Rock-solid defense and great field position that produced early touchdowns enabled the Carey High School Panthers to earn their fourth State 1A Division 2 championship game berth in five years Thursday.
Carey (10-1) battered the previously unbeaten Castleford Wolves 20-6 Thursday in the state semi-final football game at Pocatello's Holt Arena. It was the 10th time in 11 games that Carey's defense (7.3 ppg) allowed one TD or less this year.
Senior running back Tim Hoopes (90 yards rushing, 199 all-purpose yards) scored two rushing touchdowns and made a highlight-reel one-handed interception that led to the first Panther TD. Panther senior quarterback Caleb Cenarrusa finished a determined eight-yard TD run for a 20-0 Carey cushion in the third period.
And senior Blair Peck (14 tackles) led a fired-up Panther defense that communicated well throughout the game and fired on all cylinders.
Hoopes said about Carey's preparation, "We learned their plays before the game and wanted to play our hearts out. Everybody seemed to think we wouldn't make it back to the final because we lost all our big guys from last year. But we showed them we could."
Carey graduated eight seniors from last year's 9-2 state third-place team, but the Panthers are 12-3 in the state playoffs over six seasons since 2005—and 5-1 at Holt Arena.
Peck's wildly bouncing squib kickoffs on the Holt turf put the Wolves in deep holes. Castleford started drives beyond its own 40-yard-line only four times in 11 possessions all game. In contrast, Carey's 313-yard offense (26 minutes of possession) started beyond its 40-yard-line nine times in 11 tries.
"Field position gave us a short field for most of the game. We wanted to control the clock, and our defense kept us in good hands," said Carey head coach Lane Kirkland.
"Coach Lee Cook's five-man defensive front plugged every hole and stopped their lead blockers cold. We had tremendous tackling and really contained their quarterback. Our linebackers came up quickly and read their pitches, and we had some awesome open-field tackling by Shane Bingham and Tim Hoopes."
The Panthers, winners of the state eight-man championship in 2006 and 2008 and the second-place team in 2007, advanced to play Garden Valley (10-1) Saturday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. at Eagle High School near Boise.
It will be Carey's ninth championship game appearance and its first outdoors. Carey is 4-4 in its state finals since 1992, three wins coming at Holt Arena and one, 2008, inside Moscow's Kibbie Dome.
Coach Kirkland said, "A lot of people were saying that our game against Castleford was the state championship game. I never felt that. The one coming up against Garden Valley is the real one, and it'll be a fight."
Garden Valley, a four-point loser at home to defending state champion Salmon River of Riggins (9-2) earlier this season, gained revenge with a 24-22 home semi-final triumph Saturday. Garden Valley seized an 18-0 halftime lead on two touchdown runs by Casey Hileman (45 carries, 283 yards) and held off Salmon River's 16-point fourth quarter rally.
Hileman, a record-setting senior, has nearly 3,000 rushing yards this season and 41 touchdowns—most of Garden Valley's 44.7 ppg offense. He's also a top tackler on defense.
But Carey's defense showed itself capable of stopping another team's go-to player when it stepped up and shut down Castleford's 5-10, 160-pound senior scatback Cody Quinn.
Added Kirkland about Thursday's Veterans Day victory, "Castleford is a great team that brought everything to the table but our kids have wanted it badly all season long.
"Their past experience in the dome gave them confidence and desire. We didn't want the third-place green-colored trophy that was hard to take last year. We wanted a chance for the first-place blue trophy.
"It was a great win for our community and school. It gave us a chance to see if we can win another title."
Winning its sixth consecutive game, Carey's defense stuffed Castleford's 53.3 ppg offense and yielded only 190 total yards including 33 rushes for 87 yards in the running game. Quinn was held to 31 yards rushing on 15 carries, no first downs and no touchdowns.
Kirkland said, "There was a lot of coaching on the field by our kids. They were high-fiving and talking all game long. Just a lot of great teamwork and belief, and they've done it all year. Castleford played into our hands, though. They didn't have a counter and no play action, pretty one-dimensional.
"But our kids pressed their quarterback all game long and our defensive backs covered the pass so well. Glen Andrews (7 tackles, 3 sacks) had a great night as a sophomore, and (senior) Joe Laidlaw rushed very well from the other side."
