BLACKFOOT – Blackfoot High School Broncos graduated 26 seniors in 2018, from a team that may have made the 4A playoffs, but lost in the first round to Middleton by a score of 44-36.
For some fans, the season was a success, but to others, who have fond memories of four state championships under Head Coach Stan Buck, they wanted and almost demanded more.
The good news is that they have some key pieces from that team a year ago returning, including their best offensive players in Quarterback Craig Young and wide receiver/running back Reece Robinson and defensive standout Stryker Wood, who was only a sophomore.
Head Coach Stan Buck is all but a legend in Blackfoot, having engineered and directed Blackfoot to four state championships, those coming in 2007, 2009 and then back to back in 2011 and 2012. The trophy case has not accepted any blue trophies since then and the Blackfoot fans have been clamoring for more. Will this be the year? That is a question that only time will be able to answer. There are some questions that will have to be answered and those answers may come early on in the season.
The Broncos run a spread offense, which is designed to offset the size that other teams can present and will offer problems to undersized teams. The Broncos will have to design a more efficient spread offense to battle the size advantage that teams Rigby, Madison, Hillcrest and Skyline will offer in order to gain an advantage.
One of those issues is to get Quarterback Craig Young more involved in the offense. Young will have to get to the outside and be able to run the ball, or learn to call his own number at the right times and get some tough yardage up the middle. He must be able to get offense on the ground himself.
The Broncos need to get a running back that can turn the ball up the field and produce some big plays. They must be able to do this without having to use Robinson as the running back. When he moves to running back from his wide receiver spot, the defenses can close in and work to stop the run and that keeps the offense from being as successful as it needs to be.
The defense in 2018 was led by safety Stryker Wood, who may have been the best all around football player on the field for the most part. He was strong on run support and in pass coverage, leading the team in tackles and interceptions. His presence this year will give the defense a player to build the defense around and his leadership should help with the process.
2018 started off in a good way with a big win in Holt Arena against a decorated and honest team from Canada that just couldn’t get anything going against the Broncos. That win was followed by a one sided loss to Star Valley of Wyoming and that was just how the rest of the season would go. There would be an encouraging win one week, followed by a an unexplained loss the next.
5A teams in particular seemed to give the Broncos the most trouble,but teams like Hillcrest and Skyline also offered up their own set of problems.
Consistency in 2019 will be a must for the Broncos to be able to consider the year a success. They must be able to handle the 4A teams on the schedule and at least be able to be competitive against the 5A schools. Failure to do that will likely lead to another year of maybe making the playoffs, but not advancing very far in the playoffs.
There is a lot of hope in the Bronco faithful, hope that this new season will bring with it more wins and a lot of excitement and the early excitement is brought about by a strong class of players that will be juniors this season and around whom much is expected. This team, as eighth graders, was undefeated and almost un-scored upon for the entire season. Hopefully fans won’t expect that kind of success this year, but if they can control the line of scrimmage, score some points of their own and be productive, this could be a special kind of season.
Just keep in mind that Bishop Kelly, Middleton and others will be waiting when the state playoffs come rolling around in late October and that begins a whole new season of challenges that can test the best of teams.
The Broncos will be well coached, should be well conditioned and expectations will be high. That all lends to a potential championship team if they are ready for the season opener on August 31 in Holt Arena against Lakeland.
If they can negotiate the schedule, in particular the first five games and avoid injuries, then this could be any kind of a team. In fact, if they are 5-0 tostart the season, then they will start the talk of another state championship, which many fans have been clamoring for the past several years.
It will do the Broncos no good to win the first game and then lay an egg like they did a year ago against Star Valley, because that will mean that they have gained nothing by going into Holt Arena the first week of the season.
It appears the Broncos have the key pieces to be a very good team, but they will need to mesh together and play like a team in order to get it all done this year.
■ Saturday, August 31, Lakeland 1 pm Holt Arena
■ Friday, September 6, Star Valley (WY) 7 pm Blackfoot
■ Friday, September 13, Bonneville 7 pm Blackfoot
■ Friday, September 20, Thunder Ridge 7 pm Thunder Ridge
■ Friday, September 27, Hillcrest 7 pm Thunder Stadium
■ Thursday, October 3, Skyline 7 pm Ravsten Stadium
■ Friday, October 11, Madison 7 pm Blackfoot
■ Friday, October 18, Idaho Falls 7 pm Ravsten Stadium
■ Friday, October 25, Shelley 7 pm Blackfoot