Written by Will Hoenike
If you ask veteran Richfield head coach Buck Hendren about the upcoming season, his sentiment would be pretty clear.
“We are glad to be re-joining the conference this year and to be playing at a varsity level again,” said the sixth-year head coach.
The past few seasons have been riddled with low turnout, forfeits and junior-varsity schedules. But Hendren’s crew looks ready to go this season with a solid group of sophomores who return after solid freshman campaigns.
Carsn Perkes returns as quarterback and linebacker. In his first season, he threw nine touchdown passes and led the team with 578 rushing yards on offense and also led the team with over 10 tackles per game on defense.
He’s joined by versatile Hudson Lucero, who scored four rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns, and topped the team with nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards on offense and nine tackles for loss on defense. That pair will be joined by Clay Kent, who caught 14 passes on offense as a freshman and chipped in 47 tackles and two forced fumbles on defense.
But those three don’t stand alone. Senior Dane West averaged more than nine tackles per game last season as a defensive back, senior Angel Melendez averaged six stops per game, and junior Donovan Fackrell averaged more than four tackles per contest.
So Hendren and his assistant, Tyler Cenarussa, return a good amount of production from last fall. In order to move forward this season, the coaches know continued growth and improvement is imperative.
Hendren likes his numbers along the front line with Fackrell, Melendez, Caleb Sutter, Jett Alanis and Lalo Barriga. If that group can progress, the offense should be able to move the ball. Defensively, Hendren says good tackling and containment are pivotal.
“In eight-man football, you have to control the outside of the field,” Hendren noted. “We should have players better-suited to the positions they will be playing.”
The Tigers are re-joining the 1A Division 2 Sawtooth Conference in District 4. Even though the conference lost Lighthouse Christian and Murtaugh, each of whom moved up to the 1A Division 1 classification, the Sawtooth is still a difficult conference. It features one of the state’s winningest programs at any level in recent years, Carey, as well as a perennially-solid Dietrich team. Camas County also returns after reaching the 1A Division 2 state playoffs last fall.
So what are the expectations for Richfield this season? It’s hard to say. Health, especially for small-school teams, is perhaps the single biggest factor. If injuries hit, a promising season can be derailed very quickly.
The Tigers have the pieces to be competitive this season. Perhaps the best news of all is that it appears to be a young team whose best days are likely ahead of it. There is reason for a lot of optimism going forward in Richfield.
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated Richfield scores and schedules throughout the season.