Written by Zack Kellogg
Patient, develop and evaluate. This appears to be the approach for Caldwell entering what could be a challenging 2020 season.
Under head coach Steven Fleshman’s first season with the program in 2019, the Cougars had their first winless season since 2010, capping off a rough decade. From 2009-2019, Caldwell has an overall record of 19-80, but 2020 could be the season where a young team finds its footing and rhythm in the 4A SIC.
Twenty-eight players graduated from the 2019 squad, most of which were starters. This is a golden opportunity for any player at the varsity level: getting reps against high levels of competition. At the moment though, it is still not clear to who is leading the pack in position battles.
“It’s hard to say with so few having any varsity experience,” Fleshman said. “We have many young players that have taken care of the weight room end of things and now we wait and see.”
With the limited and unusual offseason, the offense and defense won’t go over any major overhauls, but will be “expanded,” Fleshman said.
Starting on offense, a balanced attack is always the goal: be able to hurt your opponent on the ground and find yards by the chunk with the passing attack. At running back, senior Ezra Hernandez is most likely to be the leading man or take a solid share of snaps for the ground attack.
For receiving, there is no clear indication now to which of the young newcomers is going to step in and help with the passing attack, but junior tight end Cameron Morales could be a safety valve and help establish the run with blocking on the edge.
Fleshman said the passing game, however, is going to be the key to getting the offense going, along of course with the production of the offensive line and their ability to keep the opposing defensive front seven at bay for four quarters.
On defense, it is getting the new guys all on the same page with what the team is doing on each play. Limiting the avoidable mental errors can be a tough challenge when having an abundance of young players, as the best way to learn or break habits is through repetition. Adjustments to the defensive playbook and schemes have been made to help the transition for new players easier and done quickly.
With a young group having their chance to shine, a high level of energy is to be expected on each snap to keep the energy high and play with a physical tone.
But as with most teams, the battle starts up front with the defensive line, which again, will feature new faces and young blood throughout.
A team like Caldwell that is looking for that new identity and a new roster of players ready to prove their worth, the Cougars can be a sleeper team capable of upset wins once the young team pieces things together.
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated schedules and scores for the Cougars throughout the season.