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Sports >  High school sports

2017 Central Idaho League preview: Defending state champ St. Maries must replace core

The St. Maries football team had a special group of seniors last year.

Coach Craig Teft had 17 seniors, 15 who were starters and at the core of the Lumberjacks’ 12-0 journey to a State 2A championship.

If St. Maries had been a 3A team, it would have been the undefeated Intermountain League champion.

“We were fortunate last year. We didn’t have a single injury,” Teft said. “That is rare.”

The impact of winning the state title and losing so many athletes to graduation didn’t hit Teft until summer camp.

“I’m looking around and we have all these new kids,” Teft said. “I was just used to having all those seniors for so long.”

Losing 17 players at a school St. Maries’ size could be difficult to overcome. While stopping well short of predicting a similar season from a year ago, Teft isn’t overly concerned.

So if it sounds as if Teft is talking out of both sides of his mouth, he’s not. “It doesn’t feel like we’re starting over,” he said.

That’s because Teft made it a point to play as many as possible last year. In the title game alone, 28 of the 32 players who suited up saw significant minutes.

All three Central Idaho League teams make the state playoffs. The other two teams, Grangeville and Orofino, will challenge St. Maries.

Teft said his team’s toughest game last year was an 8-0 win at Grangeville that decided the league title.

“Grangeville is going to be tougher than nails,” Teft said.

Two years ago, St. Maries’ junior varsity team went 7-1. Last year it went 8-0.

So Teft is optimistic there won’t be a significant drop off.

“There are some question marks, but there’s a lot of excitement,” Teft said.

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