Hillcrest High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Jeff Marshall
Years as Head Coach: 5th Season
Previous Experience: 30 Years
Record Last Year: 3-6
State Titles: 2008
Dalton Clark, QB, 12
Oakley Hussey, WR, 11
Derek Marlowe, WR, 12
Devin Wernette, WR, 12
Caleb Thueson, DE, 12
Jordan Neuerburg, RB, 11
Easton Lambson, LB, 12
Justin Moore, FB, 12
Cooper Nebeker, TE, 12
Brady Sainz, LB, 11
Key Players lost from last year:
Bowen Oswald, RB/WR/DB/P/K
Written by: Matt Harris
Some of us take being healthy for granted.
Last season, Hillcrest battled injuries practically before fall camp even started. By the time Week 3 rolled around with their rivalry game against Bonneville, the Knights had shuffled around many players in both their offense and defense just to try and make up for it. We may not have seen the potential of the team merely because of injury.
In 2017, the Knights are hoping that they can avoid injury and see what they can accomplish with everyone in their original positions. And on the offensive side of the ball, they might be able to have a break out season.
“We bring back most of our receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks this year,” said head coach Jeff Marshall, now in his fifth season at the helm of the program. “So far, we are reading defenses better and making good decisions.”
Back in the fold for Hillcrest this year are several players who are expected to not only make an impact, but lead the charge for the Knights. They include senior quarterback Dalton Clark, who will be paired in the backfield with junior running back Jordan Neuerburg and senior fullback Justin Moore. Clark will have plenty of weapons on the outside as seniors Derek Marlowe and Devin Wernette along with junior Oakley Hussey give Hillcrest a downfield threat. Senior Cooper Nebeker will occupy the tight end position and be a target for Clark as well.
Marshall said that he would like to see his team improve in the run game this season. Injuries decimated Hillcrest’s ability to run in 2016.
“We also need to stay healthy up front on the lines,” he said. “We have a lot of skill on the offensive side and we understand the scheme.”
On the defensive side of the ball, several players return for the Knights, including senior defensive end Caleb Thueson who is expected to help anchor the line. Easton Lambson will be looked upon for leadership and the duo of Brady Sainz and Justin Moore will aid the front seven from their linebacker positions. Marshall said that Kyle Austin and Kanon Young will also have an impact.
“We should have decent team speed as well,” he said. “The kids are excited about the defense we are running and our staff is doing a good job of getting our kids prepared.”
The staff has also been emphasizing the team’s motto, which is ‘Be Great!’.
“We want to ‘Be Great’ as a team and as individuals,” said Marshall. “To be great, you have to do something great.”
Hillcrest’s preparation will be tested early in the season when they host the defending 4A state champion Skyline Grizzlies to open the year on Aug. 25. The team will then continue their three-game homestand against Blackfoot on Sept. 1, followed by a date with archrival Bonneville on Sept. 8 in the 26th Civil War.
“That’s a must-see game for us,” Marshall said. “It’s a playoff-like atmosphere.”
A win in the Civil War would mark a fourth-straight victory over their district counterparts and it would also mean that the Knights’ seniors will have never tasted defeat at the hands of Bonneville. It would also score Hillcrest a key win in the conference standings. The game will be video streamed live on IdahoSports.com.
Following the Civil War, the red-and-black will make the long journey north to Coeur d’Alene in District 1 to take on the Lake City Timberwolves on Sept. 16, before returning home to face the Madison Bobcats in a big conference battle on Sept. 22. Hillcrest rounds out the September schedule on the road at Twin Falls on Sept. 29.
October opens with another key conference game when the Knights host the Rigby Trojans on Oct. 6. Hillcrest will then finish the regular season on the road at Idaho Falls on Oct. 13 and at Highland on Oct. 20.
Marshall had high praise for his conference counterparts.
“Highland and Madison are the teams to beat. They have great programs with great athletes,” he said. “That being said, Rigby has a new coach with great experience and Bonneville is starting their second year with their coach and they have put together a nice staff.”
Could this be the year that the Knights break through and reach the postseason? The key to it may be keeping as many players as possible healthy. If they can do that, Hillcrest stands a very good chance at getting back to the playoffs.