The football semifinals are officially upon us, which means it’s time to break down all six matchups in District 6. In here, you’ll find capsules for the following games…
5A: Rigby vs. Meridian
4A: Skyline vs. Pocatello, Blackfoot vs. Sandpoint
3A: Sugar-Salem vs. Homedale
2A: Firth vs. North Fremont
1AD1: Butte County vs. Oakley
Let’s get started.
Rigby at Meridian • 7 p.m. Friday • Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
This may be Rigby’s stiffest test yet. This season, the Trojans have taken down 5A powers Highland and Capital, the latter last week in the quarterfinals, but the Warriors represent something different — a 5A power, rolling with momentum.
Last week, Meridian took down Mountain View, turning a showdown of two of the state’s top teams into a 35-6 blowout. The Warriors forced a jarring six turnovers (double the Mavericks’ season total to that point) and reeled off 35 unanswered points, running away with a blowout few saw coming.
So for Rigby, the challenge will be finding ways to score on the state’s best scoring defense in Meridian, which allows just 11 points per game. The good news for the Trojans is that they have experience doing similar things, like hanging 44 on Highland and 41 on Capital. Few teams have been able to stop the Trojans’ scoring attack, which is made possible by playmakers like quarterback Tiger Adolpho, running back Zheik Falevai, receiver Taylor Freeman and a defensive unit that has given up 20-plus points just twice this season.
All year, Rigby coach Armando Gonzalez has stressed one thing to his players: Our goal isn’t to win state. The team’s goals, Gonzalez says, are to win the conference (check), beat Madison (no check) and start winning in the playoffs (check — so far). Winning the whole thing, he says, will be a byproduct of the team reaching its potential. It’s time for the Trojans to take their skipper’s message to heart.
Skyline vs. Pocatello • 8 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena • Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
If nothing else, this Skyline and Pocatello matchup bears interest on one front: How will the Grizzlies’ defense fare against the Thunder’s offense?
All season, Skyline’s defense has anchored the team, keeping games close while the offense figures things out. That hasn’t come entirely as a surprise — the Grizzlies lost three key players to graduation last spring — but the defense really has been a boon for these guys. They’ve generated pressure up front, made key tackles and, with a secondary that plays almost exclusively man coverage, discouraged opposing quarterbacks from throwing deep.
Keeping that rolling this week will be a test for Skyline. The group will have to do so against Pocatello, which rosters playmakers like quarterback Ryan Payne, running back Ryken Echo Hawk and receiver Matt Christensen, the group that has helped the Thunder average 33 points per game this season.
Skyline is looking to advance to the state championship game for the second straight season. All the Grizzlies will need to do is top an upstart Thunder club.
Blackfoot at Sandpoint • 8 p.m. MT Friday • Video on spbulldogs.com, audio on Idaho Sports
Good luck finding someone who finds Blackfoot’s season surprising. All year, those in the program and out have been cognizant of the Broncos’ talented roster, albeit their sub-.500 record headed into the playoffs, which is why their spot in the 4A semis doesn’t come as a shocker.
Beating Sandpoint, on the other hand, might register as a surprise. The Bulldogs, who haven’t lost since September, are riding a six-game winning streak. Last week, Sandpoint scored less than 28 points for the first time since its last loss, thanks in large part to junior quarterback Parker Pettit, who completes about 59% of his passes and has thrown 14 touchdowns (to just four interceptions).
So on Friday night, you hear that Blackfoot upset Sandpoint, it will likely be because the Broncos’ slowed down the Bulldogs’ potent offense assault.
Sugar-Salem at Homedale • 1 p.m. Saturday • Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
It’s funny how the playoffs work sometimes. Last season, Sugar-Salem clipped Homedale in the 3A state title game, good for the program’s third straight championship. Now, the teams meet again, this time in the semifinals.
Last week, the Trojans had to overcome a slow start to remain unbeaten. Down 10-0 to South Fremont after one, Homedale scored on a touchdown rush from Hayden Kincheloe, who totaled four scores in the win, racking up 24 carries for 256 yards. From there, the Trojans cruised to another victory.
That’s who Sugar-Salem would be wise to key on this week. The Diggers are allowing just six points per game over their last four contests, all wins, so they’re in good position to do so. Whether they get it done will unfold on Saturday afternoon.
Firth at North Fremont • 1 p.m. Saturday • Video on Idaho Sports
To say Firth and North Fremont have history would be to make a massive understatement.
Just within the last two years, the clubs have clashed three times. The Huskies have won two — by an average margin of eight — but the Cougars’ one win came in last year’s playoffs. Just this season, North Fremont clipped Firth in the 2A District 6 title game, 22-21. If anything separates these squads, it’s not much.
The Huskies got here by winning a 44-38 decision over Melba, the Cougars by escaping Holt Arena with a 20-16 over Declo. Surprise, surprise: even both teams’ previous wins were similar.
Firth is trying to avenge last season’s loss in the 2A state title game, while North Fremont is trying to make up for the fact they didn’t advance that far — thanks to a loss to Firth. If there’s one matchup to keep an eye on this weekend, make it this one, a rivalry meeting in the 2A semifinals.
Butte County vs. Oakley • 4 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena • Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
Last week, after his team downed Notus in the quarterfinals, Butte County coach Sam Thorngren thought about the win and what it meant moving forward. “You go through the playoffs, at some point,” he said, “you’re probably going to run into an Oakley or a Prairie or Raft.”
Thorngren knew what he was talking about. His Butte County club gets Oakley in this week’s 1AD1 semifinals, matching up with a Hornets group that is one of the classification’s best.
To make this game happen, Oakley torched Genesee in the quarterfinals, 80-36, which was the Hornets’ fourth time in five games scoring 60-plus points. Butte County got here by opening up a rout over Notus, 42-12.
Oakley actually beat Butte County in last season’s quarterfinals. For the Pirates to exact revenge, they will likely have to slow a Hornet offense that has looked untouchable lately.