NAMPA — The Blackfoot Broncos have been on a roll ever since the second game of the season, when they suffered their only loss on the year. That loss, to Star Valley, Wyo., seems to have been the catalyst for a team that needed focus, and boy have they ever been focused.
The winning streak that the Broncos have been on since that defeat continued on Friday night as Blackfoot did nearly everything right in a 35-14 win over the Nampa Bulldogs in the 4A state football semifinals.
Kuna defeated Middleton 70-34 in the other 4A state semifinal football playoff game Friday night, so it’ll be No. 1 Kuna vs. No. 2 Blackfoot to decide the championship next week, possibly at Holt Arena.
Nampa entered the game following a big win of their own last week behind sensational quarterback Donavan Estrada, who accounted for five touchdowns in a 35-28 win over favored Bishop Kelly.
The Broncos never let Estrada get his feet under him as the Bronco defense harassed Estrada when he dropped back to pass and they corralled him when he tried to run.
On offense, the Broncos used their offensive line to open holes for running back Teegan Thomas, who darted, dashed and powered his way to 232 yards on 38 carries and four touchdowns, and the offense simply controlled the line of scrimmage and shortened the game with time-consuming drives.
That was just what the doctor ordered to beat a dual threat quarterback, they kept him on the sidelines while Blackfoot simply opened up the floodgates in scoring their 35 points and put enough distance between themselves and the Bulldogs, that Nampa had to resort to gambling on the passing game and that was when Blackfoot slammed the door shut on Nampa.
With defensive ends Andrew Baldwin and Tyson Dory flushing Estrada and harassing him on passing plays, they set the tone for the game and they did so in such a menacing manner that the Bulldogs simply couldn’t get anything going on offense. Aside from a couple of big plays, the Bulldogs’ vaunted offense was never seen on Friday night.
The Bronco defense, led by defensive backs Robert Zemp, Reece Robinson, and Stryker Wood covered the receivers of Nampa like a nice thick quilt covers a skier on a cold winter night and when the Bulldogs did make a reception down field, they were tackled almost immediately, thwarting any potential scoring drive the Bulldogs attempted.
It was a total team effort, but the defense definitely shined Friday night.
“We have had a lot of little injuries this season, and we are just now getting close to being 100 percent healthy,” coach Stan Buck said. “Each week we have gotten a little bit healthier and it showed tonight.”
Part of the injury bug that has bitten the Broncos was leading rusher Teegan Thomas, who suffered a broken wrist against Madison, nearly five weeks ago. His return a week ago sparked the Broncos to a win over Minico and his four touchdowns against Nampa was instrumental in the win.
“When you have a great running back like Teegan, you tend to just give him the ball as often as he can handle and he has proven to be pretty durable,” quarterback Craig Young said. “We think he is the best running back in the state and we wouldn’t trade him for anyone. The offensive line loves him as well as he follows his blocks so well and gets a lot of extra yards with his determination.”