There are plenty of candidates for game of the week (excluding the Emotion Bowl) but let’s take a look at what’s going on in the Nuclear League.
Game of the Week
North Fremont, defending 2A state finalist and current No. 1 in the state media poll, takes on an upstart Salmon team that is also unbeaten at 4-0 under first-year coach Tyrell Penner.
It’s the first conference game for both teams, but the winner could be in the driver’s seat in the Nuclear race. Ririe suffered its first loss of the season last week, but also opens conference play against Firth.
But a month into the season, Salmon has been the new challenger.
“This year we’re staying healthy and playing football,” Penner said, noting it’s been a few years since Salmon even had a winning season.
North Fremont has been a tough running team with a solid line and comes off a 20-6 victory over Soda Springs.
Penner said the matchup to watch could be North Fremont’s defensive line against Salmon’s offensive line.
“We have a great group of juniors and seniors,” Penner said, noting the play of slot receiver Brax Kauffman and quarterback Dillon Pilkerton “They’ve bought in.”
Rigby and Madison have had a spirited rivalry, but it’s been a bit one-sided of late, Trojans’ coach Armando Gonzalez said, noting that his team has yet to beat the Bobcats during his tenure.
If Rigby hopes to end the streak, the Trojans will need to contain Madison’s Easton Cordero, a dual-threat quarterback who’s thrown for seven touchdowns and also run for three.
“We have to limit the plays he makes,” Gonzalez said.
The return of Tanoa Togiai should help. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, Togiai was supposed to be a force on both the offensive and defensive lines for Rigby. But an injury slowed him during the early part of the season and he’s expected to focus on the defensive side of the ball for now, Gonzalez said.
Sophomores Kannon Koster and Damian Morales have both stepped up to start on the right side of the offensive line.
Thunder Ridge is 2-2, its two victories coming against 4A teams Bonneville and Idaho Falls.
Now the fun begins.
The Titans head to Kuna on Friday, to play the No. 1 4A team in the state media poll. Then they begin 5A District 5-6 conference play at Highland, before playing Rigby and Hillcrest.
Moving day for the Tigers
This week’s ruling that Idaho Falls will have to move up to Class 5A beginning next season presents several challenges for the athletic department.
As the Tigers compete in their final 4A season, Athletic Director Pat Lloyd noted just the travel in 5A will be an adjustment.
“With the 4A schedule you have four schools that are in and around Idaho Falls that you play,” he said. “They were all conference games, now we’re going to have to travel more to compete at the 5A level.”
The 5A District 5-6 conference does have an in-town team in Thunder Ridge, but Madison, Highland and Rigby will require bus rides.
Most under-the-radar team?
Could it be Blackfoot? The Broncos are 3-1 and already have a win in the 4A District 6 conference. This week's conference matchup with Hillcrest should be telling. The Knights are coming off a thrilling Civil War victory over Bonneville and the Broncos survived an ugly 9-3 win against Thunder Ridge. Hillcrest is 2-0 in conference. The winner of this game should establish itself as the frontrunner in conference, although Skyline plays its first conference game on Friday against Idaho Falls.
Someone should come up with a name for that rivalry game.