BLACKFOOT – This is the second part of Friday Night Lights for this week, due to the fact that Blackfoot High School played on Thursday night and there are only three additional games tonight, featuring Snake River on the road at Teton in a very important 3A contest, Firth is on the road at Salmon in a game with Nuclear Conference implications, and Sho-Ban is at home against North Gem.
Aberdeen will have the week off during harvest break as will Shelley and both teams could use some time to try and regroup before tackling the final three weeks of the season and attempt to get into the state playoff picture.
Snake River (4-1) @ Teton (2-3) 7 p.m., Teton High School Stadium, Driggs, Idaho
Snake River is back to being Snake River with a solid 4-1 start to the season. In the mix of wins are the big win over Kimberly opening weekend, narrow wins over 2A powerhouse West Side (who many think is the best team in 2A this year) and against cross county rival Firth, who is opening some eyes with their 53-0 win over Ririe last week. The Panthers’ only loss was to Gooding on the road and by two points in a game that they had the chance to tie and just missed a two-point conversion. That game ended at 28-26 and could have gone either way.
Gooding and Snake River have been in the top five in the media polls all year or just outside the top five depending on the week. The Panthers are a good team, with a balanced offensive attack led by senior running back Treyton Young who looks a lot like the Treyton Young that was an all-state running back two years ago when he was a sophomore. They have flipped back and forth at quarterback with last year’s starter Mitch Lindsay missing the first couple of games due to an injury, but with Cole Gilbert stepping in, they were solid enough to keep winning. Now the Panthers have two experienced quarterbacks who each bring something different to the offense. The defense, which gave up 28 points to a good Gooding team, has been solid enough that they could help to carry the team into the playoffs as a legitimate contender for a state title.
Teton, which has wins over West Jefferson and Declo, also has losses to Jackson Hole, North Fremont and Salmon. It is the Salmon loss that is the most puzzling of all the games that Teton has played. They show wins over their first four opponents, but when they finally play someone of some credibility in North Fremont, their offense didn’t show up and they got blanked 48-0. I know that North Fremont is getting a lot of buzz about being the state champion in the 2A ranks already this year, but Teton is a 3A school and they should have performed better than that.
Teton’s wins are against suspect teams and there is a tendency to look past those schools because of who they are. Four of the five schools that Teton has faced are 2A schools and a 3A school should be winning those games. The other school, Jackson Hole, was played on the road and was the season opener, so it is hard to gauge the caliber of a game that it was. I will give Teton credit for beating Declo, and maybe a little credit for the win over West Jefferson, but those Panthers are not the Panthers they will be facing tonight in Snake River.
Everything that I can find on this game points to a win by Snake River, and if the Snake River defense shows up like I think it will, and the offense plays the way that it has all year, it could be a very one-sided win for Snake River in this one. I look for the Panthers to establish the run with Young and Ranstrum and Coombs, the top three backs for Snake River, to get things going early on and rack up the yards and scores. It could be 21-0 before Teton knows what hit them in this one. If so, the defense will just have to defend and take care of business for the Panthers to notch a big win before heading for the conference opener against Marsh Valley next week on the road.
I still think Snake River is better than advertised and will win this game fairly easily and the team mainly will be looking for the win without losing anyone to injury.
Snake River 31, Teton 14
Firth (2-3) @ Salmon (4-1) 7 p.m. @ Salmon High School Field, Salmon, Idaho
Firth may just be the best 2-3 team in the state. When you look at their losses — at Snake River by nine points, versus South Fremont by two points and at West Side in the season opener by 10 points — they could easily be 5-0 on the year. They were right with West Side in the opener when a late turnover gave the ball to West Side who got a late touchdown to extend the lead to 10.
