The new kid in town is finally getting noticed.
Thunder Ridge went 0-9 in its inaugural season a year ago, but has already reached an impressive milestone through the first three weeks of 2019.
Not only did the Titans pick up a load of confidence after beating Bonneville in the season opener, coach Jeff Marshall said, their wild 48-34 comeback win over Idaho Falls on Friday at home was another step in the program’s evolution.
While a 2-1 start against area 4A teams might not instill fear in the established 5A programs that Thunder Ridge will have to compete against, any progress is good news for players who pushed through a winless season a year ago.
“Being able to come back from being down a couple of touchdowns, hopefully that adds to the confidence level,” Marshall said. “Just having that belief means quite a bit.”
The duo of Tao Johnson and Kaysen Isom proved nearly unstoppable on Friday, with Johnson passing for 342 yards with a pair of touchdowns and also rushing for 97 yards and a score.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore has been mature beyond his years, Marshall said.
“Normally that would weigh on you,” Marshall said of starting a youngster at quarterback. “But he’s a pretty mature kid. He’s a student of the game, he’s very athletic and he understands what we’re trying to do.”
With Idaho Falls loading up the box to stop the run, the game plan Marshall said was to throw the ball as much as possible. Johnson was efficient, connecting on 27 of 36 passes, must under 10 yards. But Idaho Falls’ running game was even better, with Spencer Moore pounding the Titan defense for 235 yards on 30 carries to go with five touchdowns as I.F. took a 34-20 lead in the closing minutes of the third quarter.
But the rest of the second half belonged to Isom, who caught a 60-yard touchdown from Johnson near the end of the third quarter, and then exploded for three rushing scores in the fourth as the Titans pulled ahead and eventually sealed the 48-34 victory.
“I told them in the locker room that in the second half we need to work harder,” said Isom, who finished with 106 yards rushing, 124 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
Thunder Ridge hosts Blackfoot on Friday.
Blackfoot 21, Bonneville 14: In a tight first half, Blackfoot got on the board first behind the running of Teegan Thomas, but then the Broncos defense gave up some long pass plays and the Bees held a 14-7 lead as time wound down in the second quarter. Blackfoot quarterback Jace Grimmett found wide receiver Reece Robinson in the end zone from 30 yards out for a score with 26 seconds to go before half to tie the game at 14-14.
Blackfoot got the go-ahead touchdown and held on for the win.
Fred Davis/Bingham County Chronicle
Snake River 28, Firth 19: Well, the young — and when your roster is dominated by freshmen and sophomores, you are definitely young — Firth Cougars couldn’t have cared about how many championships Snake River had won over the years.
Firth trailed 20-19 and was driving deep into Panther territory, but was stalled by a turnover.
Snake River quarterback Mitch Lindsay scored from a yard out with 4:04 left in the game to give the Panthers a 26-19 lead and sophomore quarterback Cole Gilbert was able to tack on a two-point conversion and the game was basically sealed at 28-19.
Fred Davis/Bingham County Chronicle
South Fremont 14, Bear Lake 0: For the second week in a row, South Fremont’s defense excelled, and in a defensive battle against Bear Lake, it made the difference.
“It was a pretty physical game,” South Fremont coach Chad Hill said. “We kind of had some chances but we couldn’t finish drives but our defense stepped up tonight and played really well.”
Both of South Fremont’s scores came in the first half as Jace Neville scored on a 5-yard run and Bridger Poulsen ran back a fumble recovery for a 31-yard touchdown.
Koster Kennard/Standard Journal