Skyline vs Thunder

Skyline’s Braden Owens blocks a pass intended for Thunder Ridge’s Dutch Driggs during a game at Ravsten Stadium earlier this season.

It’s the halfway point of the high school football season and time to see what we’ve learned so far in 2020.

It might be hard to whittle it down to a Top-5 list, but here we go.

Eastern Idaho teams are still scrambling to deal with COVID-19, but the impact on Friday nights has been relatively mild so far.

Relatively is the key word because players have become sick and games have been canceled. Fears of an overall shutdown of sports like the one that ended the spring seasons seem to have eased a bit. Cautious optimism seems to be the prevailing attitude going forward.

However, that optimism is tempered by reality. The pandemic is still raging across the state and for anyone who’s attended a game, the lack of face coverings and social distancing is still alarming.

“This is a cliché, but it’s literally day-to-day with this thing,” one coach said recently.

Defense!

Speaking of cliches, someone once uttered the timeless gem that defense wins championships. That’s probably true of any sport at any level, but the 4A District 6 Conference has taken it to heart. The top two contenders so far – Skyline and Blackfoot – lead the conference in fewest points allowed at 14.2 and 14.6 respectively.

Skyline already has a head-to-head advantage over Blackfoot with its 14-3 win two weeks ago. The conference title and top seed could be determined by that game.

What a difference a year makes

A year ago, the Lost River Pirates were riding high as an unbeaten co-op between rivals Mackay and Butte County. The team advanced to the 1AD1 state title game and was one of the feel-good stories of last season.

This year, with both schools fielding their own teams, the result has been a complete turnaround.

At least for Mackay.

The Miners started their season in quarantine after a player tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of practice. Mackay finally got to play its first game two weeks ago, but injuries to two players forced the team to cancel its season.

Butte County is playing in the new three-team High Desert Conference and at 2-1, is receiving votes in the state media poll.

Nuclear Conference showdown

North Fremont continues to be the team to beat in the Nuclear Conference, but Firth and Ririe are right behind.

The Cougars and Bulldogs face off Friday in a big conference matchup. Ririe is 1-0 in conference, while this will be the conference opener for Firth.

Also of note, West Jefferson was winless a year ago but enters the bye week 2-3 overall and comes off a tough 40-24 loss to North Fremont.

Emotion Bowl update

The 56th Emotion Bowl between Idaho Falls and Skyline is Oct. 10 at 4 p.m.

The ticketing process is different this year.

From Skyline: Vouchers are required for stadium seating ticket purchase. Those are distributed to parents of players, cheer, and band first. Remaining vouchers are distributed through students during the week. Any leftover vouchers will be available to the community on Friday, Oct. 9 in the office of each school at 8 a.m. Tickets will go on sale at 2 p.m. at Ravsten Stadium Saturday October 10. There will be no presale of stadium seating tickets.

Masks and social distancing are required.

Allan Steele is Sports Editor of the Post Register. Reach him at 208 542-6772 and follow on Twitter at asteele12000