The quarterfinal round of the high school football playoffs is upon us, so it's time to break down each matchup in District 6 — all nine of them. In here, you'll find game time, location and broadcast information for each game. Let's get started.
Capital at Rigby // 7 p.m. Friday // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
It might feel weird to read, but Rigby will enter its 5A playoff opener fresh off a loss, which came against Madison two weeks ago. It was the Trojans’ only loss, but the good news for them is that they held on to the East No. 1 seed, which is why they earned a first-round bye.
For Rigby, the tougher news is that the team will remain without linebacker Logan Fredericksen and cornerback Zxaeb Falevai, who sustained injuries late in the regular season that will sideline them for most of the playoffs, if not the rest of the season.
To fortify its defense, Rigby will try to get the most out of sophomore Reggie Groom, Coleman Lords (who plays primarily on offense) and sophomore Robby Boone. That’s who the Trojans will rely on to prevent Capital quarterback Max Clark from connecting with receivers like Nate Cherry, Ethan Castillo and Brody Call, which is the recipe Madison used to topple Rigby.
“We’re going to have to figure out, in two weeks,” Rigby coach Armando Gonzalez said earlier this season, “the guy that can execute the best and play the majority of the downs for us in the playoff games.”
At any rate, this is what Rigby has loaded up all season for. The Trojans fell in last season’s state title game. Ever since, they’ve been mowing teams down (with the exception of Madison), determined to avenge last season’s loss. For Rigby, the journey starts Friday night against Capital, which finished 3-2 in a loaded Southern Idaho Conference and used a win over Lewiston last week to advance to the quarterfinals.
Shelley at Sandpoint // 7 p.m. MT, 8 p.m. PDT Friday // Audio on Idaho Sports
Shelley is having one of its best seasons in recent memory. The Russets came a game away from winning a share of the conference title, made the playoffs, beat Preston (a second time this season) in the opening round and now they’re onto the quarterfinals.
This will be their task yet. This week, Shelley will visit Sandpoint, the top-ranked team in these 4A playoffs and the owners of a five-game winning streak — which dates back to September. The Bulldogs haven’t scored less than 28 points since their last loss, thanks in large part to junior quarterback Parker Pettit, who completes about 59% of his passes and has thrown 13 touchdowns (to just three interceptions).
But Shelley’s offense is also designed to keep other team’s offenses off the field. The Russets like to engineer long, sustained drives that force opponents to make the most of their own offensive series — who knows how many they will get? That’s where playmakers like quarterback Brecker Williams, Ryker Clinger and Kaden Kidman come in.
This game may well come down to whether Shelley can get stops against Pettit and Co., and whether the Russets’ offense can stay on the field long enough to force the Bulldogs into fewer offensive chances.
Nampa at Blackfoot // 7 p.m. Friday // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
Last week, Blackfoot proved to the state what some had doubted: the Broncos are for real.They may be only 5-5, but thanks to several losses by razor-thin margins, they’re much better than that record may indicate. So last week, all Blackfoot did was thrash Middleton 52-24, moving onto the quarterfinals with ease.
Things only get harder from here, though. This week, Blackfoot gets the challenge of slowing down Nampa and its scintillating offense, which has scored 35-plus points in each of its last five games, including two 50-point outings. In the Bulldogs’ opening-round win over Emmett last week, tailbacks Ryan Schuler (10 carries for 134 yards) and Daniel Carrillo (27 carries for 56 yards) did most of the legwork.
Blackfoot does have the athletes to match — namely quarterback Jaxon Grimmett, running back Austin Ramirez and receivers Ja’Vonte King and Deegan Hale — but the onus may be on defenders like Hale, Eli Ambercrombie, and William Karpstein to slow down an offense that hasn’t hit many snags this year.
Skyline vs. Vallivue // 7 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
The funny thing about Skyline’s opening-round win over Lakeland last week is that after the first quarter, the Grizzlies looked about an hour away from winter, inching toward the offseason in a miserable offensive showing. Instead, Skyline awoke from its slumber and reeled off 42 unanswered points to move onto the quarterfinals, where the Grizzlies get Vallivue in Pocatello.