Although Hoopes opened the game with a 31-yard kickoff return and Carey quickly moved to the Castleford 24, the first Panther intercepted pass in three games stopped the drive. But Carey's defense bottled up the Wolves with great penetration from the get-go.
Flushed from the pocket by Carey's relentless pass rush, Wolves senior quarterback Kale Weekes overthrew Quinn just beyond midfield and Hoopes made his one-handed interception, returning the ball nine yards. Hoopes caught a third-and-four middle seam pass from QB Cenarrusa for 32 yards to the Wolves 14.
After a holding penalty, Cenarrusa scampered 12 yards on a keeper, then Hoopes bounced off a Wolves tackler and turned on the afterburners for a 12-yard touchdown dash at 0:34.
"I felt like we needed to score early," said Kirkland.
Carey, indeed, scored on two of its first three possessions—the Panther defense getting riled up when Peck's squib kickoff bounced into Quinn's hands at the Wolves 23 and Carey's Baley Barg and Dillon Cenarrusa slammed him just as he caught it. Castleford went four-and-out, and Hoopes returned a short punt 15 yards.
Kirkland said, "Castleford made some mistakes in its punting game, and we had a couple of key stops on fourth down to stop their drives."
Unfortunately, Carey junior 150-pound running back Charlie Rivera suffered a concussion on a crackback block by Wolves 255-pound senior Zach Frey during Cenarrusa's third-down scramble. You could hear a pin drop in the arena, but Rivera finally got up and walked off—mad at being removed for the rest of the game.
It produced a big fourth-and-five at the Wolves 38, with Barg entering the game to pass block. The Carey players decided on their own play, coach Kirkland said, and it worked pretty well. Cenarrusa had plenty of time behind Barg's block to find Hoopes all alone on a down-and-out left pattern for 22 yards to the Wolves 16.
Four plays later Hoopes scored his second TD plunging behind Carey's line blocking of Barg, sophomore Garrett Lee, junior center Chance Chavez and senior guard Peck.
Talking about Carey's reaction to Rivera's injury, Kirkland said, "All year long the kids haven't focused on the negative stuff, they've focused on the positive things as well as any Carey team ever has. This squad has adapted to that way of thinking. They take responsibility for their jobs and just step up and do them."
Leading 12-0 at halftime, Carey scored on its first possession of the second half. After a defensive stop, QB Cenarrusa handed the ball to Rivera's substitute Shane Bingham four times and Hoopes on four other occasions before keeping it and surging straight ahead from the shotgun formation, 20-0.
"I think the key drive was our first drive of the third quarter that gave us a 20-0 lead," said Kirkland. "It took the wind out of them and they lost their sense of urgency."
Castleford regained some urgency when the Wolves finally scored with four minutes left. And it took a 36-yard pass from Weekes to Quinn to make that score possible, only because another huge Carey pass rush flushed Weekes from the pocket on third-and-15 and he spotted Quinn all alone.
But it was too little, too late as Carey milked the clock. The Panthers (197 rushing yards) finished with 313 yards in offense to Castleford's 190.
See today's Express Web site for extended Carey football coverage and statistics from the Castleford semi-final game.
PANTHER NOTES—Coach Kirkland felt good about Carey's running sweeps out of the shotgun formation against Castleford, and he also felt good "because there were a lot of plays we didn't use against Castleford....Rivera has undergone the necessary concussion testing and said he has been cleared to play Saturday against Garden Valley at Eagle...With Kirkland attending a wedding last Saturday, Carey principal John Peck drove over to Garden Valley with three of the Panther players to watch the game with Salmon River.
The team's confidence grew as the Castleford game went along, Kirkland said. At one point, leading 20-0 and gaining possession at the Wolves 44 after another sack by Glen Andrews, Carey had a third-and-eight and Kirkland called his first timeout with 1:14 left in the third. Kirkland said, "It was third-and-long and I just wanted the kids to be mentally prepared. Well, I got out to the huddle and they said, what are you doing? They started chewing my butt because they had already called their own play. They didn't convert the third down or the fourth, but at that point I knew this ball game was in our hands."
