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Coeur d’Alene captures IEL 5A title

Coeur d'Alene's Reece Mahaffy breaks free of Lake City defenders in the first half of Friday’s game. (BRUCE TWITCHELL)
Coeur d'Alene's Reece Mahaffy breaks free of Lake City defenders in the first half of Friday’s game. (BRUCE TWITCHELL)

Coeur d’Alene has won numerous blowouts and shootouts the past few seasons, but the Vikings showed Friday they’re capable of handling a defensive-minded slugfest.

The Vikings erased a halftime deficit with two third-quarter touchdowns and held off visiting Lake City 21-7 to capture the 5A Inland Empire League title. Two-time defending state champion Coeur d’Alene (6-2 overall, 3-0 IEL) has won five in a row over the Timberwolves (4-3-1, 2-1).

In State 5A play-in games Friday, the Vikings will host Lewiston and Lake City entertains Post Falls.

“We don’t usually have these kinds of games, but it’s good for us,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “We’re playing a lot of juniors on offense and sometimes they play like juniors.”

All four touchdowns were scored when the offense had a brisk wind at its back. Coeur d’Alene capitalized on a botched long snap to LC’s punter, taking over at the Timberwolves’ 11-yard line. Two plays later Reece Mahaffey cruised 12 yards for the touchdown. The point-after attempt failed and CdA led 6-0.

Lake City answered when quarterback Bruce Shipley broke a 63-yard run early in the second quarter, setting up Brandon Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run. Andrew Hocking’s PAT put LC in front 7-6.

The Vikings marched 74 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter. All the yards came on the ground with quarterback Gunnar Amos, the coach’s son, carrying three times for 67 yards, including a 53-yarder down the right sideline. CdA added the two-point conversion to take a 14-7 lead.

“It was important that we scored on that drive,” Shawn Amos said. “Our kids responded well. I think we were mentally ready and that’s good because that’s how it’s going to be from here on out.”

To that point, there had been no turnovers and no accepted penalties. That would change in the final 1½ quarters as each team finished with two turnovers and several costly penalties.

Coeur d’Alene drove 64 yards – 30 via LC penalties – late in the third quarter to take a 21-7 advantage as Amos scored on a 10-yard run.

“Give them credit, they played a little bit better and they moved the ball better than we did,” said Lake City coach Van Troxel, whose team played without senior playmaker Mitch Bevacqua (ankle). “I’m really proud of our defense, they battled really hard.”

Lake City had a chance to make it a one-possession game but failed to convert on fourth-and-goal at the Vikings’ 4 with 4:10 remaining.

The Timberwolves rushed for 212 yards, led by Shipley’s 124, but passed for only 75 yards, 31 coming on a half-back option. Coeur d’Alene had similar numbers with 245 yards rushing and 78 passing. Amos rushed for 139 yards and Mahaffy added 70.

“Both teams did a pretty good job shutting down the other’s offense,” Amos said.

“I think it was just like we expected, a very hard fought battle with your crosstown rival. I thought our kids played hard with great effort and their kids played hard with great effort.”