Rigby High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Randy Waite
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: Served in various positions at Ontario, La Grande, Roseburg, Hermiston, and Weston-McEwen High Schools – all in Oregon
Record Last Year: 7-4
State Titles: None
Chris Barber, OL, Sr.
Easton Riley, OL, Sr.
Sebastian Tafolla, OL, Jr.
Nate Franz, OL/DL, Soph.
Braden Perrenoud, TE/DL, Sr.
Camden Peterson, OL/DL, Sr.
Trevor Orr, LB, Jr.
Bradley Hahn, RB/DB, Jr.
Michael Kinsy, RB/DB, Jr.
Returning Players with Honors:
Chris Barber – 1st Team All Conference
Easton Riley – HM All Conference
Nate Franz – 2nd Team All Conference
Braden Perrenoud – HM All Conference
Camden Peterson – HM All Conference
Trevor Orr – HM All Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
Hayden Livingston, QB
Solo Taylor, LB
Bo Byington, DB
Cody Heath, DB/WR
Photo By: Brad Barlow - #78 Nate Franz
Incoming impact players:
Braden Youngstrong , RB, Jr.
Robbie Larsen, WR, Jr.
Duke Golder, WR, Sr.
Austin Good, WR, Jr.
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
It’s been said that “change is good”. And while that certainly applies to many facets of life, it in no way means that change is easy.
This season, the Rigby Trojans along with head coach Randy Waite will head into a new era of football in Jefferson County – one that includes a classification change and the departure of stud players on both sides of the ball.
Rigby moves into the 5A classification this season for the first time ever and will also join new conference-mates Highland, Madison, Bonneville and Hillcrest in the battle for three playoff berths to the state tournament. Two of those teams, Highland and Madison, both reached the state semi-finals in 2015. Hillcrest barely missed out.
“Highland is the front-runner this year until someone beats them,” Waite said, “but I believe Madison, Bonneville, and Hillcrest will all be good too.”
Rigby will certainly have to adjust to their new conference home – but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be prepared for what’s coming their way.
“We’ve competed well over the summer and are ready to go for fall camp,” said Waite, now in his fourth season leading the Trojans.
Preparation has been key in Waite’s time in Rigby. Since he took over the head coaching duties, the daily preparation that the players – and the coaching staff, for that matter – has increased dramatically. The results have shown on the field.
In 2013, Rigby won seven games and had a winning record for the first time since 1999. The Trojans went 6-5 in 2014 while reaching the state semi-finals for the first time since 1999 as well. Rigby then went 7-4 last season, falling to eventual state runner-up Sandpoint 31-22 in a muddy affair in northern Idaho.
The trajectory for Trojans’ football has risen significantly over the last three seasons. The big question now is: will that trajectory continue on its upward course this season with new personnel and a new conference mixed in?
The offense will look a bit different than the three previous years in Rigby as quarterback Hayden Livingston (the only starting quarterback Waite has known while in Rigby) has graduated and moved on to college football at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. One of Livingston’s favorite targets, wide receiver/defensive back Cody Heath, also graduated and is now playing at the University of LaVerne, an NCAA Division-III school in California.
However, the cupboard is not bare. White Waite wouldn’t name a starter at quarterback, many other offensive positions for the Trojans will be filled by those who have varying degrees of game experience.
The offensive line returns several players including 1st Team All-High Country Conference selection Chris Barber, a senior, along with 2nd Team All-High Country Conference selection Nate Franz, a sophomore. Also joining them on the line are junior Sebastian Tafolla, senior Easton Riley, and senior Camden Peterson.
Running behind Rigby’s line will be returning junior running backs Bradley Hahn and Michael Kinsy. Junior Braden Youngstrom will round out the running back trio. Braden Perrenoud, a senior, returns as a big pass-catching threat from the tight end position.
The wide receivers core will be impacted by the play of senior Duke Golder and juniors Austin Good and Robbie Larsen. None played major roles last season, but Waite expects them to break out this year.
“For us this season, if we can run the football effectively and pass with efficiency, we will have success,” he said. “Our run game is going to be by committee.”
The Trojans averaged 31.1 points per game over 11 contests last season. Of the 47 touchdowns scored by the offense, 28 of them came on the ground. Only two touchdowns were scored by running backs returning to the squad this year. Indeed, the ground game will be a key point for Rigby.
Defensively, the Trojans will have to replace quite a few significant pieces as they did on offense. The biggest void to be filled will be at linebacker where Solo Taylor wreaked havoc on anyone who came in his path. The Boise State walk-on led the area two-consecutive years in total tackles and had a nose to find the ball carrier quickly. Also departed is lockdown defensive back Bo Byington, who is now playing at Eastern Oregon University.
Franz, Perrenoud, and Peterson all return to the defensive line while junior linebacker Trevor Orr will look to make his presence felt and help lead the front seven. Hahn and Kinsy will see time at defensive back as well for the Trojans.
Even with the returning players on defense, Waite sees a lot of room for improvement.
“Defensively, our strengths lie in running to the ball and playing ‘swarm’ defense”, he said, “but we have to improve at getting off the field on third down.”
At times last season, Rigby would play excellent defense on first and second down, sometimes forcing the opposition into negative yardage. But on third down, the Trojans would allow a big play to their opponent, thereby giving them a fresh set of downs. Yet, despite that, Rigby gave up only 17.9 points per game.
A big key for the Trojans, as it seemingly is with most teams in high school football, will be health. Waite pointed to that as an ‘X-Factor’ to their season.
Even with the Trojans move up to 5A and the potential thrilling matchups that accompany it (like a reunion with upper valley rival Madison), Waite said to watch out for a non-conference game that could be among the best in Week 2.
“Our must-see game this year is against Skyline,” he said. “They are going to be a great football team.”
Rigby opens up their season on August 27th as they will participate for the first time in the Rocky Mountain Rumble against Syracuse, Utah. Following the Skyline game, the Trojans will trek westward for a date against the Kuna Kavemen followed by another road game at Minico. Rigby then hosts 4A rival Blackfoot for Homecoming on September 23rd and then begins their conference schedule at archrival Madison. The Trojans then finish the regular season at home against Hillcrest, at Holt Arena to face Highland, and home against Bonneville on October 21st.
While it is a year of transition somewhat for the Trojans, they are equipped to handle what comes their way, despite their youth. Their mentality ever since Waite arrived in Rigby has been summed up in four words: “So What, Now What.”
“What that means to us is that we don’t let the past affect us… we just play the next down and move on,” Waite said, who added that he’s excited to watch his junior class grow up and compete on the varsity level.
Change is good. Change isn’t easy. But change is necessary to help one truly achieve their potential. We will see how well Rigby can endure change this season.