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State Football Semifinal Previews | 8 Man
Get familiar with every 1A state title contender ahead of this week's semifinal games
Published: 11/14/2019 11:04:33 AM
 

1ADI

Wilder (8-2) vs. Lost Rivers (10-0)

The Pirates came into the season as a newly-formed cooperative team between Butte County and Mackay. But, at 10-0, Lost Rivers proved it's far from a mystery. Meanwhile, Wilder should bring plenty of experience to the playoff matchup, as this year’s senior class has never failed to reach the postseason.

The Wildcats, coached by Kyle DalSoglio, reached the Division-I semifinals last season before being booted by Valley. The team has shown the ability to run the ball with junior Cody Walker, who ran for 732 yards and nine touchdowns, as well as Brandon Aguilera and Moises Perez, who combined for 772 yards. The team’s biggest advantage comes via the air, where 6-foot-4 senior Norman Gonzalez has totaled over 1,200 yards receiving and fifteen scores from senior quarterback Pablo Martinez. Gonzalez is big, has good hands, and runs good routes, while Martinez trusts Gonzalez to go get the ball. The duo was dominant last week against a good Potlatch team, hooking up 10 times for almost 200 yards and two scores, with a third score negated by a penalty.

Lost Rivers is anchored by one of the top two-way players in the state in senior Keyan Cummins. But he’s hardly a one-man show, with Bridger Hansen, Sage Cummins and Brady McAffee alongside him. The Pirates have played just one game decided by fewer than 20 points, a 6-point home win over the Oakley Hornets, who are playing in the other semifinal game this week.

One thing Lost Rivers has done well all season is stymie opposing offenses. Only one team (Valley on Oct. 18) has scored as many as 20 points in a game and on the season the Pirates are allowing an average of just 11 points per game, many of those points scored late in games after the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Oakley (9-1) vs. Prairie (9-0)

It’s approximately 500 miles from Oakley to Moscow, the site of the Hornet’s semifinal playoff matchup against undefeated Prairie, but Oakley is not exactly w

ading into unknown waters when the team heads north.

Dating back to 2014, Oakley has played at the Kibbie Dome five times. So, while this may be Brennan Jones’ first trip as the team’s head coach, he has players who have played on that field multiple times. However, in this rivalry of Division-I heavyweights, home field (or region, so to speak) matters. The two teams have played three playoff games since 2008 at the Kibbie Dome, with Prairie winning all three. Conversely, Oakley is 2-0 against Prairie in playoff matchups held at Pocatello's Holt Arena.

When fully healthy, the Hornets pose all kinds of problems for opponents. Chandler Jones remains one of the state’s most versatile weapons. Josh Nyman is imposing at running back. And with Jace Robinson, Levi Jackson, Isaac Mitton, Caleb Arnell and Austin Cranney, there are a host of contributors to a team that has only been held below 34 points one time on offense and on defense has not allowed a single team to surpass 22 points.

On the other side, Ryan Hasselstrom’s team has only been held below 56 points one time while holding every opponent to 26 points or less. Senior Owen Anderson is making a case for the 1A Division-I state player of the year award with over 600 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns, another four scores receiving, 74 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and four interceptions, usually while playing only parts of games due to lopsided scores. Junior running back Cole Martin has over 1,200 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, senior receiver Derik Shears has 19 receptions – 10 of which have gone for touchdowns. And, for good measure, junior quarterback Cole Schlader has completed 71 percent of his pass attempts with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

1ADII

Kendrick (9-1) vs. Lighthouse Christian (9-0)

A Saturday afternoon matchup inside Pocatello’s Holt Arena features a pair of teams most everyone expected to be here. Lighthouse Christian reached the state championship game last season and has been near the top of the polls all season. Kendrick brought back virtually its entire team that reached the semifinals last fall, ultimately falling to eventual state champion Carey.

It's a matchup of two teams that seem to be trending in opposite directions, health-wise. The unbeaten Lions are banged up. The latest, as reported by the Twin Falls Times News, was senior Tyler Munsee breaking his leg last week against Dietrich. The only loss on the Tigers’ ledger, a 44-point loss to Division-I powerhouse Prairie in September, was played without starting quarterback Alex Sneve and standout Cooper Hewett. Those two are now back.

The good news for Lighthouse Christian is that star pass-catch combo Collin Holloway and Clay Silva are both expected to be at full speed. And, though they’re young (both will be back next season), they’ve also both played on big stages and under bright lights. Another thing Lion fans can point to – the team’s defense allows, on average, just 14 points per game.

Kendrick’s offense, justifiably, has gotten much of the press so far this season after scoring 534 points (remember, an October game at Genesee was ended before halftime due to a power outage). However, the Tigers’ defense has been pretty good in its own right. Without Sneve and Hewett against Prairie, Kendrick surrendered 62 points. In the team’s other nine games, it has allowed a total of 114 points with three shutouts.

Senior Chase Burke has had a monstrous finish to the season for Kendrick, rushing for 565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the team’s last five games. Burke’s strong play has allowed head coach Zane Hobart to ease Hewett back in after he missed five games. Still, Hewett has 500 yards rushing and five scores – on just 23 carries – this season.

Carey (9-1) vs. Garden Valley (7-3)

The Wolverines will host this semifinal matchup at Eagle High School, about 40 miles south of its home field in Garden Valley. While it is one of the most scenic settings for a home field in the entire state, Carey doesn’t need to drive the extra 40 miles this time to see it – the Panthers traveled to Garden Valley in 2018, beating the Wolverines, 74-36.

Dating back to the 2006 season, exactly three programs have won 1A Division-II state titles in football. Salmon River, Lighthouse Christian, and Carey. Lane Kirkland’s Panther team won in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2018. So it’s a program that knows how – and expects – to win big games. Following an uncharacteristic shutout loss to Lighthouse Christian in mid-September, Carey has ripped off seven straight wins by a cumulative score of 442-112 with just one contest in that stretch won by fewer than 42 points.

Is there one player who is the straw that stirs the drink as Carey guns for a third straight Division 2 title? Probably not. Carson Simpson, Hunter Smith, Brigham Parke, Dallin Parke, Porter Larna, there are plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball in the blue and yellow. Simpson had a seven-touchdown game in an October win over Murtaugh and is capable of posting big numbers in any given game.

The Long Pin’s Wolverines, though, have a bit of a three-headed monster on offense. Junior quarterback Corban Fields (31 touchdown passes), senior running back Joaquin Fuhriman (902 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns), and junior receiver Covy Kelly (1,074 receiving yards, 19 touchdowns) lead the way, though junior Devin Yearsley (11 receiving touchdowns) has also been a potent performer on offense. On defense, three players – Kelly, senior Richard Lindstrom, and senior Ryan Briggs – average more than 10 tackles per game.

Garden Valley’s three losses have come to two Division-I teams that are still playing (Oakley, Wilder) and a regular-season defeat at the hands of rival Horseshoe Bend, which was avenged in last week’s quarterfinals.



 
 
 


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