Riverside, Deer Park, Lakeside
Football has come full circle for two small north county high schools.
Riverside has outgrown the Northeast A League and has joined the Frontier, the league in which Deer Park resided before dropping down to the Northeast A.
But the rivalry remains strong between neighboring teams who open the season at Deer Park in a non-league test Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“When we were in the Frontier League and they were in the NEA it was a big rivalry then,” said Deer Park coach Bryan Frost. “It’s always a big game. The schools are only seven miles apart and the kids know each other.”
“We want to keep it for tradition. It’s a close game and a good gate,” said Riverside coach Allen Martin.
It will be the featured game of the week for the North Side’s three smaller football schools, pitting two of the area’s better quarterbacks against each other.
Lakeside, like Riverside a state A playoff team last year, opens at Kellogg, Idaho.
Rams testing uncharted waters
Following two successive league titles and a State A championship two years ago, Riverside is venturing into the unknown.
“The prospect going in hasn’t bothered me at all,” said Martin. “Most of us are looking forward to it. What I’m concerned about is that we’ve had two good classes graduate and have young kids to replace them with.”
Most notable is the line where junior center Jason Vanderholm, guards Bobby Finch, Charlie Herman and Brandon Hayes are all new.
They, along with returning tackle Scott Ellsworth and junior tight end Micah Lundberg will block for an experienced backfield. All but Finch weigh between 235 and 245 pounds.
“We’re not really fast but we’re big,” said Martin. “We’ll see if we can push some bodies around.”
Quarterback Joel Schurtz is in his third year and will be joined by Jared Hansen at tailback, Matt Morin at fullback and a trio of receivers, all-state kicker Ryan Baker, Chris Koesel and Randy Downing.
“Any of five receivers can catch the ball,” said Martin. “You’ll see us throw more than we have.”
Most all will play on defense. Others figuring to play are junior defensive back-quarterback Joe Beckham, senior nose guard Dan Kruger, and defensive back Steve Patterson.
Young Eagles starting over
After building his program into a state playoff qualifier last year, Lakeside Coach Glen Payne is beginning again.
But not at ground zero.
“We are extremely young,” he said. “But we have some really talented kids, particularly at the skill positions, and nice, rangy young linemen who are going to be outstanding.”
One constant is kicker Ryan Chicoine who will put the majority of his kickoffs into the end zone, averages 40 yards per punt and has 50-yard field goal range.
“We are not starting where we were a few years ago,” said Payne. “We’re just short on seniors.”
Junior quarterback George Petticrew has already proved himself in two other sports. Junior starter Tai Saito moves to tailback and his replacement at wingback is sophomore Jason Downie. Eric Dean is the senior fullback.
Receiver Jason Christen is also a sophomore and tight end Nate Bohl a junior. Linemen Craig Downey and Joe Mosey are sophomores, Randy Brownell is a junior, Cory Hamilton is a returning senior and center Kelly Allen a first-year senior.
On defense, safeties Adam Cummings and Iaian Ahsley are junior and sophomore respectively. Corner Albert Bayer is a junior.
Junior Dan McConnell and sophomore Robert Smeltzer are at linebacker. Another sophomore, Jeremy Sparber is in the defensive line, along with Springdale transfer Brian Coe.
“The sophomores are really good athletes,” said Payne. “It’s the youth. You just don’t know what they will do from one play to the next.”
Stags continue to improve
Deer Park won three of its final four games last year, something Frost can build on.
“It’s one of the better senior classes we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “I think we can have a good season. If the ball bounces our way we’ll win a lot of games.”
Part of his reason for optimism is 6-foot-6 quarterback Trevor Baker.
“He’s the best quarterback in league,” said Frost. “He’s fast and throws a good ball.”
Another reason is third-year starting slotback Paul Deakins.
“He’s just an excellent athlete and a deep threat,” said Frost. “We’re capable of scoring fast and that’s an element other teams don’t have.”
Others in the backfield are junior fullback Chuck Freeland, senior slotback Clint Umbach and receivers Todd Weger and James Nadherney.
Up front are seniors Aaron Moran, Tom Barclay and Bob Krouse, juniors Kyle Kemble and Todd Garner.
They’ll all play on defense, joined by nose guard Tim Holston.
Chewelah is considered the Northeast A favorite, a team Deer Park was a penalty away from beating last season.
“We were in every game we played and got better and better,” said Frost. “There’s not anybody in the league we can’t beat.”