It is almost impossible to think that we are already into the third week of the high school football season. What is even more incredible to think is that Blackfoot is 0-2 and facing an 0-3 start in the first time in quite a while.
Snake River, following an impressive opening game, fell on their swords and lost at home to West Side by a score of 27-0, the same team that beat them 34-0 a year ago. There must be something in the water at Weston that we need to import to Bingham County.
Shelley is off to its best start in several years, having downed Preston and Sugar-Salem on the road to open the season.
Firth is who we thought they would be and could have been the number one team in all of 2A football, had they not lost their concentration for just a second in the closing minute of their opening game with West Side. They rebounded nicely with a big win over Soda Springs, scoring 58 points in the process.
Aberdeen beat American Falls as expected, then fell to Declo, also a bit expected because it has happened many times before.
Some really good things have happened locally and some not so great things have happened. This is where we sort things out and test the waters as we head into the heart of most teams’ schedules and we start to figure out who the contenders are and who the pretenders may be.
Shelley (2-0) vs. Jerome (0-2), Friday night at 7 pm at Shelley Russet Stadium
For the first time in a long time, since 2016, the Russets have started the season with a 2-0 record. That year they went 11-0 before losing to Fruitland in the 3A state finals at Middleton High School. There are many people talking about that season, and not to get ahead of ourselves, it isn’t the time nor the place to talk about a streak like that at this point of the season.
Have the Russets played well? Of course the answer to that question is a definite yes. Will they win this week? Most likely since they are facing an 0-2 team in Jerome, at home, and the Tigers have lost to a pair of 3A schools in the process, one of whom got blasted in their season opener against Snake River.
Now, the thing to remember is that Jerome is a 4A school and the Russets had better not overlook them this week or they might just beat themselves. I don’t think that can happen, in fact I am sure that coach Josh Wells will have his team raring to go when game time shows up on Friday night. The Russets have looked particularly strong defensively and that appears to be the Tigers’ weakness. They gave up 48 points to Kimberly, who showed they can score with anybody, but they only gave up 14 points when they opened the season against Gooding, one of the better teams in the 3A classification.
The guess here is that the Russets will slide by in this game, probably by a pretty good margin, although they haven’t shown a lot of offense in their two games thus far and will be looking to improve in that category against the Tigers.
Final Score: Shelley 35, Jerome 10
Blackfoot (0-2) vs. Snake River (1-1) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Hartkopf Field
At the beginning of the season, it was thought that with 24 seniors who graduated last spring, the Broncos would have a hard time replacing all of the departed players from a team that relied on its defense as much as Blackfoot did a year ago. Blackfoot’s defense gave up 18 or fewer points in all but two games a year ago.
While the Broncos lost a lot of players from that team, including three-year starter Stryker Wood in the defensive backfield, they also lost a defensive coordinator who is now in the same position with Snake River. This year, the Broncos have already given up 26 points to Thunder Ridge and 34 points to Idaho Falls. There is not much belief that they won’t give up points to Snake River as well.
Snake River, on the other hand, knew they would have to find a way to score and to use their running game to do so. In their opener against Kimberly, they thought they had that problem solved as they rushed for over 400 yards, with Zach Stailey gaining 224 and Carson Hawker gaining another 165 as they pounded the inside with Hawker and the outside game was handled by Stailey. That game plan didn’t work as well against West Side, whose interior defense bottled up the two runners and forced the Panthers to pass, where they were intercepted three times in that game.
It creates an interesting dilemma when you look at this game and how it might be played out.
Blackfoot doesn’t look to be an imposing defense, especially across the defensive line, so you would have to think that Snake River may be able to run against them.
On the other hand, Blackfoot doesn’t look all that imposing as a running team either, although Austin Ramirez did gain 125 yards in their opener but it did take him 27 carries to do so.
