Photo By Michella Davenport - #21 Coby Rogers
Written by Chris Deremer
Priest River aims to regain its reputation this season in the gritty Intermountain League. After a winless 2019 season, the Spartans hope to build a hopeful future going into 2020.
Jared Hughes enters his second year as head coach of the Spartans. Hughes previously led the Spartans for three seasons between 2007-2009 before returning to coaching last season.
This season provides a building block for the future, with many freshmen and sophomores making up the majority of Priest River’s roster.
“We are looking to see what the young kids can do,” Coach Hughes said. “We will be playing a lot of ninth and 10th graders this year.”
With having a limited junior varsity roster last season, many young players had opportunities to be on the varsity roster. These opportunities can help ease some growing pains for the younger players this season.
Despite the lack of age, the experience will slowly start to come for this squad, making the Spartans a possibly dangerous team for the next few seasons. While rebuilding, the Spartans will be without some main pieces this season due to graduation.
Senior Rees O’Brien looks to take control of the offense, replacing the dynamic playmaking abilities that former quarterback Caden Brennan was able to provide for the Spartans these past few seasons.
Most importantly, Priest River will need to replace lineman Bradley O’Brien, who according to Hughes, was a cornerstone for the Spartans on both sides of the ball.
With Coach Hughes preaching strong offensive line play this season, younger players will have to take huge strides this season to compete with the Intermountain League’s best.
“They are the ones who have to create the holes for the backs to run through and protect the quarterback on pass plays,” Hughes said. “We may start several ninth and 10th graders, but we will be bigger than the last few years.”
For the past few years, the Spartans offensive philosophy has been downhill running, with that philosophy prevailing in 2020.
In order for that to be successful, a lot of stress will be on the linemen to perform well this season in order to provide plenty of opportunities for the Spartan running backs. One of those backfield playmakers will be senior running back Coby Rogers. Going into his final season as a Spartan, Rogers looks to be one of the offense’s heavy hitters this year.
For the Spartan defense, the linebacker group will be the main key to having success against opposing offenses this season. Junior linebacker Kameron Salesky will be the main defensive caller this season, leading a strong linebacker core filled with playmakers capable of setting the tone for the team night after night.
If this group can stay and grow together, we may be talking about Priest River being one of the Intermountain League’s best sooner rather than later.