Skyline High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Scott Berger
Years as Head Coach: 9th Season
Previous Experience: 35th season overall as a coach
28 seasons overall at Skyline
3 seasons at Pocatello
1 season at Highland
3 seasons at the University of New Mexico
Record Last Year: 12-0
State Titles: 1985, 1986, 1989, 1992, 2016
Kyler Morgan, RB, senior
Caleb Mayes, WR, senior
Daniel Helsley, OG/DL, senior
Carter Josephson, LB, senior
Tyler Burton, DB, senior
Dylan Kaasa, LT, senior
Key Players lost from last year:
David Ames II, RB
Carson Lott, WR
Bridger Taylor, QB
Brodi Brighton, LB
Photo By: Richard Friess - #80 Caleb Mayes
Incoming impact players:
Nick Layland, LB, junior
Dylan Bialas, QB, senior
Written by: Matt Harris
November 19th, 2016. Albertsons Stadium in Boise. 19 seconds left. Skyline trails 49-48, having just scored a touchdown.
Go for two? Absolutely. The play call? Simple. Hand the ball off to David Ames III and he’ll… throw a jump pass?
While it’s unconventional and Tim Tebow-esque, Ames III found Carson Lott in the end zone and the two of them executed the play to perfection to give the Grizzlies a 50-49 lead. They held off Bishop Kelly’s final frantic attempts to score and walked away with their first state football title since 1992 – and completed the first undefeated season in school history too. They also denied Bishop Kelly’s quest to win a fourth straight state title.
It was the most exciting of the six state championship games played in Idaho that November weekend.
But for head coach Scott Berger, it’s time to move on. The thrill of that experience on the blue turf in Boise was nine months ago. It’s August now. And he wants to make sure his players realize it.
“This is a new year for us,” said the ninth year head coach. “We must work hard and stay focused.”
Clearly, Berger wants none of his players to suffer from a state championship hangover. It’s a new season with new challenges ahead and he wants his players to understand that nothing of what happened last year applies to this season. It’s a whole new ball game.
“Our theme this year is ‘Stay The Course’, meaning to stay focused and play the entire game,” he said.
The Grizzlies will have to for all 48 minutes of every single game – they are the ones with the target on their backs now as the defending state champions. And they better know that EVERYONE is going to come after them with everything they’ve got. Maybe that’s why, as Berger noted, that more players than ever before have participated in their offseason weight program – they know of the burden both physically and figuratively that they each will have to carry.
Many of the key players from their title run last year have moved on, including Lott, Ames III, quarterback Bridger Taylor, and linebacker Brodi Brighton. But a number of players return to try bring another title back to the west side of Idaho Falls.
The offensive line is back this season, led by Daniel Helsley along with Dylan Kaasa, Marley Garcia, Daniel Cabrera, and Kellin Higgins. Senior running back Kyler Morgan will be looked upon to handle duties in the back field, while returning senior Caleb Mayes will be the Grizzlies downfield threat.
But who will orchestrate the offense under center? Insert senior quarterback Dylan Bialas, who received plenty of playing time as a junior courtesy of Skyline’s regular blowout wins during the 2016 season. Berger said he expects Bialas to have a big impact on the offense.
He also added that it would be difficult for Skyline to try to achieve better results on offense than what they did last year.
“It’s hard to improve on what we could do offensively last season,” he said. “But I am excited for this good group of seniors and our rushing attack.”
He’s not wrong. The Grizzlies averaged a whopping 46.7 points per game last season and could score on teams in a myriad of ways – including goal line jump passes.
The defense, on the other hand, was not as dominant as the offense. It was still very good, but Berger noted the improvements he would like to see heading into the 2017 season.
“Eliminating the big play and third down defense are what we hope to improve on,” he said, mentioning also the strength of the front seven and experience in the secondary that the Grizzlies feature.
Look for Helsley to cause a ruckus on the defensive line, with senior Carter Josephson adding to the mayhem in the linebacking corps. Senior defensive back Tyler Burton will certainly make his presence known often in the secondary. Berger added that junior linebacker Nick Layland could have a big year as well.
As with most football coaches, they know that success can’t come if players aren’t on the field.
“Staying healthy is our X-factor to success this season,” Berger said.
The Grizzlies will begin their title defense on the road this year, approximately 7 miles away from their campus, when they face Hillcrest on Aug. 25 at Thunder Stadium. Then, Skyline embarks on a six-game homestand which lasts into October, an oddity for high school football. The Grizzlies will face Rigby on Sept. 1 before opening conference play against Preston on Sept. 7. Skyline then welcomes the Bonneville Bees to Ravsten Stadium on Sept. 15.
Then, it’s the big one. The 53rd edition of the Emotion Bowl against rival Idaho Falls High School on Saturday, Sept. 23, which will be video streamed on IdahoSports.com.
When asked why it’s the must-see game, Berger didn’t need to say much.
“It’s I.F. Enough said.”
The Grizzlies will then round out the homestand on Sept. 29 against Century and Oct. 6 versus Blackfoot. Skyline then finishes the regular season with two road contests – at Pocatello on Oct. 13 and at Madison on Oct. 20.
As for thoughts on their conference, Berger said nothing is a lock.
“Blackfoot is always tough and Idaho Falls is improving,” he said. “Pocatello has some returning talent and Century is well coached and disciplined. Preston is hard to determine because they are an unknown factor.”
Whatever the conference schedule bring the Grizzlies, they’ll be ready. And they’ll be ready to battle to the end to defend their state title.