With four state eight-man football titles apiece, Carey and Council lead the list of multiple state championship winners since Gem State eight-man titles were first determined starting back in 1984. There have been 32 first-place trophies awarded. Here's the list of multiple state winners: Carey 4, Council 4, Garden Valley 3, Salmon River 3, Deary 3, Kendrick 3, North Gem of Bancroft 2 and Oakley 2.
Carey senior Tim Hoopes, a transfer from South Fremont of St. Anthony, played on the Holt Arena turf last year for the Cougars in their 31-28 "Round of 16" playoff triumph over Snake River. South Fremont then lost to Weiser 21-12. But resilient Snake River, the 1998-2002 state champion, made it all the way back to the State 3A championship game playing defending champion Fruitland Saturday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. at Bronco Stadium in Boise.
At 40 years old, Holt Arena is the oldest enclosed stadium on a college campus in the country and the second-oldest overall, predated only by the Houston Astrodome (1965), which isn't now in operation.
Garden Valley last captured a state eight-man grid title 20 years ago in 1990. It capped a series of three state championships in four years for coach Sam Nelson's Wolverines (1987, 1989 and 1990). In 1990 Garden Valley (10-0) finished a 20-game winning streak with a 42-22 championship game win over Kendrick at Moscow's Kibbie Dome. It was the third road win of the playoffs for Garden Valley. The Wolverines beat North Gem 56-15 at Emmett in the quarterfinals and Rockland 40-0 at Holt Arena in the semi-finals. First-team state honors for Garden Valley went to 6-0 senior wide receiver Chris Chesnut, 6-5, 190-pound tailback Jason Torpey, senior offensive linemen Joe Dovel and Bryan Brutsman, and senior linebacker Bodie Huston. Garden Valley's other two state championships were both in the Kibbie Dome—48-22 over Rockland in 1987 and 64-14 over Highland-Craigmont in 1989.
Salmon River had buried Garden Valley 57-26 in last year's state quarterfinals en route to the 2009 title over Mackay in Pocatello. But the 2010 Wolverines (492 points scored, 162 against, 45-16 average) enjoyed an excellent regular season and opened the playoffs with a 48-0 road win over Kootenai Nov. 6. Hileman (2,813 rushing yards, 41 TD) tallied four touchdowns and had 170 rushing yards in that one, then added 283 rushing yards and three TDs against Salmon River.
CAREY Line Score
State 1A Division 2 semi-final, Nov. 11 at Holt Arena, Pocatello
Carey 20, Castleford 6
CASTLEFORD. 0 0 0 6 6
CAREY 6 6 8 0 20
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 12-yard run (pass failed); 0:34 1st (6-0 C)
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 2-yard run (pass failed); 7:49 2nd (12-0 C)
CAREY—Caleb Cenarrusa, 8-yard run (Dillon Cenarrusa, pass from Caleb Cenarrusa); 6:25 3rd (20-0 C)
CASTLEFORD—Adam Machado, 1-yard run (pass intercepted); 4:05 4th (20-6 C)
KEY STATS CASTLEFORD CAREY
Offensive plays 63 67
Time of possession 22:18 25:42
1st downs, rush 2 7
1st downs, pass 4 2
1st downs, penalty 1 0
1st downs, total 7 9
Rushes, yards 33-87 43-197
Yards per carry 2.6 4.6
Fumbles lost 0 0
Completions, passes 8-18 6-17
Completion percentage 44% 35%
Passing yards 88 72
Yards per completion 11.0 12.0
Intercepted by 2 2
Sacks by, yards 2-11 4-20
Returns, yards 5-35 3-55
Total yards gained 190 313
3rd down efficiency 4-14 4-14
4th down efficiency 1-5 2-7
Penalties 4-35 5-47
Punts, yardage 4-114 2-69
Yards per punt 28.5 34.5
Rushing—Tim Hoopes 19-90, 3 1sts, 2 TD; Caleb Cenarrusa 10-46, 1 1st, 1 TD; Shane Bingham 11-46, 2 1sts; Charlie Rivera 3-15, 1 1st.
Passing—Caleb Cenarrusa 6-17, 72 yards, 2 1sts, 1 conv., 2 interceptions.
