MOSCOW, Idaho – His coach said he hits like a train, and his quarterback insists he’ll play through anything. But if you were still wondering about Heith Adamson’s supply of grit, all you needed to do was watch him hobble around the Kibbie Dome turf Friday night.
Bothered by lingering ankle problems, the Carey senior could barely get back to the huddle a few times. Yet that didn’t stop him from gutting out one of the more memorable performances in small-school Idaho football playoff history.
Adamson rollicked for six touchdowns and 232 total yards to key the Panthers’ 46-12 rout of Kootenai in the State 1A Division II 8-man championship.
After a bitter loss in the state finals a year ago to Salmon River, top-ranked Carey wrapped up a 12-0 campaign to pocket its second crown in three years in front of a largely pro-Kootenai crowd.
The third-ranked Warriors, meanwhile, failed to earn their first title. They finish the year at 11-1.
The Harrison club answered Carey’s first blow – a 30-yard fling from Trevor Peck to Adamson – with a touchdown on its first possession. Jake Hall weaved through an array of defenders for a 60-yard scamper to make it 6-6.
But then the 190-pound Adamson reeled off four straight scores, the last three on jaunts of varying length.
“It felt really good,” Adamson said. “The main thing I was really proud of was the front line blocked just amazing for me, so I had room to run where I wanted to.”
His bruising running style was complemented perfectly by quarterback Peck, who threw for 93 yards on 8-of-11 passing. Two of his three TD passes were caught by Adamson.
Meanwhile, the Carey defense smothered the potent Kootenai attack. The Warriors, who lost top rusher Ben Shannon early in the first quarter to a dislocated elbow, mustered just 252 total yards.
Jake Hall, Shannon’s replacement as Kootenai’s go-to tailback, rumbled for 172 yards on 21 carries. But the Warriors’ offense clearly wasn’t the same team after losing its No. 1 back.
“Looking back, that hurt big time,” Kootenai coach Doug Napierala said. “Him and Jake in the backfield have been our bread and butter back there. You take either the bread or the butter away, you don’t got much.”
The Panthers, who picked up their fourth football title in school history, stoned the Warriors four times on fourth down. A key stop came less than 3 minutes after halftime, when Carey stuffed Kootenai quarterback Kolten Willms on fourth-and-1.
It took Carey just four plays after that to push its advantage to 26-6.
“Any time you can stop a great, powerful team like Kootenai, the momentum starts to go your way,” Panthers coach Lane Kirkland said.
After the injury to Shannon, Kootenai couldn’t get its other two main threats going. Willms and tight end Dakota Amy hooked up only once for eight yards.