Clearwater Valley High School
Conference: 1AD1 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Roger Whalen
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 46 years, most recently in Anaheim, CA
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
OL/DL Sean Nelson (Sr)
OL/DL Wade Schilling (Sr)
DL Zane Summers (Sr)
LB/TE Carson Morrow (Sr)
Key Players lost from last year:
QB Mitchell Morrow
RB/LB Zack Krieger
RB/LB Trey Pfefferkorn
OL/DL Keiran Owens
OL/DL Dawson Fisher
OL/LB Taylor Roy
Incoming impact players:
RB/LB Bubba Summers (Soph)
RB/LB Ty Dominguez (Soph)
QB/DB Tyce Pfefferkorn (Soph)
TE/DE Tate Pfefferkorn (Soph)
Written by: Will Hoenike
When Kolby Krieger stepped aside from the head coaching position at Clearwater Valley High School over the summer, the search for his replacement began. Little did anyone know the search would end in southern California.
That’s where Roger Whalen, a veteran of 46 years coaching football in places like Las Vegas, caught wind of the job opening and, looking for a quality-of-life move, submitted an application.
The change in lifestyle from suburban Los Angeles to the mountains of Kooskia, Idaho, is immense. But Krieger and the Rams were happy to find such a qualified replacement.
Whalen arrived in town in early August, inheriting a competitive team that hung tough in the ultra-competitive White Pine League in 2016 but graduated a deep senior class that included all-conference running backs Trey Pfefferkorn and Zack Krieger. It’s tough to see that group depart at Clearwater Valley but Whalen found himself a good sophomore class to build around.
The Rams have three returners who saw time along the offensive and defensive lines, which is key. Sean Nelson, Wade Schilling and Zane Summers will help form the heart of the team’s offense and defense along with senior LB/TE Carson Morrow. How that quartet performs opening running lanes on offense and shutting down running lanes on defense will go a long way in determining what kind of season the Rams have in 2017.
The skill positions will be largely filled by Whalen’s talented group of sophomore group,. Tyce Pfefferkorn is battling for the starting quarterback position while Bubby Summers and Ty Dominguez will look to replace Krieger and Pfefferkorn (Trey) in the backfield for the Rams. Then another Pfefferkorn (Tate) will see time at tight end when Clearwater Valley has the ball on offense. Each of those players are sophomores.
“We will be relying heavily on the sophomore class,” Whalen told IdahoSports.com. “I believe we will have a good blend of quickness in our ground game.”
As usual in the 8-man game, that same core of players will be filling key defensive roles as well. Nelson, Schilling and Summers (Zane) will man the defensive line positions with Morrow, Summers (Bubba) and Dominguez will fill spots at the linebacker position. Pfefferkorn (Tyce) will play defensive back for the team.
Yes, a lot of brothers will be on the field together again in Kooskia in 2017.
The Rams did a solid job of putting points on the board last season, averaging 35 per game, but the defense surrendered nearly 39 points per game. Based on those numbers, it isn’t surprising that the team finished right around break-even for the season (4-5). Whalen told the Preview, after watching game film from last season, one key is breaking down the number of explosive runs the defense allows. Another big key is one that virtually every 8-man team in Idaho can relate to.
“Because depth is a weakness, we must stay injury-free for as long as possible,” he said.
The White Pine League can take a toll on the best of teams with tough foes like Genesee, Troy, Prairie, Lapwai and Wallace awaiting on the schedule – and that’s not meant as a slight to improving teams in Kamiah and Potlatch. Virtually any WPL contest can turn into a classic heavyweight tilt on any given night, underscoring the value of depth and good health.
If the line can buy time for the young skill players to develop and gain confidence, the Rams could be a darkhorse team this fall to compete for a playoff spot. But, either way, the new coach from California has a good, young nucleus to work with for the next few years as Clearwater Valley looks to punch through to the top of the White Pine League.