Receiving—Tim Hoopes 2-54, 2 1sts; Shane Bingham 1-9; Dillon Cenarrusa 2-9, 1 conv.; Charlie Rivera 1-0.
Interceptions (2)—Tim Hoopes 2 with 9 yards in returns.
Sacks (4)—Glen Andrews 3-20; Tim Hoopes 1-0.
Kickoff returns—Tim Hoopes 1-31.
Punt returns—Tim Hoopes 1-15.
All-purpose yardage—Tim Hoopes 199.
Tackles (69)—Blair Peck 14, Chance Chavez 11, Tim Hoopes 8, Shane Bingham 7, Glen Andrews 7, Francisco Gamino 6, Joe Laidlaw 5, Dillon Cenarrusa 4, Caleb Cenarrusa 4, Baley Barg 3.
Rushing—Kale Weekes 9-33, 2 1sts; Cody Quinn 15-31; Adam Machado 6-24, 1 TD; Mitch Howard 2-0; Clayton Kline 1, -1.
Passing—Kale Weekes 5-13, 76 yards, 4 1sts, 2 interceptions; Mitch Howard 3-5, 12 yards.
Receiving—Cody Quinn 4-48, 2 1sts; Adam Machado 3-31, 2 1sts; Mitch Howard 1-9.
Interceptions (2)—Kale Weekes 1 with a 10-yard return; Clayton Kline 1.
Sacks (2)—Cody Hansen 1-8; Zach Frey 1-3.
Kickoff returns—Cody Quinn 2-19; Mitch Howard 1-0.
Punt returns—Cody Quinn 1-6.
All-purpose yardage—Cody Quinn 104.
Tackles (68)—Clayton Kline 11, Kale Weekes 11, Zach Frey 9, Tyler Hansen 8, Mitch Howard 8, Cody Quinn 7, Cody Hansen 7, Adam Machado 4, Samoa Etelu 3.
Carey Football Composite 2010
Opponents 14 40 8 18 80 (7.3)
Carey 196 192 54 34 476 (43.3)
RESULTS (10-1 overall, 4-1 home, 6-0 away, 5-0 Sawtooth Conference North)
Aug. 27 (Away) Carey 56, Idaho City 6
Sept. 3 (Home) Carey 50, Raft River 0
Sept. 10 (Away) Carey 40, Hagerman 6
Sept. 17 (Home) Carey 46, Camas County 0
Sept. 24 (Home) Pahranagat Valley (Nev.) 44, Carey 28
Oct. 1 (Away) Carey 54, Clark County 6
Oct. 7 (Away) Carey 42, Dietrich 6
Oct. 15 (Home) Carey 34, Mackay 0
Oct. 28 (Away) Carey 60, Richfield 6
Nov. 6 (Home, 1A Division 2 playoffs) Carey 46, Rockland 0
Nov. 11 (Away, Holt, 1A Division 2 semi-final) Carey 20, Castleford 6
SCORING TD CONV PTS.
Tim Hoopes 23 6 150
Charlie Rivera 9 8 70
Caleb Cenarrusa 10 4 68
Shane Bingham 5 6 42
Dillon Cenarrusa 5 2 34
Brandon Dilworth 3 0 18
Jordan Dilworth 3 0 18
Baley Barg 2 2 16
Luis Garcia 2 0 12
Jack Cenarrusa 1 2 10
Joe Laidlaw 1 1 8
Christian Zarate 1 0 6
Austin Hennefer 1 0 6
Tori Alvarez 1 0 6
Lynn Mecham 0 2 4
Blair Peck 0 2 4
Note: Joe Laidlaw and Glen Andrews had 2-point safeties.
Touchdown passes—Caleb Cenarrusa 15, Jordan Dilworth 3, Tim Hoopes 2. Conversion passes—Caleb Cenarrusa 16, Tim Hoopes 2, Jordan Dilworth 2. Notes—Carey has scored in 31 of 37 quarters....Carey has successfully made 35 of 65 conversions (53% success rate)....Carey has scored 67 TD—40 on runs from scrimmage, 20 on passes, 5 on defense, 2 on kickoff or punt returns.