This has become an annual deal for Coeur d’Alene, replacing the exodus of all-league – and in some cases, all-state – players from the previous season.
It’s an even bigger challenge with 13 All-Inland Empire League selections from last year’s 5A state runner-up squad moving on, many to the college game.
“That’s a high number,” coach Shawn Amos said. “That was a very talented class.”
Count Amos among those curious to see how the new-look Vikings fare in 2018, but the veteran coach has extensive experience reloading rosters.
“We tell our kids we want everyone to say, ‘How do you replace all those kids?’” said Amos, who guided CdA to state titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013. “We have a number of kids waiting in the wings.”
The Vikings always do, and nothing has changed in terms of expectations. Coeur d’Alene remains the 5A IEL favorite with Lewiston considered the most likely challenger.
“Coeur d’Alene is the one on top until somebody knocks them off,” new Lake City coach Brian Fulp said. “The other teams, it’s going to be a dogfight. There’s nothing really guaranteed. We’re pretty young and Post Falls is relatively young, too.”
The Vikings have just four returning starters and one of those, All-IEL linebacker Garrett Hagel, will miss the first two games for an athletic code violation.
Kale Edwards, sidelined most of last season while recovering from a broken leg, steps in for do-it-all quarterback Colson Yankoff, a freshman at Washington. Amos said the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Edwards is “strong, smart and a coach’s kid.” Edwards’ dad, Derek, coaches linebackers.
Shilo Morgan takes over at starting running back after gaining more than 800 yards last season. The Viks will utilize roughly eight wide receivers that also will see time in the defensive secondary.
Two-way threats are common on Amos’ teams. He calls them “1.5 or 1.25 guys,” players who operate at one position while taking a lesser number of snaps at another. Amos expects seven players in the defensive line rotation and 11 in the mix at WR-DB.
The Vikings have assembled another grueling nonleague schedule. They’ll face Highland, which handed CdA a 14-8 loss in the title game, GSL power Gonzaga Prep and Mead.
“I feel like this group has been raised up in the program,” Amos said, “but we won’t know on a number of these guys until we see how they react. We’ll find out who can elevate real quick.”
Post Falls: The Trojans were hit hard by graduation after last season’s 8-2 campaign and trip to the playoffs. The two-deep will look completely different after the exit of 20 seniors, eight who made the All-5A IEL team.
“We’re obviously young,” coach Blaine Bennett said. “We’re still trying to find the right people to play the right positions. We’re kind of a work in progress but we have a lot of good kids and high expectations as always.”
Justin Gies and Terran Sharbrough anchor the offensive line. Derek Pearse had a slight edge on Jake Rutherford and Alex Horning for the starting quarterback job. All three are capable of playing receiver and cornerback.
The secondary should be a strength with the Rutherford brothers, Jake and Cole, at cornerback, and Carsen Daughenbaugh at senior.
Lake City: The Timberwolves elevated Fulp from JV coach to head coach to replace Bryce Erickson, who went 5-12 overall and 0-6 against 5A IEL foes the last two years.
“I’ve coached these seniors,” Fulp said. “They definitely seem hungry to prove themselves. They’ve been through a couple of tough years. They want to show how Lake City football is going to be.”
Five seniors – running back Zane Lettau, LB-WR Lucas Briner, DB-WR Travis Jerome, OL-DL Jackson Bronsell and LB-TE Nick Kaufman – should be key contributors.
Sophomore Chris Irvin is the expected starter at quarterback.
“He started three games on the freshman team, moved up to JV and actually got in for a series in the last varsity game,” Fulp said. “He watches the most film of all the kids by quite a ways.”
Lewiston: The Bengals experienced a youth movement last season after losing 21 starters from a 9-2 team in 2016. Those youngsters are now seasoned, giving Lewiston 26 seniors versus 13 last season.
“That’s where you want to be, and a lot of them are returning starters,” second-year coach Matt Pancheri said. “All of our skill positions, minus one kid, are coming back on offense and defense.”
Names to watch include quarterback Tyson Wallace, WR-S Connor Spencer, LB-RB Treyce Bradley and WR-S Kyle Alford.