Soda Springs High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Cliff Garbett
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: Assistant coaching stints at Pocatello and Twin Falls, head coach at O’Leary Middle School.
Record Last Year: 1-8
State Titles: None
Andrew Stewart, RB/LB
Hunter Bybee, OL/DL
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
Last season was a transitionary phase for the Soda Springs Cardinals. A lot of new faces. A new coach. A new system. Not a lot of experience.
This year, the Cardinals are set to ascend in an upward trajectory thanks to the growing pains and lessons learned from last year’s 1-8 season.
Cliff Garbett, now in his second year as head coach of the Cardinals, knows that the hard work put in by his team over the summer will pay dividends down the line.
“We had some of the team working hard in the weight room over the summer,” he said.
2015 was a youth movement from Soda Springs. They played several players with little experience in key positions. Graduated quarterback Devin Adams took on a significant load in the offense, starting every game and threw for 550 yards overall while rushing for 183 yards. Running back Tanner Meyers rushed for 346 yards and running back Dillon Farnes chipped in 130 yards overall. The Cardinals averaged only 8.5 points per game, scoring seven points or less in games six times.
Garbett and his staff are hoping that the lessons learned from last year’s struggles will help springboard them into improvement during the 2016 season.
“We won’t be as young this year,” he said. “We will have some athletes with experience and some quickness this year. Our guys up front are getting better. We are working to improve our fundamentals overall.”
Defensively, the Cardinals will look to improve on their 2015 performance where they gave up an average of 39.8 points per contest.
Andrew Stewart, who recorded 42 tackles last season, will lead out from the linebacker position. Garbett said that Hunter Bybee, a junior, could make a big impact at defensive line this year as well. Overall improvement in fundamentals has helped the Cardinals heading into camp.
“We’ve improved at swarming to the football,” he said. “That is a strength for us this year.”
Garbett is excited for the potential of his team in 2016. His team’s motto this year is “Be The Best You Can Be”, and he hopes his players embrace it not only on the field, but off the field.
“I look forward to our team continuing to get better and improve as players, but more importantly as people,” he said. “We can have success as a team if we come together and play as one.”
Soda Springs will have to come together as one quickly… they get thrown into the proverbial fire quickly in the 2016 season. The Cardinals open up on the road at defending Nuclear Conference champion West Jefferson before hosting Firth in Week 2. It’s then a two-game road trip for Soda Springs as they play at Ririe and at 3A American Falls. Conference play then opens up as the Cardinals host perennial contender West Side on September 23rd, followed by a trip to Malad. Soda Springs finishes the season with two difficult games against Bear Lake and Aberdeen, albeit at home.
“Bear Lake is greatly improved this season,” Garbett said. “Our conference is tough all-around. Aberdeen was the state runner-up the last two years, so it will be tough as always.”
The 2A South East Idaho Conference is regarded as one of the best 2A conferences in the state. While the competition is strong, don’t be surprised to see Soda Springs making their mark and potentially surprising a few teams.