IML story lines
Bonners Ferry, Priest River and Kellogg have new head coaches and St. Maries’ Craig Tefft is in his second year.
“Everything changes when a new coach comes in,” said Timberlake’s Roy Albertson, who enters his ninth season, having led the Tigers to eight playoff appearances and five IML championships.
The newcomers are playing it close to the vest.
Asked about his offensive and defensive strategies, Kellogg’s Tyrel Hendrix said, “We’ll wait until the first game to see that. Those are things we will use to our advantage. Nobody knows what we’re doing.”
Added Bonners Ferry’s Stephen Fisher: “We’ve installed a bunch of new things and the kids have picked it up pretty quickly. I’m preaching to them that we’re a team and I’m not singling any players out.”
Timberlake, which returns FB/LB Christian Heth, the IML offensive player of the year last season, and S/RB Devin Smith, the co-defensive player of the year, appears primed for another title run.
“Timberlake is loaded,” said Tefft, whose team returns seven starters, including projected two-way starters Satchel Schetzle (QB/DB), Cole Sampson (WR/LB), Ashton Stephenson (DB/RB) and Ethan Sanchez (OL/DT).
Timberlake returns five first-team selections – LB Chad Aga, kicker JD Page, OL Allen Foote, Heth and Smith – by far the most in the league. Heth was a two-way first-team selection.
“I think we’re on par with some of our better teams,” said Albertson, whose teams have advanced to the state semifinals three times. “But I’m looking for them to step up and be the best team we’ve had.”
The chase for the second playoff berth, claimed by Bonners Ferry last season, is wide open.
“I think we have a really good shot against Kellogg and St. Maries,” Priest River coach Mike McMahon said. “Bonners Ferry will probably be our make-or-break game.”
Kellogg is coming off a winless season, but the Wildcats could make some noise with a nice turnout of 45 players.
“We have a good shot,” Hendrix said. “We have 15 seniors out and we have some speed. The kids are very excited and they’re easy to coach.”
The Wildcats hope to bounce back behind seniors Tyler Morgan (FB/MLB), Justin Kitchen (TB/DL), Matt Kelso (QB/S) and Pierce Otto (LB/OL).
Priest River returns all-IML lineman Andrew Huddleston. Other key players will be Cameron Riley, who steps in at quarterback, center Jacob Munar, linebacker RC Akre and WR Dalton Sommer.
“We’re young,” McMahon said. “We have about five seniors and they’ll help us out and then I’ve got roughly 10-11 juniors, four that played at the varsity level last year.”
|2. Bonners Ferry|
|3. Priest River|
|4. St. Maries|