Blackfoot does have Ja’Vonte King on the receiving end and he has hauled in a couple of long passes and that does appear to be a weakness of the Panthers. They gave up huge chunks of yardage and three touchdowns against Kimberly’s Gatlin Bair and again last week, gave up a couple of touchdowns to wide receiver Bryler Shurtliff of West Side, who was named first team All-State at three positions a year ago. This game is going to come down to whoever can find a way to stop the other team’s offense, or whose offense finds a way to take advantage of the other team’s defense.
The feeling here is that over the past three years, Snake River’s defense has been lacking on coverage on one side of the field and lacking in tackling on the other side of the field. If Blackfoot figures that part of it out, they will be the winner. If not, look for a close game that may just come down to the final series to determine a winner.
Final Score: Blackfoot 30, Snake River 24
Firth (1-1) vs. Bear Lake (1-1) Friday, 7 pm at Cougar Stadium
Following a heartbreaking loss in their season opener on the road against West Side, the Cougars bounced back in a big way, scoring 58 points against Soda Springs on the road as well. They open their home season this week against Bear Lake, who has split a pair of games with Wyoming teams, beating Big Piney and losing to Jackson Hole.
This looks like another easy win for Firth, but sometimes, those Wyoming schools games can be a bit deceiving to the eye.
We all know that Firth is talented and the junior class this year has been expected to do big things and not overlooking teams on the schedule is one of those things.
Firth has a great offense and a very solid defense. The offense can score from anywhere on the field and with quarterback Gage Vasquez at the controls, you never really know where the ball will end up and how far the play will go. They have developed their offensive and defensive lines superbly and with All-State lineman Alex Ortiz playing on both sides of the ball, they can really play some serious football.
The defense also has a returning standout player in Athan Blonquist who led the nation in quarterback sacks and already has posted five on the year in only two games. When those two and blitzing linebackers get involved, the defense is very tough to score upon. Just ask West Side, who needed a 35 yard touchdown in the final 10 seconds of the game to erase a 14-12 lead held by Firth. That game eventually went into overtime, with West Side preserving a 22-game win streak.
Firth is the real deal, as future opponents will soon find out, and they should win this game very comfortably on Friday night. The only real danger here is if coach Jordan Bramlett’s team is looking ahead to next week’s game against South Fremont. If they are, it could be a nailbiter, but even then, the Cougars will be the better team and should prevail over the Bears as they travel into Nuclear Conference territory on Friday night.
Final Score: Firth 34, Bear Lake 10
Aberdeen (1-1) vs. South Fremont (2-0) Friday night 7 pm at Tiger Stadium
Aberdeen followed up its traditional opening game bashing of American Falls with the obligatory loss to Declo the second week. Not much is really known about the Tigers, other than they showed they could run the ball against American Falls, but then again, what team over the past dozen years or so hasn’t been able to do that?
South Fremont is unbeaten after two games and is making noise in the media high school football polls this week as they travel to Aberdeen. They also have a danger sign flashing in front of their faces. If they are looking ahead to what should be a great game next week against Firth, the Tigers have the type of team that could produce an upset and sent the Cougars packing and the dreams of an unbeaten season dashed.
For the first time in a long time, the South Fremont team has the Sugar-Salem Diggers on the ropes early in the season, but the defending state champions always seem to find a way to rebound and we know that is coming as coach Tyler Richins of Sugar-Salem will right that ship and be ready for South Fremont down the road. The key here is for the Cougars to not get caught up in the hype before then and end the fairy tale before the clock strikes at midnight and Cinderella turns back into a pumpkin.
Aberdeen needs to do what they do best, if South Fremont lets them, and that is control the ball and the clock, shortening the game and taking advantage of their running game and playing good defense. If they do that, this game could fall into the hands of the Tigers and it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened over the past several years.
If they can’t do that, then it could be a long night with a lot of scoring for the Cougars, who have shown they can put points up on the scoreboard.
Final score: South Fremont 28, Aberdeen 17 in a game that probably isn’t as close as the score might indicate.