Last week, Falcons quarterback Casey Cope led an upset win over Minico, which had maintained Class 4A’s top ranking in the media poll for most of the regular season. Vallivue may hold the No. 14 seed, but the club has won three of its last four.
Skyline playmakers like Lachlan Haacke, Abrahn Silverio and Kenyon Sadiq get the challenge of ending that streak. If last week is any indication — the way they engineered a quick comeback and then a lot more — they’ll be back for seconds.
Sugar-Salem vs. Marsh Valley // 7 p.m. Thursday at Holt Arena // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
In a unique twist, Sugar-Salem will open its run in the 3A playoffs against a team it’s already seen this season.
Back on Sept. 17, Sugar-Salem topped Marsh Valley 28-14, which is right about the time when the Diggers started looking like the Diggers again. Before that, Sugar-Salem was trying to recover from an 0-2 start, which happens about as often as seeing a shooting star. But since that win over the Eagles, the Diggers haven’t lost.
For Sugar-Salem, though, this isn’t just about beating Marsh Valley again. The Diggers are trying to win their fourth straight 3A state title. They aren’t there yet, but beating the Eagles a second time would be a good start.
South Fremont at Homedale // 1 p.m. Saturday // Video on NFHS Network
South Fremont has had something like an elevator season. Uuuuuup then dooooooown. The Cougars won their first three games of the season. Then they lost their next four. Now, they’ve won two straight, including last week’s playoff opener against Kellogg.
Homedale won’t be like any of those teams, though. The Trojans will take their spotless 9-0 record into this one, and that record includes wins over clubs like Weiser and Sandpoint, which proves this season has been far from a fluke. Last week, Homedale rolled over Fruitland, 35-0. The Trojans haven’t allowed more than one score in a game since that win over Sandpoint.
That’s why South Fremont quarterback Kaimen Peebles might need to have one of his better games if the Cougars are to take down the Trojans. Not many teams have been able to slow down the Homedale offense, which has posted 49-plus points in all but two games this year, but maybe South Fremont can pull the upset if its offense can go blow-to-blow with Homedale’s.
Declo at Firth // 8:15 p.m. Friday at Holt Arena // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
For Firth, the best part about this second-round matchup is the way the club will enter it.
The Cougars took down Aberdeen in last week’s playoff opener, 43-8, and convincingly so. Sam Park carried 12 times for 75 yards and five scores for the Cougars, who scored 36 unanswered to cruise to the win. Firth was never in any real danger of dropping that one.
Instead, the Cougars will now turn their attention to Declo, which has lost two of its last three. The Hornets did get a first-round bye, though. So they might enter fresher, but the Cougars will enter hotter.
Melba at North Fremont // 1 p.m. Saturday // Video on Idaho Sports
North Fremont’s best asset headed into the quarterfinals might be the way its last few weeks have gone. Most importantly, the Huskies earned a first-round bye, so they haven’t played in two weeks. Even their last game was crucial, a one-point win over Firth for the district crown.
Now, though, the Huskies will really have to work to keep their unbeaten record alive.
Melba got here by topping West Jefferson in the first round, 18-12, and now the Mustangs have won six of their last seven. Last week, Melba quarterback passed for 225 yards and a score, Trace Stimpson carded 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground and Dillon Stosich hauled in four receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown.
That’s who North Fremont will have to stop to move on to the semifinals. Fortunately for the Huskies, they haven’t yielded more than 21 points in any of their last four contests.
Notus at Butte County // 4 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena // Video on NFHS Network, audio on Idaho Sports
Good luck finding a big difference between Notus and Butte County. Both enter this 1AD1 quarterfinal contest with one-loss records. Both won their respective conferences. For both, that loss was early in the season, and both earned first-round byes. Oh, and both are the Pirates.
All of that makes this matchup intriguing. Butte County hasn’t played since Oct. 22, when it topped Grace, and Notus hasn’t been in action since the same day, when it earned a win over Wilder.
Eventually, something will have to separate these teams. Whatever it is, it will surface Saturday afternoon in Pocatello.