If you ask any of the four head coaches in the 3A Mountain Rivers Conference which district is the toughest in the state the answer is unanimous, their own.

“Our league is the toughest in the state, no question,” Shelley coach Jake Monahan said. “From top to bottom our league is tough. We have four good teams and 90% of the time the at-large berth at state is coming from this district.”

Sugar-Salem coach Tyler Richins echoed a similar sentiment as Monahan.

“For the first six weeks last season we had three teams that were undefeated,” Richins said. “Week in and week out you are going to get a tough game.”

Shelley came up just short of an undefeated season and a state title in a loss to Fruitland and must replace do-everything quarterback Bryon Leckington. Monahan’s Russets are loaded with talent and will use new quarterback Jake Wray and all-state receiver Mason Price to keep rolling along.

Up in St. Anthony head coach Chad Hill and the Cougars are coming off a 9-2 season and looking to build on that success. The Cougars are loaded on both sides of the ball and quarterback Reece Yancey and his knowledge of the team’s offense will be.

Richins is going to have a young team as just eight seniors will be on the 2017 roster. But don’t let the youth fool you, the boys from Sugar City are going into the season confident.

“We are taking week by week,” Richins said. “A district title is well within our reach. We expect to be successful every time we take the field.”

Teton struggled in 2016, finishing with a 2-7 record. But the three other coaches in the league each said to watch out for the Redskins.

“Brody (head coach Brody Birch) has a talented group,” Richins said. “Any given week they could come in and win, my team knows this, and I would be the rest of the league does too.”

Shelley Russets

Coach: Jake Monahan, third season

Last year: 11-1, lost to Fruitland 35-28 in state championship game

Returning starters: six on offense, six on defense

Impact players: Senior wide receiver Mason Price, junior receiver Brandon McBride, quarterback Jake Wray.

Keys to success: Use the field on both sides of the ball. The biggest key is to stay healthy.

Schedule:

8/25: vs. Green Canyon (UT) at Holt Arena (8:30 p.m.)

9/1: vs. Snake River (7 p.m.)

9/8: at Canyon Ridge (7 p.m.)

9/15: at Preston (7p.m.)

9/22: vs. Filer (7 p.m.)

10/6: vs. Teton (7 p.m.)

10/13: at South Fremont (7 p.m.)

10/19: at Sugar-Salem (7 p.m.)

Sugar-Salem Diggers

Coach: Tyler Richins, fourth year

Last year: 6-3, lost to Shelley 44-28 in first round of playoffs

Returning starters: four on offense, five on defense

Impact players: Junior running back Kyle Ostermiller, junior linebacker Brady Blaser, senior safety Dylan Pope.

Keys to success: Mature week by week and play its best football when the conference schedule rolls around.

Schedule:

8/25: vs. Declo (7 p.m.)

9/1: vs. Jackson (WY) (7 p.m.

9/8: at Snake River (7 p.m.)

9/15: at Marsh Valley (7 p.m.)

9/29: at Jerome (7 p.m.)

10/6: vs. South Fremont (7 p.m.)

10/13: at Teton (7 p.m.)

10/19: vs. Shelley (7 p.m.)

South Fremont Cougars

Coach: Chad Hill, sixth season

Last year: 9-2, lost to Kimberly 39-36 in state quarterfinals

Returning starters: Three on offense, five on defense

Impact players: Senior quarterback Reece Yancey, senior WR/DB Steve Zundel, senior RB/DB Daniel Coverly.

Keys to success: Getting better each week with the offensive line and get good senior leadership.

Schedule:

8/25: vs. Gooding (7 p.m.)

9/1: at West Jefferson (7 p.m.)

9/8: vs. Bear Lake (7 p.m.)

9/15: at Firth (7 p.m.)

9/22: vs. Snake River (7 p.m.)

9/29: vs. Marsh Valley (7 p.m.)

10/6: at Sugar-Salem (7 p.m.)

10/13: vs. Shelley (7 p.m.)

10/19: at Teton (7 p.m.)

Teton Redskins

Coach: Brody Birch, 14th season

Last year: 2-7

Returning starters: seven on offense, eight on defense

Impact players: Senior RB/LB Coleby Hess, senior OL Chad LaRose, OL Tegan Kersley.

Keys to success: Stay healthy, execute on both sides of the ball and be ready for conference play.

Schedule:

8/25: at Jackson (WY) (7 p.m.)

9/1: vs. North Fremont (7 p.m.)

9/8: at West Jefferson (7 p.m.)

9/15: at Salmon (7 p.m.)

9/22: at Declo (7 p.m.)

9/29: vs. Snake River (7 p.m.)

10/6: at Shelley (7 p.m.)

10/13: vs. Sugar-Salem (7 p.m.)

10/19: vs. South Fremont (7 p.m.)

District 5

Snake River Panthers

Coach: Jeb Harrison, second season

Last year: 4-5, lost to Fruitland 49-8 in state quarterfinals

Returning starters: five on offense, five on defense

Impact players: senior OL/MLB James Clegg, senior RB/LB Ceaton Howell

Keys to success: To put more pressure on the opposing quarterback and to play better coverage in the secondary. The offense needs to improve and be more balanced.

Schedule:

8/25: vs. Blackfoot (7 p.m.)

9/1: at Shelley (7 p.m.)

9/8: vs. Sugar-Salem (7 p.m.)

9/22: at South Fremont (7 p.m.)

9/29: at Teton (7 p.m.)

10/6: at Marsh Valley (7 p.m.)

10/13: vs. American Falls (7 p.m.)

10/20: vs. Preston (7 p.m.)