Conference: 1AD2 District 1-2 White Star League
Classification: 1A D2
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Head Coach: Monty Moddrell
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 1 Season as Assistant at Lewis County
Record Last Year: 5-4
State Titles: None
OL/DL Ray Inglet (Sr)
TE/DL Garrett Nelson (Sr)
Asa Grobey (Sr)
QB Landon Wahl (Jr)
FB/LB Jimmy Barnett (Jr)
OL/DL Danny Parker (Jr)
Key Players lost from last year:
RB Gerry Fischer
OL Mitchell Barnett
DE Daniel Brashear
DB Blake Webster
Written by: Will Hoenike
The Lewis County Eagles, a football-only co-operative team made up of players from Nezperce and Highland (Craigmont), made a small stride in 2016. Now, they’re looking to break through in 2017.
After several years of alternating between two, three and four wins, head coach Monty Moddrell’s squad pushed past the .500 mark last fall, going 5-4 overall. Up next, punching through the glass ceiling to join the upper tier of the 1A Division 2 White Star League.
“I’m excited about the experience we are returning as a team and the culture that this group is beginning to foster,” Moddrell told IdahoSports.com. “They have bought in to the process and worked hard in the offseason, so I am excited to see the result of that dedication and discipline.”
The challenge is not an easy one for the Eagles, who must catch Kendrick, the 1A Division 2 runner-up, and Deary, who came the closest to knocking eventual state champion Salmon River out of the playoffs. Simultaneously, they can’t forget about league rivals like Lakeside, Clark Fork or Kootenai, among others, who assuredly have eyes on a higher prize as well.
The Eagles lose talented running back Gerry Fischer, who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards as a senior, and Mitchell Barnett, a veteran anchor of the team’s offensive and defensive fronts. But the squad does return some key experience. Junior quarterback Landon Wahl returns for Lewis County after passing for 600 yards and seven scores last fall along with starting guards Ray Inglet, a senior, and Danny Parker, a junior. The team also returns senior tight end Garrett Nelson and junior fullback Jimmy Barnett as weapons for an offense that scored over 30 points four times last season.
The same core of players, as is common in 1A 8-man football, makes up the heart of the defense as well. Inglet and Parker will hold down the defensive tackle positions with Nelson providing pass rush from the defensive end. Barnett, who collected 45 tackles as a sophomore, is expected to be one of the team’s key tacklers from the linebacker position and Moddrell expects an increased role for senior Asa Grobey, who was the Scout Team Player of the Year as a junior.
The team does have opportunity for younger players, including a good group of freshmen and sophomores that will push the upper classmen for playing time.
“I saw some things at camp this summer that I was impressed with from some younger guys,” Moddrell said. “I am hopeful that they can step up to the challenge of competing at this level and fill some voids.”
The level that Moddrell refers to is a strong conference. Kendrick (2016) and Deary (2015) have each played in the 1A Division 2 state championship game in the past two seasons. And the Eagles get to face those two teams in back-to-back weeks, traveling to Kendrick on September 8 and then returning home to Highland High in Craigmont (the Eagles split their home games between Craigmont and Nezperce) to face Deary on September 15. The team wraps up the regular season with an afternoon kickoff in Nezperce on October 27 against what looks to be a tough Lakeside squad as well.
Still, the Eagles enter the 2017 season ready to accept the challenge.
“We have five returning starters offensively and will be looking this fall for some young guys to step up,” Moddrell concluded. “Our biggest strength is that we have maintained some of our experience.”
The experience for Lewis County is trending the right direction, from two wins in 2014 to three wins in 2015 to last season’s 5-4 season. Is the positive momentum enough to push them toward the top of the White Star League in 2017? Stay healthy, avoid untimely mistakes and … stay tuned. As the old saying goes, “that’s why they play the game.”