Written by Will Hoenike
After a four-year run that saw the Lapwai Wildcats win 28 football games, reaching the postseason each time, the squad found itself in unfamiliar territory in 2019. The players were turning in their gear after a two-win season.
Now, the ever-athletic group is looking to rebound this season.
Head coach Josh Leighton, Jr. once again has a group of solid athletes to work with, led by junior quarterback Titus Yearout. Already one of the state’s best basketball players (at any level), the 6-foot-2 Yearout will look to use his many talents to lift the Wildcats back into the postseason. The team will need to find a new workhorse running back with the loss of all-conference performer Dom Williamson, who was a senior last year.
The team does have a pair of talented returning playmakers in juniors Simon Henry and Kendrick Wheeler, either of whom could line up in the backfield or at receiver in order to maximize their athleticism. In a tough loss to conference rival Troy last fall, the duo combined for 11 receptions for nearly 250 yards and a score.
Kayden Comer-Penney returns to anchor the offensive and defensive lines for the Wildcats.
With a change to the playoff structure in the 1A Division 1 ranks that allows seven at-large bids, regardless of what league they come from, Lapwai certainly has the ability to play itself back into the postseason. The White Pine League is often one of the deepest in the state of Idaho and this year seems no different, especially with defending state champion Prairie back with a strong roster. So no team in the league can afford untimely losses.
The Wildcats should once again be fun to watch. There is plenty of ability and energy wearing the blue and white this season. Seeing the team back in the 1A Division 1 playoffs likely won’t surprise too many people.