West Side is the second-ranked team in 2A to North Fremont coming into this week. They lost to Snake River by nine points in a game that saw them down by one point and driving when back-to-back interceptions cost them the game 28-19. And against South Fremont, the Cougars were down 13-12 and driving when on a halfback option run/pass, the ball ended up in a defender’s hands for a pick six. The Cougars came right back with less than two minutes remaining to get a score and just missed the two-point conversion in a 20-18 loss.
Two of those three losses were to 3A schools that have either been ranked or just out of the rankings this year. When they have faced teams from 2A, they have pitched a pair of shutouts in beating Soda Springs 12-0 and Ririe 53-0. That tells me that Firth is a pretty good team and should be the team to beat in this game as well.
Firth is a very young team, with a lot of sophomores and freshmen playing some prominent roles on the team. They have just enough senior and junior leadership to make this a pretty complete team and when they get a couple of injured players back in the next couple of weeks, could be a team that will battle for a high placing in the state playoffs. They are led by senior quarterback Jace Erickson, senior running back Cannon Carpenter and do-everything, super sophomore Sam Park with Park and Carpenter playing both ways for the Cougars. They are just a handful of the group that has been playing “iron man” football for the Cougars and look for them to be prominent right from the start against Salmon.
I will give Salmon its due, they have started the season 4-1 and that is great for a program that has been a doomat in the Nuclear Conference for a number of years. The one drawback that I can see is one that most people will overlook, and that is the most recent game that they have played, against North Fremont.
North Fremont is 5-0 and the top-ranked team in the state. The most interesting thing about the teams that have been beaten by the Huskies is how they have returned the following week in their play. Of those five teams that North Fremont has beaten, only 3A Teton has come back to win the next week and they beat 2A West Jefferson the following week, not exactly the toughest team around. I think history has a way of repeating itself time and time again and that makes Salmon very likely to lose this game to Firth. I like Firth a lot and even if they are to lose this game straight up, the added advantage makes it almost a foregone conclusion in my mind.
Firth 27, Salmon 12
Sho-Ban (0-4) vs. North Gem (2-3) 7 p.m. Sho-Ban High School Field, Fort Hall, Idaho
If you are a fan of football and you have never seen an eight-man game, by all means, make the short trip to Fort Hall to watch the Chiefs against the Cowboys. I do believe this will be a one-sided game, as all of the Sho-Ban games have been, but there will be some good plays as well. Sho-Ban, winless on the season, hasn’t scored a point since its second game, but they have some offensive weapons and I think that with the bye week a week ago, they will get some things worked out on offense and will get on the scoreboard. The toughest thing for the Chiefs this year has been trying to get back into the swing of football as they haven’t played any since a couple of years ago. Getting enough players that were ready to play has been the toughest job for coach Tim Wilson and then getting the blocking and tackling schemes down was the second toughest job for the coaching staff.
North Gem can score and has scored more points in one of its two wins than the Chiefs have scored all season long. North Gem will be the favorite, make no mistake about it. The Chiefs would appear to need a super-human effort to win this game. Doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen.
North Gem, coming off of a couple of bad losses where their defense gave up 138 points in two games, has scored in every game, something that the Chiefs have not done, with their last two games resulting in shutouts. This is the Cowboys’ game to win or lose and there is no doubt about it.
The big thing about eight-man football is that there is a lot of excitement and if you like offensive football, then this is your kind of football. It is a lot like arena football, only it is played outside. It will be a bit cold I am sure, but with the chance of a touchdown being scored on every play and some hot chocolate it will make the game worth watching.
North Gem 58, Sho-Ban 26
Well, there you have it, the Friday Night Lights column for this week. We will be back to a normal week next week, with five games actually being played on Friday night, rather than a week like this where the harvest break plays into things and some of the matchups for next week will all have a bearing on the upcoming state playoffs. Also, we will be looking at the annual “Buck Bowl,” where Madison and Blackfoot get together with coach Mitch Buck of Madison taking on coach Stan Buck of Blackfoot. Snake River starts conference play with a road game at Marsh Valley and the only local team who will not be playing will be Firth who has a bye.