Deary and Kendrick have owned the football only White Star League the first two years of its existence.
Two years ago, Deary finished as the 1A Division II state runner-up and Kendrick did the same last fall.
The league combines the four North Star League teams with four District II teams.
Deary and Kendrick, which lost much to graduation, are picked again to shut out the NSL tams from the playoff picture this fall.
Clark Fork Wampus Cats
Clark Fork hopes it can break through the Deary/Kendrick blockade.
The Wampus Cats have 18 players out – double Kootenai and Mullan.
“The small towns seem to be shrinking,” coach Brian Arthun said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher to field teams.”
Clark Fork is led by quarterback Wade Stevens, a four-year starter. He has some familiar targets at wide receiver.
After the skill positions, though, the Wampus Cats are thin across the front.
“We’re a little weak in the offensive and defensive lines,” Arthun said.
Arthun is optimistic, though.
“We’ll have a shot if things go well to get one of the two playoff sports,” he said. “We’ll have to stay healthy.”
The Knights were the highest finishing NSL team last year, just one spot out of the playoffs.
Coach Chris Dohrman is hopeful his team will challenge for a playoff berth.
Lakeside returns quarterback Bryar Sanchez and running back Jordan Davison, both seniors.
“We have a good backfield. It’s a matter of getting our offensive and defensive lines going too,” Dohrman said. “If we do that we should continue to improve.”
Lakeside’s turnout dropped to 13 with three returners choosing not to play. A couple others moved away and just one freshman turned out, Dohrman said.
Turnout is razor thin in Harrison.
Coach Doug Napierala had nine eligible players for the season opener. A 10th player turned out late.
Making matters difficult, though, is four of Kootenai’s players are freshmen.
“I hope we can make it through the season. It’s a thin margin,” Napierala said.
Kootenai is led by quarterback/linebacker Gage Maitland and tight end/defensive end Triston Usdrowski.
“We have some talent and ability,” Napierala said. “It’s going to boil down to line play. We don’t have the bubbas like we’ve had. We have a bunch of little guys.”
Mullan returns to the league after having to drop out last fall because it lacked players.
The Tigers managed to play six six-man games last year.
Mullan has no room for injury with eight players. Three returners chose not to play, coach Stetson Spooner said.
“We have to limit the hitting in practice to avoid injuries,” Spooner said. “We’ll have to do a lot of individual drills, hitting pads and hitting dummies.”
Mullan is led by quarterback Gryphon Todd and running back/linebacker Sheldon Trogden, both seniors.
Spooner is especially high on sophomore Skye Galloway, a fullback/linebacker. Spooner said he hasn’t seen an athlete like Galloway in all his years coaching.
Mullan will find out immediately how it stacks up against the best in the league. The Tigers open Friday at home against favorite Deary.
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