Printed on: November 17, 2012

Russets rule in 3A title game

By Michael Lycklama
mlycklama@postregister.com

EAGLE -- The Shelley High School football team surprised everyone with its 37-10 throttling of Fruitland in Friday's 3A state championship game.

Even its own head coach.

"I took bets last night and I thought we'd win by a score or less," Shelley coach Travis Hobson said. "I thought it'd be a dogfight the whole way through. To win by 30 points, get out of here."

The second-ranked Russets dominated the state's wire-to-wire No. 1 in a matchup that appeared destined the moment Shelley dropped down to 3A after spending the past two years as a 4A school.

Both teams ran through the regular season undefeated and posted a plethora of lopsided scores. But for the third time in six years, it's Shelley ending the season with the blue trophy and a perfect 12-0 record.

Shelley posted 12-0 seasons in both 2007 and '09, beating Fruitland in the state finals both times.

Fruitland entered with the top offense (44.2 points per game) and top defense (10.0) in 3A. But Shelley left no doubt who was No. 1.

The Russets defense manhandled Fruitland and its physical rushing attack, holding the Grizzlies to 183 yards of offense. Shelley's starting defense surrendered only a field goal, and that came after the Russets failed to convert on fourth-and-1 from their own 19-yard line. Fruitland's lone touchdown came against the Shelley backups.

"They're a physical team," Shelley senior middle linebacker Trevin Swensen said. "But I think we're just as physical, if not more physical."

Shelley held Fruitland senior quarterback Joe Martarano -- a 6-foot-4, 230-pound three-star recruit committed to play linebacker at Boise State -- to 46 yards on 20 carries before he broke a 34-yard touchdown run. He also completed 4 of 12 passes for 71 yards with a pair of interceptions.

Shelley senior quarterback/linebacker Chad Leckington (6-3, 218 pounds) said he, Swensen (6-0, 220) and the rest of the Russets never backed down from the challenge Martarano posed.

"We team tackle a lot," Leckington said. "So even a big guy, if you've got four guys, he's going down."

Martarano's first interception followed a 56-yard Cannon punt that flipped field position with Shelley leading 7-3 in the first quarter. Two plays later, Tate Brown tipped a pass into the flat and Cannon corralled it and ran it back for a 7-yard score.

"That was the thing in the first half that really shifted the momentum," Hobson said. "Once McKay picked it off and ran it back, you could really feel in the stadium the air coming out."

Leckington misfired on his two passes at quarterback. But the three-year varsity starter finished his high school career completing 16 of his final 18 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He also opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown run.

Cannon, who along with Swensen has also started three years at the varsity level, caught nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. As always, the Leckington-to-Cannon connection proved lethal for Shelley.

"We always joked around that we have bluetooth," Cannon said. "We've been through a lot of wars and battles. It's great to come out on top finally."