Photo By Willy Harris - #6 Keegan Croteau
Written by Zack Kellogg
The season started and ended with losses to a division rival, but Bishop Kelly looks poised to claim its eighth state title crown in 2020.
With a 7-3 record and head coach Tim Brennan having the Knights ready for another deep playoff run, everything seemed business as usual with a 50-7 win against Canyon Ridge in the first round of the 2019 postseason. But the season ended just as it began, with the Nampa Bulldogs coming away with the win, knocking the Knights out in the quarterfinals.
The front seven appears to be set for a potentially productive season and will be the cornerstone to lead Bishop Kelly to its first State Championship title since 2015.
“We will have more (depth) in the defensive line and linebackers than in years past,” Brennan said.
Senior defensive lineman Manu Lete returns after an All-Conference first team season, with Brennan slating Lete as not only a key returner but showing significant growth.
Brennan said getting pressure on the quarterback and plugging up the run at the line of scrimmage will be the top priority defensively. The Knights will stick with a 4-3 defense, but defensive coordinator George Gamber has updated the secondary’s schemes. Senior Trent Allumbaugh is expected to have an elevated role within the team to fill for the graduated second-team All-State defensive back Riley Lizama.
Brennan, entering season 25 at Bishop Kelly, says the offense’s key to success this season will come down to the new offensive line and quarterback.
Senior Keegan Croteau will be the leading man for the Knights, taking over for Beau Nelson. Nelson started for two seasons at quarterback and accepted an offer to Stanford University after his impressive 2019 campaign. Croteau played a crucial part in Nelson’s and the offense’s success in 2019, being named All-Conference Second Team at wide receiver and kicker, earning honorable mention as a defensive back and punter.
The offensive line took a hit, losing three All-Conference caliber players, with seniors Patty Jess, Zack Stone and Jack Schalfer expected to pick up the production and leadership going into next season. With the offense looking to remain on the ground in 2020, the battle at the line of scrimmage will be a key point of emphasis.
The offensive approach is simple for 2020: run the ball and kick up the option game. Brennan said personnel changes over the offseason will give the Knight offense more opportunities to crack open the playbook while sticking to the team’s ground-and-pound attack.
The lead running back spot remains in the air. Aaron Rooney, Colby Weikert and Steven Rivas, all entering their senior season, will compete for the starting job, but a running-back-by-committee situation is an option as well. Having three running backs and a mobile quarterback could mean a shared workload for the Knights could be the best situation to keep fresh legs in the backfield.
With the planned increase use of the option, a ground-and-pound game plan with the former wide receiver Croteau under center could give the Knights plenty of opportunities for long, methodical drives and a creative playbook with play-action passes and multiple running back sets.