Nampa Christian High School
Conference: 2A Western Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Cassidy Kotte
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: Nampa Christian Defensive Coordinator (2 seasons)
Kuna Linebackers Coach (2 seasons)
Record Last Year: 4-6
Rocky Mouw (OC)
Mike Johnson (Special Teams)
Daniel Jenkins (RBs/DBs)
Tom Hickey (OL/DL)
Manny Mtika (WRs/S)
Doug Anders (JV)
OL/LB Andrew Hilty (Sr)
OL/DL Tyler Black (Sr)
OL/DL Kamden Brothers (Sr)
TE/DL Dusty Rhodes (Sr)
DL/FB Wyatt Walker (Sr)
RB/LB Braxton Bujak
RB/DB Jacob Englar (Sr)
QB Cade Kropf (Sr)
WR/DB Isaiah Cass (Jr)
WR/DB Michael “Scotty” Miller (Jr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Bujak, All-WIC and 2A All-State
Key Players lost from last year:
QB/DB Nick Tuttle
WR/DB Josh DeJong
Photo By: Patty Theurer - #45 Braxton Bujak
Written by: Will Hoenike
It’s a good thing first-year head coach Cassidy Kotte was on the coaching staff at Nampa Christian last season, so he already has a lay of the land in the 2A Western Idaho Conference.
Otherwise, by mid-September, he might think his team is actually a member of the Central Idaho League.
In a scheduling coincidence, the Trojans will play as many CIL teams as … well … all of the other CIL teams. In the season’s first three weeks, Nampa Christian will host Grangeville in the season-opener and travel to Orofino – two of the three CIL teams – in week three.
But Kotte knows when conference play begins – the very next week, September 22, at New Plymouth.
“It is our conference opener,” Kotte told IdahoSports.com. “Win or lose, it will be a good measuring stick of our progress during the pre-season.”
Kotte served as the team’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons under departed head coach Jerry Smith. This fall’s team has the makings of a solid defense in what appears to be a deep and talented Western Idaho Conference.
It starts with senior Braxton Bujak. Bujak was selected second-team All-State as a junior as well as All-Western Idaho Conference. The play-making linebacker will lead a fairly experienced defensive front that will also include senior nose tackle Wyatt Walker, senior defensive linemen Tyler Black and Dusty Rhodes and senior defensive end Kamden Brothers. The team also returns three players with experience in the secondary: senior Jacob Englar and juniors Isaiah Cass and Scotty Miller. Kotte likes the speed and sheer athleticism in the secondary behind that defensive front and indicated that good discipline and good tackling could push this group over the top as a top-shelf defensive group.
As you’d expect in 2A, many of the same players play on both sides of the football. The Trojans must replace departed veteran quarterback Nick Tuttle. Stepping in to do the honors is senior Cade Kropf. He won’t have all-state receiver Josh DeJong to throw to, but he will have Englar and Bujak to hand the ball to.
Where that is especially beneficial is this: Kotte sees the team’s offensive line as a strength. Strong line plus solid running backs with speed and athleticism could equal big numbers on the scoreboard for the Trojans. Tyler Black, Kamden Brothers and Andrew Hilty lead the offensive front along with Dusty Rhodes, who will play tight end. Running the ball effectively and limiting turnovers will be pivotal for the Trojans offense.
When the Trojans do go to the air, Kropf has Cass and Miller lined up outside as receivers.
The Western Idaho Conference figures to be wide open in 2017. McCall, Cole Valley Christian and New Plymouth, just like Nampa Christian, each return key players from last fall. Melba and Marsing each have new direction and new energy in the form of new head coaches. Nampa Christian gets McCall and Marsing at home and will have to travel to New Plymouth, Melba and Cole Valley Christian (who plays its home games at nearby Meridian High School).
The battle for seeding (and playoff berths) literally came down to the final week last season with four of the six qualifying for the first round. It seems likely that the WIC will be just as tight and likely more talented in 2017 than it was in 2016. If Nampa Christian (who was one of the four playoff teams last fall) can stay healthy and take care of the football, it seems likely the Trojans have a very good shot of playing football in November.