Prairie High School
Conference: 1AD1 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Ryan Hasselstrom
Years as Head Coach: 13th Season
Previous Experience: 13 seasons, including previous stint as PHS head coach
Record Last Year: 7-3
State Titles: 2008, 2014
RB/DB Jacob Stubbers (Sr)
OL/LB Jace Perrin (Sr)
OL/DE Jayce Huling (Sr)
QB/DE Spencer Schumacher (Jr)
RB/LB Caleb McWilliams (Jr)
OL/DL Carson Schmidt (Jr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Schumacher – 1st-team All-White Pine DE, 2nd-team All-White Pine QB
Key Players lost from last year:
LB/RB Brandon Anderson
RB/DB Lucas Wemhoff
Photo By: Mark Borth - #12 Spencer Schumacher
Written by: Will Hoenike
A lot of eyes are already on Prairie’s September 1st game on the road at Genesee.
It won’t determine the champion of the uber-tough White Pine League, but it could very well set the stage for the rest of the season.
“They (Genesee) will be tough this season,” Prairie head coach Ryan Hasselstrom told IdahoSports.com. “That opening league game will have some playoff implications, I would think.”
Most think, with good reason, that Prairie will be plenty tough itself this season. Hasselstrom will have to replace departed seniors Brandon Anderson and Lucas Wemhoff, who each excelled on both sides of the ball, but there are plenty of beebees left in the holster in Cottonwood.
It starts with junior quarterback and defensive end Spencer Schumacher. As a sophomore, Schumacher threw for over 1,200 yards and didn’t throw an interception until the final game of the regular season. He added another 400 yards and ten scores rushing the ball. He goes into this season with a full season’s worth of experience and growth under his belt, which should only mean good things.
Joining him in the backfield will be senior Jacob Stubbers and junior Caleb McWilliams. Though neither carried the ball a ton (McWilliams 19 times, Stubbers 17 times) last season, largely due to the presence of Wemhoff and Anderson, both saw a lot of playing time and should be primed to step into larger roles this fall. In fact, Stubbers finished third on the team in receiving yards and had a touchdown reception as a junior.
The Pirates also return ample experience up front with the return of seniors Jayce Huling and Jace Perrin along with junior Carson Schmidt. Those three should provide good protection for Schumacher and good running lanes for Stubbers and McWilliams (among others). It doesn’t seem a stretch to say the Pirates seem capable to pick up right where they left off last season, when they averaged nearly 50 points per game, topping 60 points four times during a six-game mid-season winning streak.
“(We are) hoping to be able to control the line of scrimmage and control the ball on offense,” Hasselstrom continued. “We will still try to play an up-tempo style but we need to make good decisions throughout the game.”
Defensively, it starts with McWilliams, who led the team in tackles last season from his linebacker position. The team also has a solid defensive front with Schumacher and Huling, which can make it easier for McWilliams to roam from his linebacker position to chase ball-carriers. Hasselstrom and his staff will be looking for some new players to plug holes left by the departing seniors and make an impact, but there is optimism that the pieces are already there.
“Great group of players,” Hasselstrom said to describe his team. “(We) had a good summer camp so we are looking forward to a new group of players coming together and giving us a shot at making a playoff run again.”
In recent years, playoff runs have been the norm in Cottonwood. With two state titles in the past decade, a third title appearance (2015) and a semifinal appearance in 2013, it has become common to see Prairie’s name on the 1A Division 1 state playoff bracket each fall. There’s no doubt the White Pine will again be tough – Genesee seems primed for a good season, Troy brings a solid team to the table and Lapwai brings back plenty of solid athletes from last season’s league-championship team – but Prairie should be right in the mix for a playoff berth, if not an outright White Pine League title.
To do it, though, the Pirates will have to be road warriors. The teams mentioned above (Genesee, Troy and Lapwai) were mentioned for a reason – Prairie faces all three teams on the road in 2017. The Pirates will also face Clearwater Valley and Wallace, neither of which are a pushover, away from home.
Stay healthy, take care of business at home and be a tough “out” on the road. It’s the road map for almost any 8-man football team in Idaho. It will be fun to see how Prairie does.