 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Obi Gee, meanwhile, picks up where the two leave off, rushing for 283 yards and four more touchdowns.

McCall-Donnelly and Cole Valley Christian will meet Oct. 25 in the final game of the season in what could be a fight for the WIC crown.

No. 2 West Side came just a point shy of a 4-0 start after losing 7-6 to Snake River in Week 2. Beside that one misstep, the Pirate defense gets better and better, posting a shutout in their latest outing against Ririe.

The Pirates, led by quarterback Ryan Beckstead, will look to improve to 4-1 against Aberdeen, a matchup which historically featured a pair of 2A powerhouses. But with Aberdeen securing just one win on the season, West Side could easily earn its first conference win of the season.

St. Maries rose to the top of the Central Idaho League with ease, a full two games ahead of Grangeville with just four games left on the schedule.

“We have a really young team this year and they are playing much better than I had anticipated,” said Head Coach Craig Tefft. “It will be interesting to see how far we go this season.”

The Lumberjacks have dual-threat quarterback Eli Gibson to thank for its surprisingly successful season. Tefft said Gibson’s leadership unified the locker room, backed up by his six total touchdowns and 536 yards on the ground.

But where Gibson excels with his legs, chemistry with his receivers still need work, as Tefft cited dropped passes as a large reason for his quarterback’s 29% completion rate.

The Canyon Conference might only house two teams, but it’s top competitor isn’t afraid to take its talents up to 3A. Declo was underhanded against Sugar-Salem in Week 1, losing 54-0, but since then has defeated two more 3A teams in Kimberly and Buhl.

“The key is continued improvement, we can't be complacent. We have to continue to run the ball effectively and add a complimentary passing attack,” said Head Coach Josh Stewart. “Defensively we need to continue to grow into the system and be able to force more turnovers.”

Stewart said he took the initiative to experiment and move around key players, such as AJ Lyda to the offensive line while also spending time at defensive end. Sam Mallory, meanwhile, moved to outside linebacker after that first loss to Sugar, helping seal the edge.

The defensive adjustments paid off big for Stewart’s squad, as the Hornets have allowed an average of 10 points per game since Week 1.

 

 


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