From staff reports
Capsules for the 5A and 4A Inland Empire Leagues and 3A Intermountain League football programs.
In alphabetical order by classification. Records and standings from 2022 season.
Coeur d’Alene (4-5, 1-2, third): The Vikings were in unfamiliar territory last season, watching the playoffs instead of advancing to the state final four or better as in recent seasons. Their third-place finish in league snapped a string of five-straight league titles. Coach Shawn Amos, in his 27th season, is undaunted. “We had great attendance and energy in spring and summer practice,” he said. “We’ve had a great ‘team buy-in’ concept.” The defense will be stout with end Camden DeGraw (Washington State) and inside linebacker backer Shea Robertson (Eastern Washington).
Lake City (2-7, 0-3, fourth): Former Lake City and Boise State standout Byron Hout returns to his alma mater to lead a Timberwolves program that has looked up on the rest of the league in recent years. Hout was a junior at Lake City in 2006 when the T-wolves went 12-0 for the program’s second state title, and he was named the state 5A player of the year. He brings 12 years of college coaching experience to the job. “There are a lot of opportunities for players to step into key roles this year,” he said. “This will be a lot of players’ first games starting varsity and I am excited to see how they grow through the season.”
Lewiston (7-3, 2-1, second): The Bengals had the best offense in the state last season at 41 points per game and it could be even better this season, led by senior all-league QB Drew Hottinger and IEL offensive player of the year RB Jackson Lathen. Lewiston could be involved in plenty of shootouts this fall, as it lost 9 of 11 starters on defense. “We have some experienced young players (on defense) I am excited to see step in,” sixth-year coach Matt Pancheri said.
Post Falls (7-3, 3-0, first): The Trojans lost the league’s player of the year (DE Trevor Miller) and offensive POY (RB Jake Bustamante) but return six other first-team all-league picks for coach Blaine Bennett, entering his seventh season at Post Falls. “With 16 returning starters and a strong senior class, we expect to compete for the league title again,” Bennett said. They’ll lean on senior RB Tevin Burns.
Lakeland (7-3, 1-1, second): The Hawks might have been the biggest surprise in the area last season under first-year coach Mike Schroeder, as they came within one point of sweeping the three 5A teams on their schedule. Senior Owen Forsman is a triple threat at tight end, linebacker and kicker, where he earned all-state honors and a scholarship to University of Idaho. Schroeder thinks this year’s version of the team could be more physical and deeper than last year’s team that qualified for state.
Moscow (0-8, 0-2, third): Coach Rob Bafus has 13 starters returning in his second year at the helm for the Bears. Seniors Phillip Windley, Dylan Taylor and Joey Williams anchor both lines. “The line on both sides of the ball looks to be our strength this year,” Bafus said.
Sandpoint (6-4, 2-0, first): The Bulldogs have won three straight league titles with two trips to the state semifinals and one to the championship game. But coach Ryan Knowles’ squad isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season, and with the loss of five all-state players – including QB Parker Pettit and LB Wes Benefield – it could be an uphill battle this season.
Bonners Ferry (9-1, 1-0, first): Longtime assistant Danny Swift takes over the head coaching duties for the Badgers and inherits a team that reached the state quarterfinals last season but lost more than 20 seniors from that squad. All-league lineman Trey Bateman and all-league RB/LB Dakota Heller will be senior leaders while junior QB Brody Rice gets accustomed to running the offense.
Timberlake (4-4, 0-1, second): Coach Kelly Amos returns for his third year of his second stint with the Tigers. He has five starters back on both offense and defense, including senior quarterback Cole Meidinger and all-league picks senior Vaughn Higgins (RB/LB) and junior Jeremy Hurlbert (OL/DL). “This is a team that has all the correct parts, we just need to get these parts healthy and working together,” Amos said.