Photo By Loren Orr - #6 Gideon Lowen
Written by Chris Deremer
The McCall-Donnelly Vandals look toward new beginnings after experiencing a heartbreaking loss to end the 2019 season.
With the Vandals making their first jump to 3A this coming season, McCall-Donnelly looks to keep its strong momentum they carried last season. During the 2019 season, the Vandals simply dominated their opponents leading to an 11-1 record.
Throughout the month of September alone, the Vandal defense didn’t allow a single point to opposing teams and scored at least 40 points per contest.
Unfortunately, the undefeated season fell short in the 2A Idaho State Championship game, inches away from claiming the first state title for McCall-Donnelly. This season will boast a new squad, playing within a new division and new conference for the upcoming 2020 season.
Vandal Head Coach Lee Leslie returns for his sixth season, boasting an astounding 37 years of coaching experience within high school football. One of the key additions to the staff this year will be BJ Sorensen, the new defensive coordinator for McCall-Donnelly.
An astounding group of talent is being replaced this coming season, with new faces excited to make their mark this season.
The Vandals will have to be without their star quarterback Pete Knudson from a year ago, the former Idaho State Player of the Year. That brings an interesting quarterback competition for the Vandals with McCall-Donnelly having four quarterbacks currently on the roster.
Senior Wylee Onthank will be the oldest of the group and possibly the most experienced out of the quarterback room..
With questions at quarterback, the Vandals will be fortunate to have senior running back Beau Carr in the backfield. Carr received second team all-conference honors a year ago, and looks to be one of the main offensive weapons for the Vandals this season.
McCall-Donnelly produced seven defensive shutouts in 12 games last season, but will be out four key defensive producers. Coach Sorensen will lead the defense with many new faces. While Carr will be one of the main offensive weapons, he will be one of key factors on defense as well, being one of four defensive captains on this team.
Senior outside linebacker Gideon Lowen will be a terror for the Vandal defense too, after receiving first team all-conference and first team all-state honors a year before.
One player to watch out for will be Skyler Young, one of the young and emerging defensive linemen for the Vandals. If he can wreak havoc early on opposing offenses, he may provide the perfect spark this team needs to ease the jump into playing 3A football.
The Vandals aren’t just making the jump to 3A, but are also getting an opportunity to play in one of the toughest conferences in the league, the Snake River Valley Conference.
The Vandal defense will be the main key this season, with having to hold off strong offensive teams that squads like Weiser and Homedale have been able to produce in years past.
One of the more intriguing matchups will be against the Homedale Trojans. Last season, both the Trojans and Vandals came up short in their state title games. With both having unfinished business, the Vandals have an opportunity to make a statement with a win over the Trojans.
McCall-Donnelly is an intriguing addition to an already exciting conference, and Coach Leslie and his squad are ready to turn heads this season.
McCall-Donnelly opens the season Aug. 28 against Orofino.