BLACKFOOT – There have been close calls and there have been questions, but the Blackfoot Broncos have just kept plugging along.
Along the journey that has them seeded second in the 4A state football playoffs, the Broncos have been evolving. The defense, while a ball hawking unit that rises to the occasion has carried them at times, the offense has become more well-rounded and diverse and never was that point proven more than on Friday night.
The opponent was the Minico Spartans and they brought an offense that was dead set on proving that they could confuse and score enough to upset the Broncos on their home field and move into the semifinals.
They forgot one thing. The Broncos have a much more diverse offense than they have shown in recent years and when they were able to add back the speed and patience and cutting ability of a Teegan Thomas, the Broncos proved once again that they have the ability to adapt to nearly any situation.
The Spartans got the ball first and promptly drove it down the field for an early score. When the Broncos went three and out, back came the Spartans and just like that, they had the Broncos’ defense on their heels and the Blackfoot offense was in a hole, 14-0.
Into the lineup came junior running back Teegan Thomas, sporting a cast and padding on his injured left wrist. Thomas had been missing in action for four weeks and had missed three games, games that the Broncos had won without him, but he was needed and he stepped up to the task at hand. He ripped off runs of 9 yards, then five yards, another seven and then four more and the Broncos were moving the ball down the field.
Quarterback Craig Young added a pass completion and suddenly the Broncos had the ball inside the five yard line and it was third down on the two. Thomas took the handoff and drove the ball into the end zone for the Broncos’ first score and they were suddenly right back in the game, trailing 14-7.
That is when the defense turned the momentum around and into the Broncos’ favor.
Linebacker Zacoty Jones stepped in front of a Minico pass and the Broncos had a turnover and were right back on offense.
Thomas took over and took the ball to the right side of the line, found running room and sped down the field 41 yards to paydirt and a touchdown that brought the Broncos to within one point at 14-13. Kicker Dominic Sanchez took care of the rest, splitting the uprights for the tying points and the Broncos were right back to even at 14-14.
The rest of the game was about the multi-dimensional offense of the Broncos, led by Young, who threw touchdown passes to Brayden Wright, Jayden Wistisen and all-conference wide receiver Reece Robinson and fullback Dragen Robinson wasn’t left out either, as he chipped in with a one-yard run and the Broncos were in full control, winning the game by the final of 42-14.
“Our offensive line has just gotten better and better and our offense has gotten to the point where anybody can carry us,” Young said. “When you add in Teegan, we just become so much more explosive as a team and we think he is the best running back in the state.”
Thomas certainly did his part as he picked up 149 yards on the night, with two touchdowns and did it on 21 carries. This after having missed nearly four weeks and three games since his injury surfaced.
“It felt so good to be back, I have been on the sidelines just itching for a chance,” Thomas said. “(Coach Stan) Buck told me to be ready and when he put me in, I just followed that awesome offensive line and ran as hard as I could.”
While Thomas may have been the star of the game, it was Young and the wide receivers who kept the Minico defense off balance and helped get Thomas into the open. Young continually found wide receivers wide open in the Minico secondary and even when closely covered, the wideouts found ways to make the catches that allowed Blackfoot to blow the game open in the early part of the third quarter.
Next up for the Broncos will be a road trip to Nampa to challenge the Bulldogs for a spot in the 4A state finals against the winner between Middleton and Kuna for the state championshp. Friday’s game against Nampa will take place in Nampa and will begin at 6 p.m.