Challis High School’s Cooper Erickson flies above two Watersprings Warriors when tackled in a game last October.

Consider this.

Challis lost two games by a total of eight points in 2018.

Those two losses came in conference play against state runner-up Oakley and state champion Valley.

At 7-2, Challis didn't even make the 1A Division I state bracket — despite routing state qualifier Raft River 49-20 in Malta.

But you won't hear anyone up Challis way fermenting grapes over the 2018 season.

Because boys in Challis are raised to know that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose -- but you never, ever whine.

"A lot of these kids do rodeo, and they know the difference between an injury and a hurt," first-year head coach Bill Bradshaw said. "They can get back up, rub some dirt in it as they say, grin at you, and keep going."

The Vikings will keep going without 11 graduating seniors from 2018, and only senior Bruin Bradshaw returns with any significant varsity experience.

In addition, the Vikings will be without former head coach T.T. Cain who led Challis for four years before leaving the area.

Those things are hurts, to be sure. And Bradshaw and his staff are ready with the dirt.

"We have a group of 18 this year who are probably bigger and faster than we have been in a while, just without the experience," Bradshaw said. "We're going to try to be a power football team again, and I think we can do that with our size and our speed."

Bradshaw, who served as an assistant for each of the past six seasons, knows his roster up and down.

He is looking for big things out of sophomore R.J. Phelps, as well as from senior Isaac Schwenke, who measures in at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.

In addition to Bruin Bradshaw and Schwenke, Challis has seniors in Austin Ollar, Austin Anderson, Kasen Hohnstein and Brandon Tamayo.

Whether those six seniors can lead Challis to the state bracket is yet to be seen, but they are sure to grin at you and keep going regardless.

"These boys have been around good teams here at Challis, and know what success looks like," Bradshaw said. "We're not many but we hope we're mighty."


Coach: Bill Bradshaw, 1st season

Last year: 7-2, missed playoffs

Returning starters: Offense 1, Defense 1

Impact players: Bruin Bradshaw, Sr., RB/LB; Isaac Schwenke, Sr., RB/LB; R.J. Phelps, Soph., RB/DE.


Sept. 6 vs. Grace, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 vs. North Gem, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 vs. Oakley, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 vs. Raft River, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs. Clark-Watersprings, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Glenns Ferry, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Carey, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Valley, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. Butte County, 7 p.m. at Mackay


Yeah, you read that right.

The Lost Rivers Pirates.

No more Mackay Miners. No more Butte County Pirates.

The two are now one, meshed together like piles of Orange and Red Play-Doh.

Blended like the electric levels of a late summer sunset hanging over the Idaho desert.

A brand new team for a brand new time.

Lost. Rivers. Pirates.

"This co-op has been interesting," Pirates' coach Sam Thorngren said. "The kids took right to it. The old timers were a little different."

And you can hardly blame them.

The annual battle between Mackay and Butte County was a cross-generational blood feud with the very honor of Custer and Butte Counties on the line.

Less so today, however.

"We have to rise above those biases and come together," Thorngren said. "These boys played together in Grid Kid growing up, so today there's a different dynamic."

The two teams combined to go 6-7 in 2018, and Mackay made it all the way to the second round of the state playoffs.

With only seven boys out this fall, Mackay was not in a position to field a football team.

Together with their new Arco brothers, the Lost Rivers Pirates comprise what Watersprings Christian coach Chris Strahm calls a "super team."

"These kids like each other," Thorngren said. They're working hard, and I think our fans should be excited."

Returning on the line are Bubba Gunter, Dakota Anderson and Logan Romrell — all seniors and all multiple-year starters on both sides of the ball. Add to that Mackay's Ruger Stamos and Kolton Holt (6-foot-5, 290-pounds), and the Lost Rivers Pirates are expected to push some lines around.

"The advantage of those guys is they are big and quick and can pull," Thorngren said. "Defensively that depth will give us a chance to have a rotation and keep people fresh."

Bridger Hansen will line up behind center for the Pirates, and Keyan Cummins will start a third-straight years as one of the team's home run hitters.

Then there's Brady McAffee, Sage Cummins, Jacoda Whitworth and Sereck Peterson -- the list goes on and on.

It's a list of 37 players with 16 upperclassmen. Super Team indeed.

"Were going to be a tough out," Thorngren said. "And if we can stay healthy, it's scary to think what we could be by the end of the year."


Last year: 6-11 (combined)

Returning starters: Offense: 8-plus; Defense: 8-plus.

Impact players: Bubba Gunter, Sr. OL/DL; Dakota Anderson, Sr. OL/DL; Logan Romrell, Sr. OL/DL; Ruger Stanos, Sr. OL/DL; Kolton Holt, jr, Sr. OL/DL; Bridger Hansen, Sr. QB/DB; Sage Cummins, Sr., WR/DB; Sereck Peterson, Sr., TE/DE.


Aug. 30 vs. Clark-Watersprings, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Glenns Ferry, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 vs. North Gem, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs. Oakley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Grace, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Raft River, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. Challis, 7 p.m. at Mackay

1A Division II


In their first season as a co-op football program, Clark-Watersprings cruised to a 7-3 record and a run all the way to the state quarterfinals.

In 2018 — not so much.

Winless over five games in 2018, Clark-Watersprings fell victim to one of those upperclassmen vacuums that are so common in 1A football.

That vacuum, as well as a number of injuries led to the following starting lineup last season — one senior, six sophomores and one freshman.

"Some of these teams we play that have rosters in the mid 20s and 30s," second-year Clark-Watersprings coach Chris Strahm said. "It was tough for us at times to compete with just 12."

Back to anchor the line in his final season, Cayben Jahn will be the lone senior in the trenches for Clark-Watersprings.

Looking to run behind the Jahn push are running back Matt Almgren and quarterback Brayden Remer, a pair coach Strahm will lean on for both leadership and experience.

"Matt had another solid year in the weight room, and is a speedster we are going to see a lot of," Strahm said. "Brayden got knocked around a bit, and learned to pick himself off the ground pretty well last year. That type of shell shock is enough to keep most from coming back. Not Brayden."

Clark-Watersprings will run much the same scheme on offense as in 2018, and will try to use more lateral movement to force teams out of the box to make tackles.

On defense, coach Strahm hopes to ride last year's trial by fire to a greater understanding of reads out of his 4-3-1 and 3-3 defenses.

"This year should be a different story," he said. "The camaraderie is up, and where we had three or four in the weight room, this year we had a solid eight."

Part of that camaraderie comes from an interesting mixture of Clark County's rural influence alongside Watersprings "big city" boys.

"Those Clark County kids bring that grit and a tough mentality with them to practice," Strahm said. "We've been out flipping tractor tires and things like that as part of our workouts, and it couldn't be better."


Last year: 0-5, missed playoffs

Returning starters: Offense 7, Defense 7

Impact players: Matt Almgren, Jr., RB/LB; Cayben Jahn, Sr., OL/DL; Brayden Remer, Jr., QB.


*home games at Watersprings unless otherwise denoted

Aug. 30 at Butte County, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Richfield, 6 p.m.

Sept. 13 vs. Raft River, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 vs. Sho-Ban, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Challis, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at North Gem, 4 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. Sho-Ban, 3:30 p.m. at Dubois

Oct. 25 at Rockland, 4 p.m.