Photo By Steve Conner - #14 Ben Ford
Written by Wayne Dzubak
Eagle’s 7-4 record in 2019 wasn’t exactly what first year head coach John Hartz was hoping for, especially with the Mustangs talented roster. Nine Eagle players from 2019 were honored with All-Conference awards, including Derek Tommasini as the co-defensive player of the year in the SIC.
Tommasini graduated along with All-State receiver Cam Churchill, All-State running back Charlie Baker and All-Conference defensive back Gannon Matthews.
In their place, Hartz will rely on five players with postseason recognition, including quarterback Ben Ford, who also doubles as a defensive back and earned All-Conference at both positions.
Ford is the senior leader the coaching staff will rely on to run a balanced offensive attack based on execution. Ford will have Jackson Stampfli in the backfield at running back, while the running lanes will be cleared by three returning offensive lineman and tight end Michael Ellis.
The mastermind behind Hartz's offense is coordinator Mike Virden. The former Boise State quarterback is expected to bring a few new wrinkles to the offense but that shouldn’t be a problem for Eagles veteran returning players.
Hartz said his biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball is the graduation of Derek Tommasini and Gannon Matthews, a pair of first-team All-Leaguers and on the field leaders. Hartz says the 2020 defensive will be defined by a collective effort. The philosophy will remain the same, fly to the ball and hit hard. One bright spot is the return of Brett Tommasini.
“Brett Tommasini was great last year for us, but I expect him to be absolutely dominant this year with all of the work he has put in added to his athleticism,” Hartz said.
Eagle has won three Idaho State football crowns but the Mustangs haven’t been to the winners' circle since 2009, despite being perennial playoff participants.