The first week of the prediction season is always the most intimidating because of the unknown.
We’ve done our research, traveled to preseason practices and listened to coaches fill us with optimism about their teams.
But until the chin straps are buckled and the ball is snapped, we really don’t know. We don’t even know what we don’t know.
Despite those unknowns, my return to the picks column ended with a 12-3 week — a solid start since I expected something closer to a .500 start.
So with renewed confidence bordering on cocky, we get right to the picks for Week 2.
Now a side note: for some reason the state refers to the opening week as Zero Week. I refuse to play this silly game. Week 1 is Week 1, Week 2 is Week 2.
Now the picks.
Bonneville at Madison
The Bees have had two weeks to recover from their loss to Colorado power Valor Christian while Madison has a short week after losing at Capital on Saturday. The Bobcats aren’t Valor Christian — no one in Idaho is. But the Bobcats showed they can play with a Boise team, falling 35-21 despite five interceptions from quarterback Konner Stoneberg, who also threw for 389 yards and two TDs.
Bonneville showed flashes of potential in its opening 61-20 loss and came out relatively healthy. But Madison showed even more, and the Bees will have to wait for their first 5A District 5-6 win. Madison 28, Bonneville 24
Idaho Falls at Rigby
The Trojans put a beating on Century to open the season, and it could have been much worse if Rigby’s starters had played deeper into the game. With nearly every key player returning from last year’s surprising conference championship team, Rigby expected to be good. Not sure they expected to be this good.
Junior quarterback Hayden Livingston showed efficiency (14 of 15 completions) and big-play ability 329 yards passing, three TDs), Drew Zagula rushed for three scores, and the defense made a statement.
It’s bad news for a Tigers team that was run over in a 42-7 loss at Eagle. Rigby 42, Idaho Falls 28
Century at Hillcrest
Hillcrest fought to the finish last week in Blackfoot but didn’t get a win to show for its effort. The payoff comes this week, when the Knights should overpower a Diamondbacks team that can’t match Hillcrest athlete for athlete.
Expect Beau Crouch, Morgan Pyper and company to run wild and claim the Knights’ first win of 2014. Hillcrest 27, Century 10
Skyline at Blackfoot
The most surprising outcome from Week 1 was Skyline’s closer-than-expected loss to defending 5A state champion Coeur d’Alene. The Grizzlies pushed the Vikings into the fourth quarter, showing a fight the team has lacked in recent seasons.
Unfortunately for the Grizz, Blackfoot got another strong performance from sophomore QB Pacen Hayes (291 yards passing, three TDs) and plenty of defense in a 20-14 win over Hillcrest. If the Broncos can recreate the formula of physical front lines and explosive skill players they had during their long stretch of dominance a few years ago, they could challenge Rigby in 4A District 5-6. Blackfoot 23, Skyline 16
Shelley at Teton
If anyone doubted Shelley, and there might have been some of you out there who thought the Russets might struggle to replace a senior class that won back-to-back state titles, Saturday’s dominating win over Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas was exhibit A why the boys in black and red are the dominant program in eastern Idaho.
Shelley’s defense was in midseason form. And the offense, led by sophomore QB Bryon Leckington, was better than expected.
That’s bad news for future opponents hoping the Russets might take a step back to the pack in 2014. Shelley 38, Teton 12
West Jefferson at South Fremont
West Jefferson shook off a 17-game losing streak last week by blowing past Soda Springs — a new coach and a group of motivated players seeming to quickly fit together after such a short time together.
South Fremont gave up nearly half a hundred in the first half of last week’s loss to Snake River.
Despite the first impressions, it says here that West Jefferson isn’t quite ready to start a winning streak. South Fremont 19, West Jefferson 12
Bear Lake at Sugar-Salem
Sugar-Salem lost to the top 2A team in the state last week, falling to Declo despite an early lead and a late surge. The Diggers are not going to make it two straight losses to 2A teams. Sugar-Salem 31, Bear Lake 9
Jackson (Wyo.) at North Fremont
Jackson ran over, around and through the Teton defense last week with what Redskins coach Brody Birch said was the best group of backs he’s seen in years. It’s a good bet Huskies coach Ben Lenz and his staff was on hand to witness the show with his team on a bye week. The Huskies will need more than a good game plan to stop the Broncs. Jackson 42, North Fremont 20
Firth at Soda Springs
Pity the poor Cardinals, who get the honor of playing an angry Firth team looking to take out its frustrations following a Week 1 loss to West Side. If you’re looking for a sure thing, look no further than this. Firth 35, Soda Springs 0
Malad at Ririe
Ririe lost an overtime shootout to the Star Valley (Wyo.) JV last week, so they should enter tonight’s game against Malad with confidence. Confidence alone won’t be enough to beat the Dragons. Malad 21, Ririe 12
Challis at Raft River
Challis quarterback Brandon Hamilton had a game for the ages last week, rushing for 198 yards, throwing for 180 more and piling up 14 tackles in a close win over Mackay. That should be enough to pick the Vikings. But it’s not. Raft River brings back plenty of talent and it’s playing at home, which should be just enough. Raft River 41, Challis 38
Butte County at Mackay
It’s hard enough for 1A teams to find one good runner; Butte County showed off four in a season-opening win over Watersprings that was closer than expected. All four also play prominent roles on a new-look defense. Simply put, the Pirates have too much talent for Mackay to overcome. Butte County 32, Mackay 18
Dietrich at Watersprings
Dietrich an into a buzzsaw last year, falling to eventual state champion Salmon River in the 1A Division state semifinals. That loss has provided the Blue Devils all the motivation they need for 2014. Dietrich 29, Watersprings 12
Clark County at Shoshone JV
It’s tough to predict what you’ll get from a 1A JV team — how many good players can a 1A school have, anyway? Shoshone has a good program, so they’ve got enough to present a challenge. But Clark County has the numbers, and the athletes, to answer that challenge. Clark County 41, Shoshone 31