The 2018 Titans finished how they started — with a blowout loss at a place called Thunder.
The Thunder Ridge High School football team opened the season with a 48-7 loss to Bonneville at Thunder Stadium, and were similarly blown out 40-6 by Hillcrest on Friday at Thunder Ridge, closing their inaugural season winless over nine games.
Like the loss to Bonneville, much of the second half Friday was played under mercy-rule conditions with a running clock.
But somewhere between that loss to Bonneville and Friday’s loss to Hillcrest, the Titans found an identity.
Found with some help from John Denver, rolling home singing “Country Roads.”
“Yeah, we love that song,” Thunder Ridge senior defensive lineman and former Hillcrest player Tyler Shepherd said. “We started singing it coming home from Madison, I think. We stuffed them in the second half, and then there was Country Roads.
“It’s been a blast this season. I’d go back and do the same thing again.”
Comprised primarily of players from the 2017 Bonneville and Hillcrest teams, the 5A Titans struggled to scrabble together much on either side of the ball.
Most of their games ended under the running clock, and entering Friday’s loss to the Knights, Thunder Ridge had been outscored by an average of 47-9.
Thunder Ridge struggled to run the ball, finishing with negative five rushing yards overall. Senior quarterback Dalton Cook did throw for 189, getting the Titans’ lone score with one minute left in the game.
Hillcrest only completed one pass on the night, getting five of its six touchdowns on rushing plays from seniors Oakley Hussey and Trae Henry.
Hussey scored on runs of six and three yards, and Henry scored on three of his five rushes, getting TDs on runs of four, 48 and 53 yards.
“We have played some really good teams so far this season, and we are ready for every week,” Henry said. “We are working great together, and like any team, are dealing with injuries. State is next week, and I think we are ready."
The top-ranked and district champion Knights (8-1) will open the playoffs Friday at Thunder Stadium against Sandpoint.
“We don’t really think about one team or another so much,” senior lineman Dakota Yorgesen said. “We just want to come out and pummel people every week, no matter who it is. We just want to come out and send a message early, and that’s what we want to do again next week.”