FIRTH – By now, most everyone who follows football in Bingham County has heard about the exploits of senior linebacker Taedyn Jacobsen last Friday night as the Firth Cougars overcame a 6-0 deficit to beat the previously undefeated North Fremont Huskies 7-6 and earn a spot in the finals of the 2A state football playoffs.
Jacobsen scooped up a fumble and sprinted 87 yards for the tying touchdown and then kicked the extra point to give the Cougars the lead and ultimately the win over North Fremont.
Jacobsen, a captain on the team and a leader on both offense and defense, has also just been named first team all-conference for the Nuclear Conference as a tight end, linebacker and kicker.
That is pretty heady stuff for the senior, even for one who has been so active in three sports while at Firth and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.
“We are lucky to have so many coaches that constantly tell us that we can do anything we set our minds to,” Jacobsen said. “They tell us every week that we have the team to win, that we can win if we just follow the game plan and don’t waver. That we all need to believe in each other and good things will happen. So far, they have been right about everything.”
It has been often said that offenses get the headlines and defenses are where championships are won. That is so true when you look at the Firth Cougars, especially this year. The defense has produced four shutouts on the season and two other games where they only gave up two scores. That is six of their 11 games where they have given up seven or fewer points and that points against average is only a shade over 12 points. That is pretty special, especially when you consider that more than half of the players on the roster are sophomores or younger. This team has been built for the future, not today, and they only graduate four seniors this spring from the roster.
Now, Jacobsen is one of those seniors and his fellow soon-to-be graduates — Jason Tucker, Trent Telford and Brandon Richards — are all key parts of the puzzle that has built this team that is currently 7-3 and facing the team that they are all too familiar with, the West Side Pirates, the defending Idaho state 2A champions in the title game on Saturday at Madison High School.
“We know those guys pretty well, we play them every year and they have a great program at West Side,” Jacobsen said. “We also know that we aren’t afraid of them and look forward to the challenge they present us with this week.”
The Cougars faced off against the Pirates in the first game of the year back in August. The Cougars scored first in that game and led 6-0, before West Side scored 33 unanswered points to claim the game 33-6.
Both teams have changed a lot since that time, with Firth finding its offense and learning how to play with all of the sophomores who are in the lineup each and every week.
West Side likes to run the ball and use the pass where they can and they can score points at any time. They have four games where they have scored 40 or more points in a game, but they have also had games where they have had trouble putting points on the scoreboard, including last week’s win over Declo, 7-0. Three times the Pirates have put up 14 or fewer points, but they won all three of those games.
“We need to come out and establish ourselves and play like we have been playing and we will be all right,” Jacobsen said. “We know they can score and we know that our defense is up to the task. We also know that our offense can score and we expect that we will put some points on the board.”
There is an air of confidence surrounding the Cougars right now and they are anxiously awaiting the challenge that is presented to them in the title game this week.
“This is a tight group, partially because there are so many young players on the team,” Jacobsen said. “Most of the players were playing their first varsity game when we faced West Side in the season opener. We showed that we could play with them early on, then we kind of forgot where we were and what we were doing and things got away from us.”
When the team met prior to the first game of the year, they all set some goals. Of course, like every team, they put down that they wanted to win a state title. They wanted to win district and they wanted to have a winning season.
Of those goals, the winning season has been checked off. They might not have won the district title, but they came back to beat the district champs in the playoffs a week ago. They find themselves in the title game this week, so there is a chance to possibly complete the trifecta of goals if they go out and play their game and upset the Pirates in the title game where the Cougars will find themselves as the underdogs. But then again, when haven’t they found themselves the underdogs this season and come out on top?
The guess here is that with the leadership they have developed with players like Taedyn Jacobsen and Athan Blonquist and the other upper classmen on the team, players like Jason Tucker and Brandon Richards and Trent Telford, you can never count these Cougars out of any contest.