BLACKFOOT – Football is back and it’s back with a vengeance, at least as far as high school football is concerned.
Following a week where we got a taste of what we are in store for this year, we head into the second week and five of our six local teams are at home, with only Aberdeen heading out on the road to take on the defending 2A state champions in the Declo Hornets.
Lets take a look at the local action beginning with Blackfoot against Star Valley.
Blackfoot (1-0) vs. Star Valley (0-0) at Bronco Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
Blackfoot opened the 2019 season with a pretty impressive offensive show, thanks to the big play. New running back Teegan Thomas lit things up at Holt Arena with five long touchdowns, four from over 50 yards, and two long pass plays as well. Thomas added some needed speed to the running game and responded well. The passing game showed a new dimension as Craig Young was able to connect for 80 yards with Kameron Lawes and from 29 yards to the speedy Reece Robinson. The blocking was crisp and gave the offense the time needed to complete those plays and make the long runs possible.
The defense did enough to help win the game, but they will be expected to step up this week against Star Valley. They say a team shows its most improvement between the first and second games, so this is Blackfoot’s chance to showcase its defense. This one should be all about Blackfoot establishing itself and letting the rest of the state know who they are. A year ago, they had the same opportunity and failed miserably as Star Valley just plain kicked some Bronco butt. Not gonna happen this year.
Blackfoot 42, Star Valley 13
Snake River (1-0) vs. West Side (1-0) at Harrison Field, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Panthers unveiled their 2019 offense and defense a week ago and unfortunately for Kimberly, they took the brunt of a lot of built-up frustrations from a year ago. The running game looked very good behind senior Treyton Young and even though they had a back-up quarterback at the helm due to an injury to last year’s starter in Mitch Lindsay, sophomore Cole Gilbert was superlative in his handling of the offense. His passes were crisp and on target and his decision making in the running game was spot on.
The defense was scrambling and hustling and made plays all over the field. The Panthers may have let Kimberly get the first score on the board early in the first quarter, but from then on the game was not ever really in doubt. With a game under their belt so to speak, the Panthers will be welcoming in a 2A powerhouse in West Side. In fact, West Side is the top-ranked team in the state this week, so they will be a good test for the Panthers. West Side hosted Firth a week ago and took care of business by a 28-18 score, so either both the Pirates and Cougars are pretty good, or the Pirates may be a bit overrated. Anyway, in a game between a pair of undefeated teams, the edge here will go with the Panthers. 3A schools should almost always take care of 2A schools, even ones that are top rated. The Panthers just looked too good a week ago to not think they will prevail. It may be tough, but Snake River will win.
Snake River 35, West Side 16
Shelley (0-1) vs. Sugar Salem (1-0), at Russets Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
Shelley got a bit ambushed a week ago, although that may not be fair to Skyview of Utah, the top-ranked and now 3-0 Hawks from Utah. Skyview ran over, around and through the Russets and also threw the ball exceptionally well. The Russets are better than they were able to show a week ago and will show some of that improvement this week. Whether or not that will translate into a win against the top-ranked 3A team in Idaho remains to be seen.
There is a reason that Sugar-Salem is not only the top-ranked team in Idaho, but also the defending state champions. This is a brutal stretch of the season for Shelley as they will face not only Skyview of Utah, the defending 5A state champions, but also Idaho defending champions in both 3A and 4A classifications. The Russets are still getting used to a new offense and defense installed by new head coach Josh Wells and once they get things rolling,will likely have their share of upsets down the road. It just most likely will not happen this week.
Sugar-Salem 42, Shelley 14
Firth (0-1) vs Soda Springs (0-0), at Cougar Stadium, Friday 7 p.m.
A week ago, the Firth Cougars set out to play against West Side full of anticipation, enthusiasm and confidence, even though they were the underdogs and had a roster full of young players. They hung in the game against the Pirates and returned home with the same enthusiasm and confidence they had when they left and with the knowledge that they had played the top 2A team in the state pretty much heads up for 48 minutes.
They may have come home on the wrong end of a 28-18 score, but they were in the game and that bodes well for this week and the weeks to come. They may have lost that game, but they have been beaten and they will be ready for the Cardinals of Soda Springs this week. With new head coach Jordan Bartlett at the helm, the Cougars will look a lot more like the Cougars, a scrappy, tough group who expects to win each and every time they set foot on the field. This week, they will get to celebrate a win in front of their home crowd.
Firth 28, Soda Springs 12
Aberdeen (1-0) at Declo (0-1) at Hornet Stadium, Friday 7 p.m.
A year ago, the Aberdeen Tigers had Declo on the ropes in their second game of the season, before Declo managed to do what Declo does, and that is pull a game out in the second half. That was then and this is now. Declo was soundly beaten last week by Sugar-Salem and it was very clear that this is not the same Hornets team that won back to back state titles in 2017 and 2018.
Well, this is not the same Tigers team either. This Tigers team is stronger and faster than maybe even the team from a year ago. Their “team first” attitude was very evident in their big win a week ago against 3A American Falls, a team who seemingly has resigned itself to be the designated whipping post for the Tigers in each season’s opening game. The Tigers are bound and determined to get a win against Declo and this is their chance as they are better all around than the Hornets and should prevail.
Aberdeen 35, Declo 14
Sho-Ban (0-1) vs. Rockland (0-1) at Sho-Ban, Friday 7 p.m.
The Sho-Ban Chiefs are back and playing football again. That was the good news from a week ago. Not only that, but they have some offense as they scored 30 points in a game against Pyramid Lake, Nev. That came after an eight-hour drive and installing a new offense and defense. Pyramid Lake, while maybe not the best eight-man football team around, did have the experience edge and Sho-Ban hung in there for most of the game.
This week, the Chiefs find themselves matched up against Rockland, a team that dearly loves its sports, but is coming into the second week of the year on the heels of a pretty hard beating at the hands of Valley, 74-38. That is hard to overcome and gives all Chiefs fans a feeling of having a chance this week. This game may be high scoring and I am hoping that the home field advantage gives the Chiefs the edge to get into the win column.
Sho-Ban 42, Rockland 36