Photo By Kent Kidd - #6 Brevin Trenkle
Written by Hailey Stewart
After a strong 2019 regular season, Minico headed into the playoffs with a great deal of momentum on the hunt for a championship title. That hunt ended, however, after a second-round loss to Blackfoot 42-14.
Still, Head Coach Keelan McCaffrey said the Spartans look to bring last year’s successes to the gridiron this season.
Minico lost several key players to graduation, such as running back Ryan Chandler, a state-leading running back; center Greyson Harwood, an anchor for the Spartans’ offensive line for three years; and safety Zayne Maughn, a strong defensive player.
“Maughn was the defensive player of the conference and impact player at safety. His physical nature and communication skills will be missed,” McCaffrey said.
Chandler ran for nearly 2,000 yards last season, averaging 181 yards per game.
“Chandler was a state-leading rusher and one of the great running backs to come through this high school,” McCaffrey said. “He was an explosive running back that could blow the top off at any time.”
Even with the loss of some key players, McCaffrey expects many of this year’s squad will lead the Spartans to a strong season.
“We will be new across the board with new guys filling the void,” McCaffrey said. “They have been working hard all summer and I am excited to watch them impose their will.”
With plenty of skilled running backs ready to make big plays, McCaffrey hopes they can control the line of scrimmage from the start.
An all-purpose athlete, junior Easton Arthur is expected to bring an athletic presence to the middle of the defense this season.
“He can run people down and make athletic plays for us in the middle,” McCaffrey said.
Junior running back, Klayton Wilson will add depth to the backfield and Peyton McManus, a state high jumper and wide receiver, will open up the passing game for the Spartans.
Junior offensive guard Luke Arthur is expected to anchor the offensive line as a returning starter and stuff the run game on defense as linebacker this season.
“He is extremely physical and athletic,” McCaffrey said. “He will anchor the offensive line as a returning starter that will be a leader for the new starters.”
Junior safety Alfonso Martinez will bring back his athletic hitting power this year and will act as a replacement for Maughn, who graduated.
In addition to new varsity players, the Spartans also moved Skylar Morgan to the offensive coordinator position.
“He has college playing experience at Idaho State and will bring a balance to our offense,” McCaffrey said. “He is extremely crafty and will help our offense move the ball while attacking all areas of the field.”
McCaffrey said his young offensive coaching staff has now had a year of experience working together and he expects that will show this season.
“We have a young offensive staff who have put in the time to adjust our game offensively and make us better,” McCaffrey said. “I am excited to see their hard work pay off. They are energetic and ready to go.”
Since last season, McCaffrey and his team have been working on their passing game, getting the Spartans to a more balanced offense.
“We are traditionally known for running the football,” McCaffrey said. “We need to be able to move the ball in the air to complement our run game.”
Minico will return a strong defensive line this season led largely by seniors while adding a small group of new players. Last year’s defense led the 4A Great Basin Conference allowing just 20 points per game.
“We have to get lined up and you will see a relentless pursuit from our guys,” McCaffrey said. “They play hard for four quarters and are a very smart, disciplined defense.”
Senior free safety Nicholas Sorenson will bring a sense of leadership to this season’s defense, McCaffrey said.
“He is like having a coach on the field. He is a smart-intelligent football player who understands what we are doing back there,” McCaffrey said.
Junior lineman Johnny Hernandez will bring speed and force to the defensive line.
“He’ll be a defensive lineman that will never come off the field. He is tough to block and will be a force on third down,” McCaffrey said.
Senior Dawson Osterhout, a “tackling machine,” senior cornerback Cannon Schow and senior Kent Merril, an athletic outside linebacker will round out the returning defense.
Opening at home against Skyline, Middleton and Mountain Home, McCaffrey said the Spartans have one of the toughest schedules in the state this season.
“Our kids are tough-minded and want playoff-like games and that is what we get in this schedule,” McCaffrey said. “We are excited to host Skyline. We saw them two years ago in a playoff game.”
Minico is scheduled to open the season against Skyline Aug. 28.
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated scores and schedules.