Big challenge ahead for Wood River football
4A schedule, lack of depth faces 2004 Wolverines
By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer
Depth is a major concern as the Wood River High School football program tackles the biggest challenge in its often-checkered gridiron history?a move up to 4A and games against teams from bigger Idaho cities.
Wood River opens its nine-game 2004 schedule Friday, Aug. 27 with a 7:30 p.m. non-conference game against the Mountain Home Tigers at Phil Homer Field, Hailey. It?s the first time the two programs have clashed on the gridiron in 23 years.
Second-year Wood River head coach Dale Martin likes the senior leadership on his 40-player squad. ?We?ve got a great group of seniors and I think we?ll surprise some people,? he said. ?But if we get a couple of injuries, we just don?t have the depth.?
The Wolverines have plenty of backs and receivers but don?t have a lot of linemen, Martin said. Judging by Saturday night?s pre-season scrimmage, Wood River is showing promise on defense and with its kicking game.
It will take a while to fine-tune its throwback single-wing offense, though.
Martin said, ?We?ve got a ways to go. It?s pretty typical, but I can say the defense is way ahead of the offense at this stage. We?ve got five really good linebackers. And (junior) Dema Springs kicked a 47-yard field goal.?
For a Wood River team that will be the underdog every time it takes the field this fall, the kicking game will be very important in keeping games close.
A big addition to the Wood River kicking program and special teams has been the addition of Larry Swider, a former professional football punter. ?Larry has been a great help. He lives here about six months a year and just wanted to help out,? said Martin.
Swider was the punter on the coach Johnny Majors? 1976 University of Pittsburgh team with RB Tony Dorsett and QB Matt Cavanaugh that went 12-0 including a 27-3 Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia for the national championship. In one game that year, a 42-14 win over Georgia Tech, Swider averaged 57 yards on six punts.
Not only is Swider helping placekicker Springs, the new coach is pointing 6-3, 215-pound junior punter Tyler Jackson in the right direction. Jackson aver-aged 33 yards on 26 punts last season, with a long punt of 59 yards.
?We?re still working on the punting game,? said Martin. ?Tyler has a tremendous leg and he could be one of the best if he puts his mind to it.?
A big part of a successful punting game is a long-snapper and, according to Martin, Wood River has one of the best in 6-1, 225-pound senior co-captain Billy Kramer. But Kramer is sidelined with a knee injury and his return is uncertain. Corbin Miniard, a promising sophomore, will step in.
On defense, Hailey will go with a five-man front with two or three linebackers, depending on pass coverage.
Nose tackles are Dusty Selner and Miniard. Tackles include Andrew Grimaldo and All-Conference player Max Kessler, plus Matt Jost and Adrian Gri-maldo. A potential All-Leaguer at defensive end is 6-2 junior Scott Bartlett. And Luke Chaney is penciled in at weak-side defensive end.
Middle linebacker Tyson Reynoso (100 tackles, 36 assists in 2003) is joined by weak-side LB Chris Santiago and Tyler Jackson. Carl Browning, Kenny Cardona and Alex Burwell will also see playing time behind the line.
Strong-side cornerback Huston Brashears will lead the secondary and Craig Werley is the stay-at-home free safety and the only senior in the defensive backfield. Weak-side corners include Jeff Conover, Craig Stewart, Micah Floyd and Cardona. Floyd and Sidney Watson will back up Werley.
?We?ve got some talent on defense,? said Martin, whose son Jeff Martin is the defensive coordinator.
The run-and-shoot offense of last year?s offensive coordinator Brett Wright didn?t quite work out for Wood River, and Wright is gone to Jerome to join up with new Jerome coach Jerry Diehl. Wood River (1-7) scored only 63 points in eight games, allowing 260, and lost its final five.
The new offensive coordinator is Dick Springs?and Wood River?s new wrinkle on offense is a single-wing. It?s an old-fashioned running offense that dates back to the origins of football.
?Wood River has never run the single wing,? said Martin. ?Idaho hasn?t seen much of it, but Mackay used to run it. You?ve got to do things differently to prepare for it.?
For Wood River, the single-wing offense will try to mask the team?s lack of size across the line, as well as the lack of a long passing game. Offensive line coach Peter Naumes has been working hard on double-team blocking, and the Wolverines will try to get five blockers at the point of attack.
?You don?t have to be real big to run a single wing,? coach Martin said. ?There?s not a lot of fancy stuff involved, but if we can get the ball four or five yards down the field we?ve done well. The kids have picked it up, although some think it?s old fashioned. So we?re going to run the football, but we?ve got to throw it, too, I suspect maybe 30 or 40% of the time.?
The offense has seven linemen?four on the strong side away from the center and two weak side. Two backs are directly behind the center. Both can re-ceive the snap. Calling the signals is the blocking back, lodged close to the line behind linemen. A wing back is placed out past the strong end.
Center is Able Grimaldo and the drive blocker is Miniard. Pulling guard is Adrian Grimaldo. The strong-side quick tackle is 5-10, 160-pound Luke Chaney, who double teams with strong-side tight end Carl Browning, an important 6-0, 190-pound junior.
