Idaho Falls High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Pete Molino
Years as Head Coach: 5th Season
Previous Experience: Assistant coach at Idaho Falls High School and Idaho State University.
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991
Cameron Conrad RB, Junior
Canon Thompson QB, Junior
Todd Payne, RB/DE, Senior
Jacob Strobel, OL, Senior
Max Edmisten, OL, Junior
Isaias Rameriz, OL Junior
Noah Hillam, TE/WR, Senior
Payton Powell, WR/LB Senior
Craig Cooper, DB, Senior
Mikey Miller, LB, Senior
Carson Fugelberg, TE/DE, Junior
Matt Olsen, DL, Senior
Gavin Shelley, WR, Senior
Tyler Ackershot, OL, Senior
Returning Players with Honors:
Todd Payne, All-Conference Honorable Mention DL
Cameron Conrad, All-Conference Honorable Mention RB
Photo By: Brad Barlow - #29 Todd Payne
Incoming impact players:
Chase Baker, WR, Junior
Written by: Matt Harris
The 2016 season was a breakthrough one for the Idaho Falls Tigers. After the Tigers suffered through a 1-8 campaign in 2014 and going 0-9 in 2015, last season’s success certainly brought energy and excitement into the program.
Now, after making an appearance in the first round of the state tournament last year to cap off their season, the Tigers are hungry for more. And they have a good amount of returning talent to progress even further.
Idaho Falls brings back junior signal caller Cannon Thompson, who started as a sophomore but suffered a hand injury that kept him out of part of the season. Thompson will be joined in the backfield by junior Cameron Conrad and senior Todd Payne.
The Tigers will also have good athletes in the receiver positions as seniors Noah Hillam, Payton Powell, and Gavin Shelley will look to give Thompson a deep threat downfield. Incoming junior Chase Baker is expected to make an impact as a wideout. Hillam will also see time at tight end along with junior Carson Fugelberg.
The orange and black will also return a good amount of experience on the offensive line as seniors Jacob Strobel and Tyler Ackershot, along with juniors Max Edmisten and Isaias Rameriz, will anchor the protection up front for the Tigers.
Head coach Pete Molino says that he’s looking forward to what the offense can do this season.
“We have a strong offensive line, experience at quarterback and wide receiver, and a lot of speed at the skill positions,” he said. “I feel those are our strengths.”
Molino, now in his fifth season as head coach at Idaho Falls, also added that despite those strengths across most of the offense that there needs to be a gelling of that unit quickly.
“We’ve installed a new offensive system this year,” he said. “It’s designed to establish the run first and enhance the pass game.”
As with any new scheme, it can take some time for players to adjust to that particular system. But belief and confidence in that system is what Molino says is a big factor in their potential success.
“We have to have confidence in our run game and our system,” the head coach said. “Our kids have to realize and know that they can move the ball five or more yards at any time. That is really the X-factor to our success this year.”
While the offense will be looking for their groove, the coaching staff is hoping that the defense can pick up where they left off and continue to progress and improve.
The Tigers return their entire defensive line to the field this year, including senior Matt Olsen along with Payne, and Fugelberg. Joining them in the linebacking corps is senior Mikey Miller along with Powell. Senior Craig Cooper will anchor the secondary.
Molino says that his team’s speed on the offensive side of the ball should also pay dividends on defense.
“We have a lot of experience, speed, and aggression returning to our defense,” he said. “Our entire defensive line is back and they bring a lot of strength and size along with that speed. They should be a cornerstone of our defense this year.”
When reflecting on last year, the coach pinpointed a certain area that needed a big improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
“The run game,” said Molino. “We have to improve on shutting down the run game inside the box.”
The Tigers will get their first chance to see the fruits of their labors on the field on August 25th, when they host Bonneville. They will then travel up US-20 to take on Madison on Sept. 1, followed by a home date against Jerome out of District 4. Those three games should give Idaho Falls a good idea of where they stand as a team and what improvement need to be made as they head into conference play.
The league schedule opens for the Tigers on Sept. 15 on the road at Holt Arena when they face Pocatello, a team they upset at home last year. Their 27-19 win against the Indians in 2016, while only the first conference game of the year, actually put them on the inside track to a state tournament berth. The rematch this season in Pocatello could have the same effect for the victor.
Idaho Falls will then face archrival Skyline in the 53rd Emotion Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 23. Skyline has steamrolled Idaho Falls in the last three matchups with a combined score of 143-28 in those contests. The Tigers hope to return the Ravsten Stadium goal posts to a shade of orange for the first time since the 2013 game.
The team then hits the road on Sept. 29 for a date with the Blackfoot Broncos, followed by home matchups against Preston on Oct. 5 and a non-conference game with Hillcrest on Oct. 13. Idaho Falls then concludes the regular season on the road at Holt Arena with a game against Century.
The team and the coaching staff are ready to get rolling.
“I’m excited about the potential of our run game on offense and to see our speed and aggression on defense,” Molino said, who added that they are using the motto of ‘No Excuses’ as their theme this season.
If the team buys into the motto and their new schemes, don’t be surprised to see the Tigers in contention for their second consecutive playoff berth.