Photo By Michella Davenport - #31 Jadan Jones
Written by Brandon Hill
To say Butte County’s roster was depleted this offseason could be an understatement.
The Pirates, part of a one-year co-op with Mackay, are coming off a 1ADI State Championship appearance. Competing under the banner of Lost Rivers, last year’s Pirates fought through an undefeated regular season, eventually falling to Prairie 26-6.
But entering a new classification cycle, Lost Rivers would have had to move up to the 2A should the co-op continue because of high attendance between the two schools. Knowing Lost Rivers didn’t have the depth to survive an 11-man season, Head Coaches Sam Thorngren and Travis Drussel decided to call off the on-hit wonder co-op.
In 2020, Butte County returns to the 1ADI Snake River Conference, a league they dominated when teamed up with Mackay last year. But with few returners left on the roster, Thorngren, now in his 15th season with the program, is looking at a full-on rebuild.
“We had multiple all-state, and all-conference players on this list. We’ll be missing some talented pieces, great leadership and lots of size and speed from this group of players,” Thorngren said. “This was the core of the teams that advanced to at least the state semifinals in three of the last four years.”
Senior receiver and defensive back Cummins Anderson returns to the Pirates, providing critical experience to an otherwise very young roster. Anderson, quarterback Tyler Wanstrom, receiver Haydan Angel and runningbacks Jadan Jones, Boone Gamett, Treyton Miller, Talon Gammett and Rebel Beard fill out the offensive side of the ball.
The Pirates employed a run-first mentality last season, rushing for 4,000 yards while throwing for only 800. Thorngren said this year’s offensive mentality has yet to be set, with so many new faces offering up a plethora of different talents and skillsets.
“We have to figure out what we do best. Last year we were physically dominant up front, so we leaned on our rushing attack,” he said. “This year we will probably be forced to throw the ball more often. Fortunately, our boys have been working on that all summer.”
On the front line, Thorngren said he’ll be counting on Porter Taylor, Jonah Reynolds, Rushton Anderson and McCoy Beard to help execute his complex blocking schemes.
“It’s important that all of our players learn their assignments and are on the same page, especially a young team like ours,” he said. “The talent is there, but we have to know our jobs and execute.”
On defense, Thorngren wants his squad to be what puts the Pirates over the edge in big moments.
“Offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” he said. “It’s tough to say than any position group is more important than the others. What is important is that all the players understand how the entire defense works.”
Replacing his starters won’t be easy, Thorngren said, but a fruitful offseason has given him the chance to pick out the diamonds in the rough. Thorngren lost every one of his defensive starters and said Butte County fans can expect a mix of new and old in this year’s approach.
“Our team takes pride in being disciplined on defense. All players have to know their run fits and coverage responsibilities,” he said. “We like to change up our fronts and coverages from time to time so it’s important that our guys communicate and know their roles.”
Butte County kicks off against Watersprings Aug. 28. Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated scores and schedules throughout the season.