It was the last of three straight losses and part of a 1-3 start for the Coeur d’Alene football team.
Vikings coach Shawn Amos knew that scenario could take place. That’s why he packed the front end of his team’s schedule like he did – with difficult opponents and long, excruciating road trips.
The last of those trips was a trek to the southeast corner of Idaho where CdA jumped out to a 21-3 lead over perennial 5A power Highland.
Whether it was the toll of the road trips, the toll of playing another state playoff-quality opponent or perhaps a collec- tive exhale after building the 21-3 lead, something gave way.
Highland rallied to upend CdA 24-21.
Seven consecutive wins later and the Vikings (8-3) will meet No. 1-ranked Highland (11-0) in the state championship final Friday at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow. Kickoff is at 7.
Certainly revenge could be on the Vikings’ minds Friday. But that probably takes a back seat to some other recent motivation.
The Vikings have been playing for their coach since he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last month. Then their starting quarterback, the coach’s son, Gunnar Amos, suffered a concussion and when he came back he broke his ankle in CdA’s playoff opener and was lost for the season.
Then there’s the fact CdA is in the state title game for a fourth straight year, seeking a third title in that stretch.
Motivation? Yes, there’s plenty of motivation.
“They’ve dealt with the strange season we’ve had,” Shawn Amos said. “It’s certainly brought us closer together as a program.”
Amos said it was obvious what beset CdA the first time against Highland.
“We quit scoring points,” Amos said, pointing out the obvious.
Highland is a team you can’t do that against. It was more missed opportunities that they capitalized on.”
So CdA knows what it needs to do Friday.
“They’re a very good football team,” Amos said. “They don’t have any weaknesses to exploit. You have to be patient and take care of the football.”
So the season that began with trips to Portland, Seattle and Pocatello now ends roughly 85 miles south in Moscow.
“With the season we’ve had, this seems almost like a vacation,” Amos said.
But for the Vikings, there will be a big emphasis on finishing what they started.
“The thing that I know is these kids are going to be well prepared,” Amos said. “The coaches have done all they can and they’re going to play hard. I know how they’re going to play – they’re going to play with great effort. That’s all you can ask for.”