Martin said, ?Browning is the quickest kid on the team. He can play anywhere. He?ll do a lot of blocking, and he?s our deep guy running back kickoffs.?
The short-side tight end is Casey Lane and Andrew Grimaldo is the weak-side tackle. Wood River will run counters out of the single wing and their blocks will be vitally important.
Making all the blocking calls will be Ben Parker, backed up by Tyson Reynoso. The wingback, one of the fastest players on the team, is Scott Bartlett backed up by Cardona.
Fullback is Louie Cibrian, a hard, Larry Csonka-like runner. Tyler Jackson, who gained 106 rushing yards last year, will be Cibrian?s back-up. With Jack-son in the game, Wood River can throw long, according to Martin.
The tailback is Huston Brashears, backed by Werley. As a sophomore in 2003, Brashears played quarterback for the latter part of the season, completing 20-of-48 passes for 213 yards.
?Brashears has just taken over leadership of the team,? said Martin. ?He?s our most improved player. He?s short, small but shifty?snaking his way behind the blockers.?
Assessing the schedule, Wood River has reasonable chances of winning against Mountain Home and Burley. Coach Martin calls those match-ups ?toss-ups.?
Minico ?has its best team in five years,? he said. Hillcrest and Bonneville are unknown quantities, but Tom Harrison?s Pocatello team will be well coached, as always. ?Preston is always good, and Jerry Diehl has 100 kids out at Jerome,? Martin said.
New this year: Game times are 7:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., and adult ticket prices are $5 instead of $4.
WOLVERINE NOTES?The last time Wood River played Mountain Home was in 1981, a 21-14 Tiger win at Mountain Home. The Tigers hold a 9-3 advan-tage in the series?Wood River last winning 10-7 in 1975 at Hailey, and also 13-0 (away) in 1969 and 25-0 (in Hailey) in 1968?.Last year Mountain Home was 4-5 but it was led by All-State linebacker Matt Maurer (137 tackles), now a senior.
2004 Wolverine football
Head coach?Dale Martin (2nd year, 1-7); tight ends and defensive ends.
Offensive coordinator?Dick Springs (Princeton); offensive depth charts.
Defensive coodinator?Jeff Martin (Univ. of Washington/Eastern Oregon); linebackers, weight room assistant, film breakdown, defensive depth charts.
Offensive line?Peter Naumes (BSU); head weight room, academic.
Defensive line?Garth Van Horn; assistant weight room.
Defensive backs/special teams?Larry Swider (Univ. of Pittsburgh/NFL); warm-up and agilities.
Freshman head coach?Ryan Humphries. Assistant?Dusty Pruett.
Craig Werley, Chris Santiago, Matt Jost, Tyson Reynoso, Ben Parker, Luke Chaney, Max Kessler and Billy Kramer.
#4 Louie Cibrian 5-9, 200 RB/DL; #9 Craig Werley 6-0, 170 RB/DB; #34 Chris Santiago 5-8, 195 TE/LB; #42 Matt Jost 6-0, 180 TE/DL; #44 Tyson Reynoso 6-1, 215 RB/TE/LB; #45 Ben Parker 5-5, 155 RB/DE; #50 Able Grimaldo 5-4, 175 OL/LB; #55 Luke Chaney 5-9, 175 OL/DE; #61 Colin O?Donnell 6-1, 185 OL/DL; #68 Max Kessler 5-11, 210 OL/DL; and #84 Billy Kramer 6-1, 225 TE/DE.
#7 Huston Brashears 5-8, 155 RB/DB; #8 Tyler Jackson 6-3, 215 RB/LB; #14 Dema Springs 5-7, 135 K; #20 Scott Bartlett 6-2, 170 RB/DL; #24 Alex Burwell 5-11, 175 TE/LB; #41 Carl Browning 6-0, 190 TE/RB/LB; #51 Dusty Selner 5-9, 235 OL/DL; #63 David Kennedy 5-7, 175 OL/DL; #66 Andrew Grimaldo 5-10, 205 OL/DL; #70 Adrian Grimaldo 5-9, 195 OL/DL; #75 Donald Sluder 5-10, 170 OL/DL; #80 Sidney Watson 5-7, 120 RB/DB; #82 Jason Syms 6-5, 205 TE/DE; #86 Theran Kolp 5-10, 160 OL/DL; and #90 Casey Lane 6-2, 210 TE/DL.
#17 Travis Beckman 5-10, 160 RB/DB; #21 Kenny Cardona 5-11, 175 RB/DB; #22 Carter Stewart 5-9, 150 RB/DB; #23 Jeff Conover 5-10, 150 RB/DB; #32 Mi-cah Floyd 5-11, 145 RB/DB; #33 Doug Beall 5-5, 155 OL/LB; #52 Levi Stennett 5-9, 160 OL/DL; #56 Eric Heywood 5-10, 180 OL/DL; #59 Chris Chapman 6-0, 180 OL/DL; #60 David Pinkard 5-8, 175 OL/DL; #65 Corbin Miniard 6-3, 260 OL/DL; #72 Skyler Vollmer 5-8, 175 OL/DL; #79 Casey Bennett 6-0, 160 OL/DL; and #85 Grayson Thompson 6-0, 145 TE/DB.