High school football returns to Carey's Derrick Parke Memorial Field Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. when the Castleford Wolves visit last year's State 1A Division 2 runner-up Carey.
The first eight-man football game of the fall campaign will showcase a Carey program that has been nearly unbeatable with a 21-3 record, 14-0 mark in league action and 1095-328 edge over foes in scoring since 2006.
Eighth-year Carey coach Lane Kirkland would like to keep it that way and make the team's record spotless in 2008.
Kirkland said Friday at the end of pre-season drills, "We had the kids run up to the top of Queens' Crown last night and come up with five team goals they want to achieve.
"The main goal is to regain the state championship. If we stay focused and take it one game at a time, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to get back there (to the title game)."
Kirkland said, "Another goal is we want to win state and go undefeated. It's been since 1998 (an 11-0 state championship season) since Carey has accomplished that. We need to get that started again and we might as well shoot for it."
Carey (10-2 last fall, losing 46-42 to Salmon River of Riggins in the state title game) lost eight important seniors from last year's team. Kirkland and assistant coaches Lee Cook and Lane Durtschi have welcomed back only three seniors, which would seem to preclude a realistic chance at going unbeaten.
Not in Kirkland's thinking. He was very proud of last year's defense that yielded only 11.8 points per game. The coach said, "Although we lost eight great seniors, we return five of the starters from defense. We know defense wins big games."
Besides the three seniors, Carey's roster of 27 active players includes 10 juniors, nine sophomores and five freshmen. The Panther juniors saw plenty of playing time. But the big thing about Carey's new team has to do with its physical size.
Size, as in strong, heavy players. That's uncommon for a Carey grid program that normally has to compensate for its 130- and 140-pound players with desire, speed, true grit and tackling skills. Kirkland said, "It's one of the biggest Carey teams in maybe 15 years."
He added, "These kids are pretty big. They have grown in size and maturity. We have 17 kids over 165 pounds, and 14 of them over 185. Our running backs, Heith Adamson and Gonzalo Zarate, are 190 and 185, which gives us a true fullback and a true fullback/halfback.
"Although we have size, we still have good speed. We should have some great open-field blockers because they're pretty fast, as big as they are."
Carey scored 46 of its 75 touchdowns last year on runs from scrimmage and the Panther running game should be productive once again. Kirkland said, "Our running game should be strong." Adamson scored 14 TDs and 102 points last fall. Zarate had five TDs and 36 points. They'll be Carey's big guns on offense.
Junior Dillon Simpson will take over for his older brother D.J. Simpson as quarterback, with junior Trevor Peck the back-up signal caller.
Big guys across the offensive line, from left to right, are 190-pound junior Wacey Barg, 220-pound junior Tyler Chavez, 240-pound senior center Carlson, 190-pound junior Todd Peck and 160-pound Trevor Peck.
Zarate will do the placekicking and punting. "Gonzalo's leg appears even stronger this year," said Kirkland about his strong-legged kicker.
Defensive coordinator Lee Cook "likes to run a 4-2," said Kirkland, but "we'll also work on a few other defensive sets."
The defensive linemen will include Wacey Barg, sophomores Jacy Baird and Blair Peck, Carlson, Trevor Peck and Todd Peck, and Zarate. Adamson along with sophomores Shane Bingham and Antonio Gamino will be linebackers. Simpson and Trevor Peck will fill the defensive secondary.
Looking at the Sawtooth Conference, Kirkland said that Dietrich (7-3) has the most returning experience, although the 2007 state playoff semi-finalist Blue Devils graduated key skill players. "Mackay lost a few skill players and all its line. And you never count out Richfield," said Kirkland.
All in all, Kirkland said, "We're looking forward to another good season of Panther football." Looking ahead to Friday's season-opening game:
The Castleford Wolves are coming off back-to-back 4-5 seasons, but the Wolves were a state playoff team with an 8-2 record in 2005 and have a long history of solid football teams.
Carey hasn't beaten Castleford since blanking the Wolves 50-0 in Carey in 1998. From 1999-2002, Castleford won four straight Sawtooth Conference titles and was 38-3 in league play. The Wolves buried Carey four straight times in that span by a combined 178-46 score including 54-8 and 54-8 wins during Kirkland's first two coaching seasons of 2001 and 2002.
The teams haven't met since 2002 because the Wolves moved up to the Magic Valley Conference for bigger 1A schools.
Kirkland said, "Castleford doesn't have a lot of kids out, they're rebuilding, but they have some pretty big-sized kids, monsters in fact, in the 230- and 240-pound range."
Here's the roster:
Carey High School varsity: Coaches—Lane Kirkland (8th year, 53-16), Lee Cook and Lane Durtschi.
Seniors (3)—Heith Adamson, Andrew Carlson and Jared Cenarrusa.
Juniors (10)—Todd Peck, Brett Adamson, Trevor Peck, Wacey Barg, Tyler Chavez, Dillon Simpson, Gonzalo Zarate, Sean Ackley, Tyler Willis and Hunter Malarkey. Brad Peck (back) is injured.
Sophomores (9)—Shane Bingham, Caleb Cenarrusa, Jacy Baird, Lynn Mecham, Blair Peck, Brandon Dilworth, Antonio Gamino, Joe Laidlaw and Garrett Gardiner.
Freshmen (5)—Charlie Rivera, Jack Cenarrusa, Dillon Cenarrusa, Adrian Alvarez and Chance Chavez. Baley Barg (broken leg) is injured.