Photo By Randy Jones - #81 Cole Harris
Written by Zack Kellogg
The Preston Indians, who have made two straight state tournament appearances during head coach Eric Thorson’s first two seasons, are looking to extend their stay in the postseason.
The Indians look to fill voids left by quarterback/defensive end Ty Hyde and running back/safety Andrew Iverson. Both were three-year starters and were touted as leaders by Thorson.
The door is now open for junior varsity and possibly freshman players to make the jump to varsity.
“Confidence and execution are the keys to the offense this season. Players are familiar with the system, but few have varsity experience,” Thorson said. “Relying on what they know will be key to moving the ball.”
Although playing on the varsity squad can have significant differences to junior varsity, having the playbook and schemes implemented should alleviate the learning curve struggles that young players have with learning a new system.
This doesn’t mean the system isn’t without changes. On offense, quicker passes, misdirection runs and run-pass-option plays have been added to help with diversity and helping the newcomers find success early.
But the focus of the offense is usually the one under center and the Indians have a new leading man for Fridays: junior Brecker Knapp.
“Brecker Knapp has grown from the junior varsity starting quarterback to the leader of the offense,” Thorson said. “Knapp will be the key to our offense’s execution. The junior has played several years as a quarterback and should make a great impact moving to the varsity ranks.”
Preston will have a mix of experienced returners and newcomers at running back and wide receiver. One of which is senior Cole Harris, a second-team all-conference selection at wideout, with Chevy Nelson and Brayden Hess making their varsity debut.
In the backfield, senior Tait Rawlings is next in line to take over for Iverson at running back, but his accolades in 2019 came on the defensive side of the ball. Rawlings was a second-team all-conference on the defensive line.
Stopping the run is the top priority for the defense’s success Thorson said. Rawlings, Harris and junior defensive tackle Corbin Winward were listed as the keys up front to clogging the running lanes and stalling opposing run games.
The Indians are set to work in a 4-2-5 base defense that can be audibled into a nickel package to limit the passing attack if the Indians stall the running game as planned.
Being a part of a three-team conference can appear as an easy path to the playoffs, only needing two wins to secure the conference title. But it adds even more weight to conference play, with two games carrying the largest weight, and one bad game could decide the season.
For Preston, Century and Pocatello are circled on the calendar as the most anticipated matchups of the year as the “path to the playoffs.”
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated Preston scores and schedules throughout the season.