Two years removed from a state title, St. Maries and head coach Craig Tefft are looking to bounce back after a down year in 2017.
For that to happen, the current group of seniors will need to conjure some of the magic surrounding the team when they were sophomores.
“They seem to be a really hungry group of guys and I am excited to see how well they lead and how far they can take our team and the season this year,” Tefft said.
In order for the goal to be realized, the Lumberjacks will need to keep the injury bug away.
“With us being a small school, injuries are always a big concern,” Tefft said. “You lose a couple of guys and thing can get derailed pretty quick.”
Senior Caden Hall was one of the key players who went down with a season-ending injury last season. But he is now part of the strong core of senior leaders ready to make a comeback.
“He was one of the ones we lost last year, and it took us a while to recover from that and fill in for the things we asked of him,” Tefft said. “He is back and healthy and he seems to be that kid who the kids gravitate to for leadership and playmaking. He’s a pretty special kid.”
As for their team motto, the Lumberjacks have accepted one from a football camp this summer.
“Eat till you sweat.”
The goal for St. Maries is to get bigger, faster and stronger and the best way to do that is to put on healthy weight.
“We pride ourselves on working hard in the weight room and becoming better football players through strength training,” Tefft said. “We really looked at the diet side of things and we want kids to put good weight on.”
Intermountain League (3A)
Bonners Ferry (1-8): Coach Cory Kramer, in his fourth season with the Badgers, returns 10 lettermen and six starters. Junior QB/DB Ty Bateman and senior RB/DB Donavan Varelman should be leaders. “We are pretty young but most of these guys were either starters or played quite a bit last year at the varsity level,” Kramer said. “If we can get the offensive line going we have a pretty deep backfield with different options.” Juniors Matt Morgan and Ashton Blumeneor look to anchor the lines on both sides of the ball.
Kellogg (6-3): The Wildcats won the league last year in coach Dan Lucier’s debut season. Lucier lost two all-state players in Chase Jerome and Ryan Morgan, plus two more all-league players. League defensive MVP junior Justin Lehto returns at linebacker and will play on the offensive line, as will returning all-league senior linemen Branden Miller and Owen Seitz. Raiden Rickets, who started in 2016 at QB, will be under center again. “We have tough kids that love football,” Lucier said. “We must come together as a team that loves one another.”
Priest River (4-5): Justin Torfin takes over the reins for the Spartans. He’ll have some talent to work with. Senior Robbie Anselmo was first-team all-league at RB and DB and Keegan Hagel was second-team at RB. Paving the way are Aaron Reyes and Cole Thompson, both selected as second-team linemen. Sophomore Coby Rogers will compete for time calling signals.
Timberlake (1-7): The Tigers have 25 lettermen and 16 starters returning for coach Roy Albertson, back at the helm for his 15th season after suffering a heart attack during practice last September. There’s lots of experience, but some depth issues. “We need to be consistent on both sides of the ball, improve our turnover ratio and stay healthy,” Alberston said. Junior QB Joey Follini, who was a second-team all-league selection, and a trio or RBs – second-team All-IML junior Jeremy McLemore plus seniors Chase Gordon and Luis Powell – will pace the offense, with all-league senior lineman Ben Schrader opening holes. McLemore was also a first-team pick at LB.
Clark Fork (4-5): All-league QB/LB and four-year starter Wade Stevens graduated and sophomore Cameron Garcia will be asked to take over the offense for coach Brian Arthun. Garcia will have help from junior receiver Josh Constantin, who scored 13 touchdowns last season. Senior RB Theo Icardo is back too, and led the Wampus Cats to a pair of wins late in the season to make the playoffs.
Kootenai (2-6): All-league QB Gage Maitland and WR Triston Usdrowski return for coach Doug Napierala. The pair combined for seven touchdown passes in the first three weeks of last season before injuries derailed a once-promising season.
Lakeside (5-4): All-league QB Bryar Sanchez has graduated, but fifth-year coach Chris Dohrman still has plenty to work with. “We have a good group of returning players that will do well for us this year”, he said. “We need to find some leadership and fill our quarterback position in order to have a good season and be competitive.” All-league junior RB/LB Devin Arroyo is back to lug the ball around with senior lineman Trey Winclaw and junior Lazarus Iron Cloud paving the way.
Mullan (1-6): The Tigers are operating as a co-op with Montana’s St. Regis. Mullan’s Stetson Spooner is the head coach in his eighth year, while St. Regis coach Jesse Allan is the defensive coordinator. “Both St. Regis and Mullan schools and communities are excited for the challenge of competing and getting the opportunity for our towns’ kids to be able to play the greatest game on earth,” Spooner said. “Honestly, it’s just being able to compete without the lingering fear of forfeiting games due to one little injury or a quitter.” Junior second-team all-state WR Skye Gallaway returns to lead the offense, with senior QB Joe Morris throwing him the ball.
Timberline (1-8): First-year coach Pat Christopherson takes over a team that has won once over the past two seasons. He’ll lean on sophomore RB/LB Chase Hunter, who Christopherson describes as the hardest worker on the team. Hunter will be joined by junior RB Andrew Anderson and freshman QB Hunter Bower. Senior Carter McCollum returns to anchor both lines.
Wallace (3-6): Fourth-year coach Jared Young has a pair of all-league players returning: second-team senior QB Erik Brackebusch and honorable mention senior WR Carter Bailey. Senior RB/LB Triston Neubauer will figure big on both sides of the ball.
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