A ravenous Camas County High School football squad is ready for vengeance tonight in their first round playoff game against defending state champions the Mackay Miners.
The 8-1 Miners barely escaped defeat earlier this year at the hands of the hungry 5-4 Mushers. Playoff victories by the Miners over the Mushers in 2004 and 2005 have further fueled the Camas County teams' desire for revenge.
Musher coach Randy Jewett said his team is primed, ready and unintimidated.
"It's the most electricity I've felt coming off this team," he said. "It's really exciting here. We've played pretty good football the last month, so we have high expectations."
After a getting off to a rough start this season, the Mushers won their final five games, a good enough finish for the number three ranking in the Sawtooth Conference and for the number three seed in the eight-man quarterfinal State 1A Division 2 playoffs.
Their game tonight is on the Mackay's home turf starting at 4 p.m. The winner of that game will take on the winner of a game set for 1 p.m. Saturday in Carey between the number one seeded 8-1 Carey Panthers and the number four seeded 4-5 Dietrich Blue Devils.
Meanwhile farther north, other Division 2 playoff games are also underway this weekend. Kootenai High School hosts Mullen tonight and Notus hosts Salmon River on Saturday. The eventual winner from those four teams will play the Sawtooth Conference victor for the state title.
But for now, Jewett and his Mushers have their sights set on the Mackay Miners.
The Mushers earlier encounter with Mackay this year was in Fairfield on Sept. 22. Camas County went into the game at 0-3, after losing soundly to Sho-Ban and Carey and narrowly to Dietrich.
The Mushers lost to Mackay too, but came dangerously close to upending the defending state champions in a hotly contested 30-26 defeat.
"That was really the turning point for us," said Jewett. "We played really well that game. A few extra points would have made the difference. They got two and we didn't. They were ranked number one at that point, so it really raised our level of play."
The Mushers played solid football from that point on, soundly winning their final five games of the season against teams from Murtaugh, Shoshone, North Gem, Richfield and Rockland.
Finding themselves tied at 4-3 in league play with North Gem and Dietrich, the Mushers came out on top in a three-team shootout held Monday on neutral ground in Arco.
With a five-game winning streak, Jewett said his team is at it's prime for tonight's match with Mackay.
"I've got five seniors, and they don't want this to be their last game," he said. "It's pretty much on their shoulders. If they can remain as ravenous as they are right now, we'll be in good shape."
Jewett's seniors are quarterback/defensive back Trevor Dalin, running back/defensive back Andy Olson, offensive end/defensive end Logan Ivie, offensive end/defensive end Chase Lee, and center/defensive tackle C.W. Stewart.
Jewett said he has a good bunch of underclassmen to back them up.
"We've got some dang solid juniors that are going to make a good case as well," he said."
Camas County Mushers 2006 Season
Record: 5-4 overall, 4-3 league, 2-2 home, 3-2 away
Offense: 347 total points, 38.6 per game average
Defense: 244 points given up, 27.1 per game
Sept. 1—Away, Sho-Ban 44, Camas County 20
Sept. 8—Away, Carey 58, Camas County 14
Sept. 15—Home, Dietrich 38, Camas County 36
Sept. 22—Home, Mackay 30, Camas County 26
Sept. 29—Home, Camas County 56, Murtaugh 14
Oct. 4—Away, Camas County 47, Shoshone 32
Oct. 13—Home, Camas County 42, North Gem 14
Oct. 20—Away, Camas County 54, Richfield 8
Oct. 27—Away, Camas County 52, Rockland 6
Nov. 3—Away, Camas County vs. Mackay (playoffs)