Last season, North Idaho was well-represented in the state football tournaments and hopes to have an even-better showing this season.
Any discussion about high school football in North Idaho starts with Coeur d’Alene, where the perennial final-four Vikings don’t rebuild, they reload.
In 4A, Sandpoint is starting to look like a juggernaut with a semifinal appearance, and Timberlake in 3A went undefeated in league play and reached the quarters last year.
In the state’s smallest classification, the Mullan/St. Regis co-op finished one win away from the state title game and returns most of the players that got them there.
5A (2020 record, finish)
Coeur d’Alene (10-1, 3-0, first): Coach Shawn Amos enters his 25th season with the Vikings sitting where they normally do: as the team to beat in the Inland Empire 5A ranks. They return a bevy of all-state and all-league players, including TE/DE Cameren Cope, RB/S Gunner Giulio, WR/DB Isaiah Griffin and OL/DL Jaxson Washington. RB/LB Robert Collier joins the Vikings from Gonzaga Prep for his senior season. The one position where questions linger is the most important – quarterback. Brayden Bengston got plenty of mop-up duty last year but was inconsistent. His development will determine if CdA reaches or exceeds last year’s state semifinal loss.
Post Falls (5-4, 2-1): All four of the Trojans losses last season came to three of the four state semifinalists, including Coeur d’Alene twice. They sustained heavy losses to graduation as well, with IEL offensive MVP Tommy Hauser and defensive MVP Kaden Cripps both moving on. But sixth-year coach Blaine Bennett has three-year starting quarterback Jaxon Anderson to work with, and senior corner Zachary Clark led the state in interceptions last season.
Lake City (3-6, 1-2): Coach Brain Fulp enters his fourth season with plenty of returning starters, but will be looking for a new signal-caller. Whoever takes the reigns will have one of the better athletes in the league to throw to: Zach Johnson. The 6-foot-5 junior wideout already has D-I football offers and could in basketball as well. Avoiding CdA and Post Falls until league play this year will help.
Lewiston (3-6, 0-3): The Bengals lost some heavy hitters on both sides of the ball, as QB Kash Lang and DE Alec Eckert were lost to graduation. Jace McKarcher will bring a reasonable facsimile of the athleticism Lang brought to the QB position, though, while RB Kruz Hepburn and TE James White return to help shoulder the load for fifth-year coach Matt Pancheri.
Sandpoint (5-5, 2-0): Third-year coach Ryan Knowles is building something up north. He brings 12 years of college experience at Colgate to the Bulldogs and have them poised to break through at the state level. He returns junior starting QB Parker Pettit and fellow all-league picks RB Gerrit Cox and WR Cody Newhart to his offense, while newcomer of the year senior Wes Benefield will lead the charge on defense. A robust nonleague schedule has them taking on each of the IEL 5As.
Lakeland (3-5, 0-2): Coach Tim Keifer is back for his 18th season, as well as most of his offense from last season, including junior QB Devon Suko, RB John Cornish and WR Alden Waddington. However, the Hawks security blanket, TE/DE Ammon Munyer, graduated to Weber State and leaves big shoes to fill. Four of their five losses last season were one-possession games.
Moscow (4-2, 1-1): The Bears were as hurt by graduation as any school in Idaho, losing all-state LB Jonah Elliss and three-year QB Chad Redinger. Coach Phil Helbling, in his 10th season, has some work to do. Jonah’s brother, Micah, is a junior and will be an anchor on both lines, while Leon Hutton takes over as signal-caller. He has experience to throw to, led by all-league pick Cody Isakson.
Timberlake (4-4, 3-0): Kelly Amos starts his second season of his second stint with the Tigers with a plethora of returning starters, led by senior linemen Trevor Cady and Paul Turley. QB Ashton Peightal returns for his senior campaign, as does a stable of running backs to choose from as the Tigers will continue to run their wing-T formation. Zach Yetter broke Timberlake’s single-season receiving yardage record last season.
Bonners Ferry (3-4, 1-2): The Badgers should be stout on defense, where they return IML defensive MVP safety Wilson Newell, along with three starting defensive linemen. On the other side for second-year coach Travis Hinthorn, junior QB Tiegan Banning and wideout Blake Rice, along with Newell at RB, give the Badgers good balance.
Kellogg (3-4, 2-1): Coach Dan Davidian, in his second season, returns most of his offense, including IML offensive MVP QB Riply Luna and WR Kolby Luna, both juniors. The Wildcats have qualified for state each of the past four seasons.
Priest River (0-7, 0-3): The Spartans had a rough go of it last season and will have to start over again after offensive leader Jordan Nortz transferred. Coach Jared Hughes is in the third year of his second stint with the Spartans, and hopes to build his team from the line out, as four ninth-grade linemen who all started last season are a year older and bigger.
St. Maries (2-2, 1-0): Coach Craig Tefft is back for his 11th season and will look to rebuild after a COVID-shortened campaign. He lost four leaders, including QB/FB Eli Gibson, but returns four senior linemen to build around. Sean Elliott takes over for Gibson at QB . He has a veteran group of receivers.
Lakeside (4-3, 2-0): Eighth-year coach Chris Dohrman graduated just three from last-season’s playoff squad and has several returning starters, led by QB Tucker Sanchez, all-league RB Vander Brown and lineman Patrick Galler. The Knights scored 30-plus in seven of eight games last season.
Wallace (2-5, 0-2): The Miners have won just six of their past 36 games, but seventh-year coach Jared Young has reason for optimism, starting with a line that returns three starters who will block for runners Teagen Goldade and Liam Murdock, while junior QB Landon Streeter is an emerging two-way threat.
Mullan/St. Regis (8-2, 3-0): The Tigers co-op made an impressive run to the state semifinals before being knocked off by eventual state champ Dietrich, and they return the bulk of the players responsible, including all-state RB/LB Luke Trogden, all-state RB/LB Adam Ball and all-league QB/DB Caleb Ball.
Clark Fork (2-3, 0-2): Coach Brian Arthun lost offensive leader Cameron Garcia and will lean on senior Carter Sanroman as his featured performer at running back and inspiration on defense at linebacker.
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