It’s been too long since we last chatted.
I began my 25th year at The S-R last week, and that time, too, has gone by way too fast. Two of my three children are in college now, and my youngest is a sophomore in high school. You didn’t pay 50 cents to read about my family, though. In the few lines I have in this space, I want to offer my football predictions.
This should be the most competitive season among the 5A Inland Empire League teams to date. Any of the four could win the championship and any combination could capture the two state playoff berths.
The logical pick to take the title is Coeur d’Alene. The Vikings return 13 starters, far and away the most among the teams. The most difficult pick is second.
So I’m going to go with tradition here. Lake City, despite the fact that it returned the fewest starters, will advance to the playoffs for a 12th straight year. I could make a sound argument for Post Falls or Lewiston, though.
Here’s the simple reason I picked LC over the other two: The Timberwolves play Lewiston at home, and LC hasn’t lost to a Lewiston team at home since 1996 – the last year, coincidentally or not, it had a losing season and didn’t make the playoffs.
Lewiston, which upset LC last year to forge a tie for the league title and advance to the playoffs, has the best league schedule. The Bengals play Post Falls and CdA at home. The problem with that, however, is the Vikings have owned Lewiston at Bengal Field this decade.
The Bengals have the most talented skill players in the league. Lewiston’s downfall will be depth and a key injury here and there. Post Falls just doesn’t have enough proven skill players to package with returning all-league quarterback Nikk Reinhardt.
•Let’s move on to 4A. I saw Sandpoint play last Friday and the Bulldogs will be better than I anticipated. Left-handed quarterback Jake Semones will do well as long as he can scramble and avoid square-on contact by a blitzing linebacker.
I see Lakeland capturing the region’s lone 4A playoff berth. The Hawks are coming into the 21st century on offense. They’re not completely abandoning the Wing T, but they’ll feature more one-back sets in hopes of getting mighty mite senior running back Kyle McCrite more touches and allowing second-year QB Riley Youngdell to throw the ball to some talented receivers.
•Timberlake has owned the Intermountain League lately, and Kellogg hopes to knock the kingpins off their throne. The top four teams advance to the state playoffs. I see Timberlake retaining its throne. Kellogg will grab second followed by IML newcomer Orofino and Priest River.
•In the North Star League, Kootenai should be the runaway winner. Wallace won’t have any difficulty capturing the lone 1A Division I playoff berth.
Unlike past years, my picks will be stationed somewhere in my weekly column.
Lewis and Clark at Lake City: This is the battle of the schools with the same abbreviation. The Tigers captured the Washington State 4A title last year, and they’re picked by my friend across this page, Mike Vlahovich, to capture the Greater Spokane League title. The T-Wolves will have their hands full. LC will show marked improvement over last week. Lake City 21, Lewis and Clark 20.
Southridge at Coeur d’Alene: Last year, the Vikings opened a 14-0 lead before Southridge stormed back to win 17-14. The Suns are picked to win their division in the two-division Columbia Basin League. The Vikings are a year older and wiser. CdA 27, Southridge 21.
•In other games: Mountain View 28, Post Falls 13; Cheney 20, Lakeland 14; Sandpoint 20, Colville 14; Lewiston 28, Clarkston 7; Timberlake 20, Moscow 14; Kellogg 21, Grangeville 14; Priest River 20, St. Maries 7; Mullan 36, Lakeside 12; Wallace 32, Clark Fork 12; Kootenai 26, St. John-Endicott 18.