Melba High School
Conference: 2A Western Idaho Conference
Share preview with friends!
Head Coach: Juan Colunga
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: Ass’t, Wilder
Ass’t, West Jefferson
Head Coach, Columbia
Head Coach, Rimrock
Ass’t, Marsh Valley
Record Last Year: 5-4
State Titles: 1991 and 2002
WR/DB Dallin Forsgren (Jr)
RB/DB Scott Martinez (Soph)
QB/WR/DB Tim Reinertson (Jr)
LB/WR Kobe Phillips (Sr)
OL/DL/K Larry Alvarez (Sr)
TE/LB Tyrell Martin (Jr)
RB/DE Isiah Nichols (Jr)
OL/DL Levi Martin (Jr)
Key Players lost from last year:
OL/DL Scott Orr
OL/DL Mitch Olsen
OL/DL Francisco Alvarez
QB/S Eli Bangerter
Photo By: Steve Conner - #1 Scotty Martinez
Incoming impact players:
OL/DL Colby Dunn (Jr)
LB/RB Zayne Dayley (Jr)
RB/DB John Reiber (Soph)
LB/FB Easton Bunnell (Soph)
OL/DL Manuel Dominguez (Soph)
DE/TE Henry Clark (Fr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
Back in 2002, the Melba Mustangs won their last state championship in football. One of the key players in helping the Mustangs reach the top of the pile – Juan Colunga.
Fast forward to 2017. Melba is looking to re-gain “king of the hill” status, and they’ll do it with a first-year head coach – Juan Colunga.
Make no mistake. It may be Colunga’s first season as the head coach of his alma mater but he returns to Canyon County with a bevy of coaching experience, with stints in Marsh Valley, West Jefferson, Rimrock, Columbia and Wilder, serving as the head coach at both 1A Rimrock and 4A Columbia. And he has clear goals in what he’d like to see from the red and white-clad Mustangs.
“Learn to play as a team and learn how to do it the right way,” Colunga told IdahoSports.com. “Young kids must grow, improve and gain confidence as the year progresses. If we can do that, we will give ourselves a chance to compete with the top teams in the conference.”
He and his staff will have to begin by rebuilding an offensive line that loses three talented starters. Levi Martin should return to claim one spot along the front, then it is wide open for players to earn opportunities. Junior Colby Dunn and sophomore Manuel Dominguez have made early strides and continued growth will be critical to Melba’s success as Colunga looks to shift the team to a ball-control, ground-based attack.
“Our offensive strength will be based on the growth and cohesion of the offensive line,” Colunga said. “Must be able to fire off the ball, be tough and physical up front.”
He’ll also have to replace veteran starting quarterback Eli Bangerter, who graduated last spring. He says he has multiple candidates working for the position and it appears likely the battle will continue well into camp before the season opener.
What Melba appears to have is a plethora of capable ball-carriers in the backfield. Sophomore Scott Martinez saw time on varsity as a freshman while juniors Dallin Forsgren and Tim Reintertson both have experience with the ball as wide receivers last season. Colunga is also anxious to see junior Zayne Dayley, sophomore John Reiber and sophomore Easton Bunnell in pads this fall as well.
Defensively, the coaching staff expects a quick defense that must be strong tacklers for the Mustangs to have success in the deep Western Idaho Conference. Dunn and Dominguez are competing for playing time up front with defensive end Isiah Nichols while Dayley and Bunnell will jockey for playing time with anticipated returning starters Kobe Phillips and Tyrell Martin at linebacker.
It’s a defensive core that didn’t allow a single WIC foe to score more than 21 points against the Mustangs last fall. Only two of the team’s seven opponents managed to eclipse that number – 3A Homedale and eventual 2A state champion St. Maries in the state playoffs – and Melba’s defense pitched three shutouts.
The 2A Mustangs open with three consecutive games against 3A foes, two of which are on the road, before settling in to Western Idaho Conference play. It figures to be a tough conference this season, with Nampa Christian, New Plymouth, Cole Valley Christian and McCall all returning key pieces of their respective teams. Marsing, like Melba, has a new head coach and high energy coming into the football season.
If you’re a believer in home-field advantage, the WIC schedule is favorable for Melba. The Mustangs will host Cole Valley Christian, Nampa Christian and New Plymouth while venturing on the road to face McCall and Marsing. Easier said than done, but … take care of business at home and split on the road? That’d be a 4-1 conference slate with some impressive WIC wins. You have to think the Mustang faithful would be excited with that.
The Mustangs appear more than capable of being squarely in the mix for a 2A state playoff spot this fall. Colunga has his players focusing on putting the team first, working hard and growing as a team.
Colunga has won a state championship as a player in Melba. You know he’d love to be part of the group to bring another one back, this time as a coach.