Photo By Patty Theurer - #6 Colton Meyer
Written by Hailey Stewart
Coming off a strong 2019 season, the Mustangs look to replicate last year’s successes and move even further in the playoffs toward a 1ADII championship this season.
With a 9-2 2019 record, the Mustangs earned a first-round bye to start the playoffs but ultimately lost to Garden Valley 41-28. Just two weeks earlier, Horseshoe Bend outscored the Wolverines 48-33 in their last regular-season game of the fall.
This year, the Mustangs will look to achieve another successful regular season without many of last year’s starters.
Ben Howerton, Austin Fry, Calvin Drafke, Hunter Mckee and Ethan Smith will not be returning to the field because of graduation but made a lasting impact on the Mustangs’ Head Coach Craig Elliott said.
“These five senior players were highly productive on the field, but their leadership off of the field and in the weight room will be missed,” Elliott said.
Still, Elliott said he is excited about newer players in the varsity lineup. Senior Logan Brongard, Elliott said, will look to gain a great deal of experience this season and be a strong force on the field.
“(Brongard) is a great athlete but doesn’t have a lot of football experience,” Elliott said. “He has the potential to be a major offensive contributor later in the season.”
Although the Mustangs have showcased a run-heavy offense, this season Elliott hopes to get his offense to a more balanced state.
“The key to our offensive success is the development of our offensive line,” Elliott said. “We graduated two really good players and will have to work with underclassmen to get
them ready to play.”
After graduating two strong running backs last season, Elliott looks to senior Hunter Howerton and Blaine Meyer to handle a majority of the Mustangs’ carries.
Junior quarterback Colton Mayer will “carry the bulk of the offensive production.”
“He has been working hard in the weight room this summer and has made great progress in throwing the football,” Elliott said.
Overall, Elliott said he has seen a great deal of growth from the remaining offensive players who look ready to take on the season.
On the defense, Elliott and the team will be relying on a set of younger and less experienced players this season to hold down the defensive line. However, Elliott says he expects these players to step up and play physical this year.
“On defense, we lost a lot of size and strength. We will have to make that up
with sure tackling and speed,” Elliott said.
Elliott said the Mustangs will rely on junior defensive end Keegan Smith to anchor the defensive line and senior linebacker Hunter Howerton to lead the back end of the defense.
Of this year’s opponents, Elliott is looking forward to the Mustangs’ matchup against Council this season. Horseshoe Bend won 40-6 last season against the Lumberjacks.
“They are an up and coming program in the Long Pin. They have a long tradition of winning and are well-coached,” Elliott said.
Horseshoe Bend opens the season Aug. 28 against Wilder.
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated scores and schedules throughout the season.