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Statewide Midseason Football Report | 1AD1 and 1AD2
These eight-man teams have the best chance of making a splash in the postseason
Published: 9/27/2019 2:01:19 PM

1ADI Classification

Cluttered with greatness, the Snake River Conference houses some of the most dominant 1ADI teams in the state. With schools like Oakley and Valley storming through the season undefeated, the SRC could very well be represented in this year’s State Finals.

Oakley took the top spot in the conference after defeating last-place Challis 70-18, the highest scoring affair for the Hornets this year. 

Led by offensive weapons Chandler Jones and Josh Nyman, holdovers from last year’s State Finals loss, the Hornets haven’t slowed their 2018 momentum, averaging 51.5 points per game behind first-year Head Coach Brennan Jones.

Also undefeated on the year, but without a conference win, the Valley Vikings possess the highest point per game average in the division. After three straight games scoring 60 or more, The Vikings look more than capable of repeating their State Title.

Quarterback Rawlin Godfrey and fourth-year Head Coach Ryon Jarvis have the Viking offense on a hot streak, but Friday’s meeting with Oakley will put their skills to the test. With Oakley earning the top spot in the statewide media poll, Valley could earn both top billing in the polls and a first-place spot in the conference with one fell swoop.

Prairie serves as another example of how explosive eight-man football offenses can be, scoring a whopping 78 points against Troy in Week 2.

“We are only three games into the year.  It is a long season and we need to work on improving every week,” said Head Coach Ryan Hasseltrom. “We know how hard it is to make it into November, so we just need to keep our focus and work together as a team.”

Hasseltrom credited multi-purpose back Owen Anderson, a powerful runner who can make plays in space when catching passes out of the backfield. Anderson also leads the team in tackles on defense and forced turnovers from the linebacker position.

Receiver Derik Shears gives the Pirates a viable downfield option, somehow scoring six touchdowns on only seven receptions. Of course, a deadly accurate quarterback helps when finding talented receivers like Shears, and Cole Schlader fits the script, completing 21 of his 27 throws this year.

“We need to improve our blocking at the line of scrimmage and also down field and in space,” Hasseltrom said. “We will add things throughout the season, so as the playbook grows, the overall understanding from the players will need to improve.”

Lost Rivers sits between the two in the conference standings and is off to a hot start in the team’s debut season.

The Mackay Miners and Butte County Pirates joined forces in the offseason, using their combined efforts to field a team capable of competing. The first-year combination seems to have brought together the best of both squads, as the new-look Pirates deftly secured three straight wins to open the season, scoring more than 45 points in each of their contests.

For the Wilder Wildcats, first place in the Western Idaho Conference did not come easy. The fifth-ranked team in the division began the year with an eight-point nailbiter victory over Horseshoe Bend, then had to endure additional heart-pounding action against Garden Valley. The Wildcats took the D-II Wolverines to overtime, eventually coming out on top 22-14.

It wasn’t until Week 3 did Wilder finally hit its offensive stride, with senior receiver Norman Gonzales hauling in six passes for 114 yards in a score during the Wildcats’ 54-24 route of Salmon River.

Much like the Snake River Conference, the WIC could see a major shakeup Friday, with Wilder and Notus set to do battle. Notus sits at 3-1 on the season after failing to defeat Horseshoe Bend last week. But before that loss, the Pirates had allowed just six points all season while scoring 50 and 59 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively.

Attempting to somehow slow down the offense will be key for both teams, as Notus will rely on the quarterback-seeking missile of Clay Shimondle to help track down Wilder quarterback Pablo Martinez. Martinez can be elusive when necessary, totaling 114 rushing yards on the season. But the pressure capabilities of Shimondle are no joke, with the defensive standout recording three sacks against Cascade.


1ADII Classification

While many Division II teams are searching for their second or third win of the season, Lighthouse Christian has already secured its fourth, the most wins out of any other team in the division. The undefeated Lions overcame the ghosts of last year, shutting out Carey 36-0, the only team to hand the Lions an “L” in 2018.

The Carey Panthers rebounded from that tough Week 3 loss against Camas County with 42-0 shutout of their own. The back-to-back champs behind Head Coach Lane Kirkland average 53 points in each of their wins and have likely their most challenging games behind them.

While Lost Rivers excels in D-I, the co-op of Mullan and St. Regis brings together a pair of cross-state programs from Idaho and Montana.

Senior running back Ian Farris is taking advantage of the chance to continue playing, capitalizing off an All-State season to lead his team to three straight 50-point-plus wins to start the season. A rocky game against Lakeside slowed the Tigers’ momentum, giving their conference rival an edge in the standings.

The Long Pin Conference saw a difficult start to the season, marred with losses across the entire group of six teams. But through the chaos, Horseshoe Bend and Garden Valley established themselves as capable of staying competitive.

The offensive output of the Mustangs improved every week, as Horseshoe Bend rebounded from a 20-12 defeat at the hands of Wilder to rack up 58 points by Week 4.

The Mustang offense rides behind senior running back Austin Fry, who totals 631 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Fry also stands as one of the Mustangs’ top defenders in forced turnovers, but Head Coach Craig Elliot gave the most praise to his offensive line. Calvin Drake, Hunter McKee and Keegan Smith, Elliot said, make nearly all of Fry’s offensive production possible.

“Our three interior offensive linemen are doing a great job blocking for our running backs,” he said. “We are having good success running the ball.  The linemen are doing a good job blocking up front and our running backs are running to daylight.”

Garden Valley, meanwhile, sits at 2-2 on the season, anxious for a chance to overtake Horseshoe Bend in the standings.

To do so, quarterback Corban Fields will have to keep up the breakneck pace he’s maintained over four games, with 12 touchdowns and 962 passing yards keeping the Wolverines afloat in the Long Pin.

Out of Garden Valley’s eight-man offense, Fields has found his favorite target in receiver Covy Kelly, who tallied 650 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, helping the Wolverine offense catch fire in its last two games, where the team scored more than 40 against both Glenns Ferry and Rimrock.

More touchdowns means more chances for extra point attempts, and instead of abandoning the kicking game altogether, Head Coach Jason Yearsley said kicker JD Mendoza has added another dimension to the offense. Mendoza made six of his eight PAT attempts, giving the Mustangs a valuable option should they find themselves in close games down the stretch.

While other Division II teams battle out with their conference rivals, Kendrick stands alone as the only team in the Whitepine Conference to win a game in 2019.

The Tigers are coming off a 62-18 loss against Prairie, but their first three wins of the season were enough to propel them far and away from their conference opponents.

Those wins have a slim chance of being deceiving, as Kendrick begins conference play this week. Quarterback Alex Sneve will have to clean up the offense’s passing game, as he looks to improve the 48.3% completion rate he posted in his first three games.

North Gem and Rockland continue to fight it out in the Rocky Mountain Conference, with an implication-filled game scheduled for the end of the season. North Gem’s offense hasn’t reached the lofty heights of other D-II teams, but Head Coach Dana Strong’s commitment to the run has paid off for players like Michael Barfuss and Logan Corta, who total five touchdowns between them.

But while the running game excels, Barfuss has yet to find rhythm in the passing game, throwing five touchdowns and four interceptions throughout the season. But Strong said Barfuss keeps the teams working together both on and off the field, praising his in-depth football knowledge and coach-like abilities to read a defense and understand the game plan.

“We are still finding ourselves offensively. I love that we have so many parts and so many players that can contribute,” he said. “We do not have to rely on just one or two players to carry us. We installed a new offense and are starting to figure it out.”


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