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Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

2017 Intermountain League preview: Timberlake seeks to continue title streak

The Timberlake football team may field its youngest team ever under coach Roy Albertson.

Come the second half of the season, though, it may not matter. The Tigers have a big upside.

Albertson knows his team will suffer growing pains early, especially against a strong nonleague schedule.

With a thin senior class, Timberlake has committed to go with youth and will start 21 different players.

Even with the youth movement, Timberlake is expected to stay atop the Intermountain League, which the Tigers have owned for more than a decade.

Kellogg returns the most experience among the four league teams and should challenge for one of two state playoff berths.

Timberlake Tigers

Timberlake has captured 14 straight outright or shared league titles. In the last seven years, the Tigers have outscored IML opponents 1,092-244.

Many thought the Tigers would be dethroned last year. And after going 0-6 through their nonleague schedule they appeared vulnerable.

But they rebounded to earn the league title. They’re banking on another difficult nonleague schedule and the maturation of youth to pay dividends in October.

“We believe we’ll be a good team before it is all said and done,” Albertson said. “It is possible it will be a rocky road getting there, but we are going to enjoy the ride early on.”

Timberlake will feature a backfield of mostly sophomores including quarterback Joey Follini. Timberlake’s lone returning senior starters are Griffen Foote, a tight end/defensive lineman, and Riese Peightal, an offensive and defensive lineman.

“We should be pretty fresh in the second half of games,” Albertson said. “With the schools our size, this could be a big advantage.”

Kellogg Wildcats

Dan Lucier had been living for six months in a new house he had built in Pullman, where he was the Greyhounds’ head coach for five years.

Then a friend called. It was the Kellogg superintendent. He wanted to know if Lucier knew of any young coaches he could consider for Kellogg’s coaching vacancy.

After Lucier thought about it, he told his friend he was interested. It was a short job search and Lucier resigned at Pullman in mid-June.

The move gets Lucier, 58, closer to Superior, Montana, where he coached for 32 years and still owns a home.

Lucier takes over a program that has struggled in recent years.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Lucier said.

He’s implemented the wishbone to take advantage of his players’ strengths. Kellogg lacks numbers.

Senior basketball standout Chase Jerome will start at quarterback.

“I like the enthusiasm and the hunger to be successful,” Lucier said. “We give great effort in practice and are becoming a tight-knit unit. They will compete very well.”

Priest River Spartans

The Spartans earned the league’s second playoff berth last year, taking Weiser to overtime before falling.

Brad Martin takes over as coach. Priest River returns four starters, and Martin said the Spartans had a low turnout and lack depth.

Top returners are junior receiver Robbie Anselmo, senior lineman Derrick Melton and senior running back Caleb Blancher.

“The team is working hard and committed,” Martin said. “I’m very proud of the effort and look forward to opportunities this season.”

Bonners Ferry Badgers

The Badgers graduated talented quarterback Kaleb Stockton and running back Nick Sabin. They have several holes to fill off a team that finished 1-8.

Bonners Ferry coach Cory Kramer says the Badgers’ strength will be their offensive and defensive lines.

Just before jumping into league play, the Badgers have back-to-back games against Pullman and defending State 2A champ St. Maries. The games should reveal where the Badgers stand going into league.

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