All season long, Coeur d’Alene has been pointing to the state playoffs – and specifically, the championship game – as the chance to prove its merit. Friday night, the Vikings will finally start that playoff march as they host Timberline of Boise at 7 .
Coeur d’Alene (7-0) has been ranked No. 1 all season in the state 5A media poll and finished in the top spot in the final installation. The team that beat them in last year’s multiple-overtime championship game, Rigby, sits at No. 2 – and is one of a few teams that stands in the Vikings’ way of their sixth state title.
“I think we have a very talented group,” senior quarterback Jack Prka said earlier this season. “Our eyes are on the state championship and winning that, so we’ve just got to keep doing our thing and keep getting better.”
CdA has been led all season by Prka, who threw 14 touchdown passes and ran for four TDs in his three Inland Empire League games this season. He threw four TD passes and ran for another when the Vikings beat Post Falls two weeks ago in a driving snowstorm to earn the District 1-2 title and a bye in the first round of state.
“Step 1 down, on to Step 2,” Prka said of the district championship. “Keep our heads down, we got some good competition down in Boise. It’ll be fun.”
Prka, who leads the state with 26 touchdown passes, is supported by a wide variety of offensive weapons. Senior wideout Ethan Garitone is second in the state in receiving yards per game (100.4), junior Isaiah Griffin is a deep threat, and running backs Gunner Giulio and Trent Elstad are both sturdy rushers.
Timberline (3-3) finished third in the Southern Idaho Conference East and is paced by tailback Taylor Marcum, who averaged 93.3 yards on the ground. The junior rushed for 221 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wolves to a 27-20 victory over Skyview in a first-round game.
Moscow (4-1) at Sandpoint (4-4), Friday, 7 p.m.: Sandpoint beat Hillcrest 30-27 last week in a first-round matchup as Elek Christoferson kicked a late 25-yard field goal and Max Thielbar scored on a pair of touchdown runs.
After a 1-4 start to the season – all against larger IEL 5A schools – Sandpoint has won its past three games, sweeping the IEL 4A, including a 31-21 win over Moscow.
In that game, Parker Pettit threw for 309 yards and hooked up with Cody Newhart for touchdown receptions of 92 and 75 yards.
Moscow got off to a late start this season due to COVID-19 restrictions by its school board and only got in five games. The Bears hope to avenge their only loss this season – a game the Bears led 6-0 at halftime.
Lane Hanson ran for 111 yards with two TDs and the Bears generated six turnovers in a first-round 45-7 win over Jerome – their first road playoff victory since 1992. Moscow’s utility weapon is Division I prospect Johan Elliss, who had a 67-yard touchdown catch last week.
Timberlake (4-3) at Homedale (6-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Luke Fortin ran for 74 yards, two touchdowns and a 33-yard fumble recovery for a defensive touchdown and the visiting Tigers shut out winless Priest River last week to clinch the District 1 3A title and a bye to the state quarterfinals. Timberlake swept its three Intermountain League games.
Homedale, ranked No. 2 in the state 3A media poll, went 6-0 in the Snake River Valley Conference and averaged nearly 35 points per game this season.
Horseshoe Bend (6-3) at Mullan/St. Regis (7-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Sophomore Caleb Bell connected with brother Adam Ball, a junior, for two long touchdown passes, and had a 36-yard TD run, as the Tigers co-op beat Clark Fork last week to earn the District 1 1AD2 seed to the state tourney.
Mullan coach Stetson Spooner and St. Regis coach Jesse Allan lead the Tigers into the playoffs with momentum – their only loss was in September to Shelby of Montana. Mullan finished No. 4 in the state 1AD2 media poll.
Horseshoe Bend finished second in the Long Pin Conference.
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