I’ve written this a lot in recent years. At least this decade.
Sandpoint High had a golden fall. Hey, they’re going to have to build separate trophy cases for the volleyball and boys soccer teams after the first decade of the 21st century concludes.
The Sandpoint volleyball and boys soccer teams captured their sixth 4A state championships of the decade this fall.
Randy Thoreson has been around for each of the boys soccer championships. Karen Alsager has coached the volleyball team to state titles in two of the last three seasons, and the Bulldogs played in the state final last year.
They probably could have won last year, too.
Here’s a look at the fall and some of the highlights.
Lewiston ran off 11 straight victories before its season ended in a semifinal loss at Eagle.
Five players were in the middle of Lewiston’s success. They were junior quarterback Justin Podrabsky, senior wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Young and Ridge Fuentes, senior tight end/linebacker Kyle Nilsson and senior running back Joey Walton.
Nilsson deservedly was named the Inland Empire League’s player of the year. Young and Fuentes couldn’t have been too far behind.
It was Lewiston’s best season since 2002 when the Bengals played in the state title game.
Coach Emmett Dougherty had a nice touch on this team.
•There’s no doubt – at least in my mind – why Lake City was able to make the state playoffs for a 12th straight year. In a name, Adam Fenenbock.
The undersized senior quarterback – who was all of 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds if he stood on his tippy toes and tucked 5-pound bags of marbles in his back pockets – stepped in as a first-year starter and performed as if he had been a three-year starter. He got the most out of his abilities. He was the classic example of an overachiever.
•A tip of the hat to Kootenai, which advanced to the State 1A Division II eight-man championship game for the first time in school history.
The Warriors had too many things go wrong for a championship to be destiny as it turned out. But Kootenai’s five seniors – especially Dakota Amy, Kolten Willms and Ben Shannon – established a tradition. Kootenai will be the North Star League favorite next year despite the graduation of the talented trio.
Sandpoint left no doubt it was the best team at the 4A state tourney.
I’m not sure the Bulldogs were the best team in North Idaho, though. They would have to share that distinction with Coeur d’Alene.
The Vikings took third at state, falling short of their expectations. They dug themselves a big hole when they lost their state opener.
Sandpoint will not only return to state, but with returning starters Piper Wahlin, Koko James, Kaiti Lunde and Christina Johnson, the Bulldogs should win again and close out the decade with a seventh title.
•St. Maries had some big shoes to fill after finishing second at state last year. Then coach Jamie Sloper, a St. Maries graduate, resigned to spend more time with her family.
Enter another former St. Maries standout, Missy (Sines) Asbury, as coach. She did a wonderful job with the Lumberjacks, who returned to the title game.
Thoreson is nearing the end of his coaching career. In fact, Thoreson, 62, hinted moments after the season that this fall could have been his last.
I suspect he will return for one more year, though. With the core of his offense returning in Daniel Anderson, Adam Crossingham and Tanner Williams, the Bulldogs should win their seventh title this decade.
Sure Thoreson has some shoes to fill on defense. And if he has said it once he’s said a thousand times about defense winning championships. He’ll find the right athletes to fill the holes, though.
It was the year of seconds for three area runners.
Coeur d’Alene sophomore Kinsey Gomez and Sandpoint senior Megan Bartlett – both of whom won state titles a year ago – finished second in ultra-competitive races.
Lake City junior C.J. Helbling also finished second.
Gomez and Helbling will challenge for state titles next year no doubt.
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