Butte County High School
Conference: Sawtooth Conference East Division
Classification: 1A D2
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Head Coach: Sam Thorngren
Years as Head Coach: 11th Season
Record Last Year: 8-4
State Titles: None
Brett Waymire, QB/DB, senior
Keyan Cummins, RB/LB, sophomore
Ty Twitchell, RB/LB, junior
Kalib Hawley, OL/DL, senior
Dakota Anderson, OL/DL, sophomore
Bryson Gunter, OL/DL, sophomore
Dylan Beard, TE/LB, senior
Brady McAffee, RB/LB, sophomore
Bridger Hansen, QB/DB, sophomore
Grant Waddoups-Hamm, WR/DB, senior
Sage Cummins, WR/DB, sophomore
Sheldon Babcock, OL/DL, junior
Juan Saptiem, OL/LB, junior
Rugar Stamos, OL/DL, sophomore
Kade McAffee, OL/DL, junior
Dallin Shreiber, OL/DL, junior
Returning Players with Honors:
Brett Waymire – First Team All-Conference QB
Kalib Hawley – First Team All-Conference C
Keyan Cummins – Second Team All-Conference RB
Dylan Beard – Second Team All-Conference LB
Key Players lost from last year:
Landen Gamett – Conference Offensive Player of the Year
Jessie McAlevy – First Team All-Conference OL/DL, Second Team All-State DL
Incoming impact players:
Written by: Matt Harris
Flash back to the conclusion of Week Four last season.
The Butte County Pirates has just been beaten by North Gem 30-14. The Pirates were 1-3 through their first four games of the year. And it would have been tough to convince many people that the team would be a state semifinalist just two months later.
But indeed they were. Butte County won their final five games of the regular season, then blew past Lighthouse Christian in the play-in round before upsetting heavy favorite Dietrich 28-26 in the quarterfinals. While their magical ride came to an end at the hands of Kendrick in the semifinals, the young Pirates squad had begun to realize their potential.
And now, that young Pirates team will return a wealth of experience and talent to the field this season and hope to capitalize on their playoff run from last year and build it into a special season in 2017.
“We played a lot of young guys last year, so this is an experienced team,” said Butte County head coach Sam Thorngren, now in his 11th season leading the Pirates. “I’m probably most excited about seeing how much growth has occurred since last season. We have some good leaders in this senior class, and I think we’re going to be a team that understands the importance of playing for each other rather than individual achievement.”
The Pirates return senior All-Conference quarterback Brett Waymire into the fold this season. He will play a major role directing the Butte County Wing-T offense. Sophomore Keyan Cummins and junior Ty Twitchell will team up in the backfield, with Brady McAffee seeing time at the position as well.
The receivers are led by senior Grant Waddoups-Hamm, who will work alongside sophomore receiver Sage Cummins and senior tight end Dylan Beard to give the Pirates an aerial threat.
Up front, the orange-and-black bring back plenty of experience on the line with senior Kalib Hawley anchoring the protection. He is joined by juniors Dallin Shreiber, Kade McAffee, Juan Saptiem, and Sheldon Babcock. Also expect to see sophomores Dakota Anderson, Bryson Gunter, and Rugar Stamos have an impact. Having a good amount of linemen will certainly aid the Pirates quest to play smash mouth football.
“We pride ourselves on being able to run the ball,” said Thorngren. “We have a stable of ball carriers this season and we will use them all.”
Thorngren added that Ty Twitchell was an unexpected revelation at running back towards the end of last season.
“Ty’s first start at running back was in the playoffs last year against Lighthouse Christian in the first round. He responded with over 200 yards rushing,” he said. “He also made some big plays in our second-round matchup against Dietrich. He is a running and receiving threat.”
The coach added that Kalib Hawley is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line.
“Kalib has been our most consistent offensive lineman for the last two years,” he said. “He can play center or guard and he knows everyone’s blocking assignments.”
The Pirates are also hoping that with a returning senior quarterback they can add a couple more elements to their offense.
“We hope to improve our play action passing game,” said Thorngren.
Butte County will be without the services of a couple of standout players this season due to graduation: All-State defensive lineman Jessie McAlevy and Landen Gamett, the Sawtooth East Division’s Offensive Player of the Year.
“We are going to miss Landen’s leadership and ability to play any position. He stepped in at quarterback and led our playoff run to the semifinals after Brett was injured in our last regular season game,” said Thorngren. “Jessie was a major factor on both sides of the ball and we will miss his size and strength in the middle.”
On the defensive side of the ball, plenty of players return for Butte County. The group of Hawley, Anderson, Gunter, Babcock, Stamos, Shreiber and Kade McAffee will comprise the defensive line and look to disrupt opposing offenses. The quintet of Twitchell, Beard, Saptiem, Keyan Cummins and Brady McAffee will look to anchor the linebacking corps.
A solid group of defensive backs including Waymire, Waddoups-Hamm, Sage Cummins, and sophomore Bridger Hansen will fortify the secondary for the Pirates.
“Team speed is a definite strength for us,” said Thorngren. “We have some smart kids who are versatile and that allows us to show multiple defensive looks. Our players understand the importance of pursuit and turnovers.”
He added that the challenge they face on defense is the same one that all 8-man football teams face.
“We want to prevent the big play and force teams to sustain long drives,” the head coach said. “It’s always the challenge in 8-man football.”
Another challenge for small school football programs? Health and depth.
“Injuries are going to happen, so we are going to need some guys to step up and produce when called upon,” said Thorngren.
Butte County begins the season with two straight non-conference games. They’ll begin on the road in District 3 on Aug. 25 when they face the Idaho City Wildcats. The team will then return home to face the Grace Grizzlies on Sept. 1 in what should be an excellent game.
The conference slate then opens for the Pirates in Week 3 when they travel to Fort Hall to take on the Sho-Ban Chiefs on Sept. 8. Sho-Ban revived their program mid-way through the 2016 season after not fielded a team since 2012. Butte County then hosts Rockland in a key league matchup which could play a big factor in seeding for the state tournament.
Following a bye week on Sept. 22, the orange-and-black return to action at home against Watersprings on Sept. 29. The Pirates will then travel northward on Highway 93 to face their old rivals, the Mackay Miners, on Oct. 6. Mackay is playing a full varsity schedule for the first time since 2014. Butte County then finishes the regular season schedule on the road at Clark County on Oct. 13 and at home against North Gem on Oct. 20. The North Gem contest is slated to be video streamed on IdahoSports.com.
“We are in a tough conference. I think we have three or four teams in this conference that are capable of making some noise in the playoffs,” Thorngren said. “Every team in the conference is well coached, so we are going to have to be on top of our game each and every week.”
As for the fans, Thorngren said that while all games are important, there are a few that standout for various reasons.
“You can take your pick in terms of a must-see game. Grace is a talented 1A Division-I team that will prove to be a difficult matchup. Rockland has to be considered one of the conference favorites since they return almost their entire team. Mackay is one of our traditional rivals and will be more talented than people realize. And North Gem is the returning conference champion and has some good kids back.”
If the Pirates can stay healthy and build on the momentum they gained from the end of last season, this Butte County football team could find themselves playing deep into November – and vying for their first ever state football championship.