On Milk Bowl State Championship Saturday, a morning snowstorm gave way to a dry afternoon—but Carey High School football coach Lane Kirkland still got plenty wet.
Carey senior co-captains Blair Peck and Caleb Cenarrusa surprised coach Kirkland by drenching him with high-quality water poured from a bucket in happy celebration along the sideline of Eagle High School's Thunder Stadium.
Then Kirkland, normally reserved and focused during games, pumped his arms high in pure joy. His team's 62-36 victory over the Garden Valley Wolverines in the State 1A Division 2 eight-man championship was the end of a journey and the completion of a vow.
"We realized what we had accomplished," said Kirkland. "We had dedicated our season to Austin Hennefer. We had promised the Hennefer family the night before that we would bring home a championship. We made commitments to each other and to the Hennefers.
"We didn't panic when we fell behind and just went out and got the job done."
It was Carey's fifth state football championship, a new record by an Idaho school in eight-man football. When athletic programs build sustained excellence and win titles by the handful, they call the fifth "one for the thumb." And it was the third state grid title in five years for Kirkland's Panthers.
They rallied to win it.
Falling behind 12-0 in the first six minutes, Carey got the spark it needed from a 72-yard TD punt return by senior Tim Hoopes and a 77-yard rushing score by junior Charlie Rivera.
The Panthers (11-1) scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions, built a 46-28 lead, got stronger as the game progressed and held off Garden Valley (10-2) by 26 points.
Hoopes, a newcomer to Carey football from South Fremont, was the title game's unofficial Most Valuable Player with four of Carey's eight touchdowns, one TD pass and a team high 15 tackles. The team's leading scorer for 2010 rushed for 146 yards on 24 carries with 281 all-purpose yards.
The game developed into a grand battle between Hoopes and Garden Valley senior Casey Hileman (3 TD, 394 all-purpose yards, 15 tackles).
But in the final accounting, Carey was more solid up-and-down its lineup and better conditioned. The Panthers wore down the Wolverines by a 32-8 margin in the second half and denied Garden Valley its first state championship in 20 years.
And Carey made seven of its eight two-point conversions, a season high. Quietly but effectively, the Panthers amassed 632 total yards—a school title game record. Carey was balanced offensively with 302 rushing yards, 111 passing yards and 219 yards in returns. Special teams were a big asset.
So was character.
To a man, Carey players and coaches said they dedicated their season to Hennefer, the 15-year-old sophomore football team member who died in a car accident Oct. 26. Dennis Hennefer, Austin's father, talked to Carey players Friday before they headed over to Eagle for the big game early Saturday.
His words carried weight.
"When we went into half leading 30-28, we reminded the kids of the talk by Austin's father," said Kirkland. "We were able to dominate the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter and move the ball at will. It was a great day for football and a wonderful afternoon."
Now a three-time state champion coach, Kirkland said, "Every championship team is different, but one thing is the same—the team concept and the ability of each athlete to trust each other and the coach and work together as one.
"We trusted this group of kids and knew they would do their jobs. They were mentally tough. All season long the team focused on the positives instead of the negatives. They looked ahead to the next play instead of dwelling on what had happened just before."
But the team's ultimate success was molded by loss—the sudden death of Hennefer and a 44-28 loss to Nevada power Pahranagat Valley Sept. 24.
Co-captain Peck said, "That Pahranagat Valley game (when Carey was outscored 20-0 after half) was an eye-opener for us about how unconditioned we were. We decided that until we could play a full four quarters against a good team, we wouldn't be where we wanted to be. And, since Oct. 26, we've all been playing for something more than ourselves."
Kirkland added about scoring seven consecutive times against the Wolverines, "As we went back and forth in the game against Garden Valley, I thought that whoever got the ball last might be the team to win the game. I felt we needed to keep pushing and pushing and score as much as we could.
"That Pahranagat Valley game taught us a lot about how the second half is important in winning the big ball games. We felt we needed to be in the best shape possible against a high-quality team so we could bring more intensity after halftime and go out and finish a game."
Whatever it took, Carey focused on the immediate task and found a way to win. Big plays sustained the Panthers in the first half against Garden Valley, and then Carey controlled the clock for 16 of 24 minutes after intermission.
Kirkland said, "After we fell behind, I challenged the kids to win the second quarter, and then win the third quarter and fourth quarter. I felt if we did that, we could win the game.
"I was real proud of our offensive line (center Chance Chavez, guards Garrett Lee and Blair Peck, ends Shane Bingham and Dillon Cenarrusa). We've been a team that executes, has finesse, and uses screens and big plays. We haven't been a real power team. We were in the second half."
The game began haltingly.
Garden Valley (256 passing yards) made three third-down conversions on short passes and scored first on an 11-play, 66-yard drive. The subsequent kickoff was almost out-of-bounds, but Rivera elected to pick it up and run. He was tackled and coughed up a fumble. Hileman scored his first of three TDs and made it 12-0.
"Things weren't going our way. All season long we've been the team to score first," said Kirkland. Peck suggested Carey was flustered because its players would have preferred to play the title game in a college stadium and felt they had been relegated to Eagle's field.
But they grew to like the field turf at Jeker Field. "Once we got into the game, we realized we had to play," Peck said.
Trailing by two scores, Carey's defense needed a stop and got it when Peck and Hoopes lassoed Hileman for short yardage on third-and-six, forcing Hileman's first punt. Hileman cranked out a 41-yard line drive that Hoopes caught on the run at the Carey 28-yard-line and began navigating.
Hoopes swept to the right sideline and broke two tackles at the Garden Valley 25. He kept going but fumbled the ball forward just as he reached the goal line. Amazingly, it was Hoopes' first fumble.
The burning question was: Could he recover his fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, or would the bouncing ball leave the end zone for a touchback and nullify the 72-yard punt return? Hoopes chased it madly and, with his knees firmly in the end zone, caught the ball before it hit the ground out the back of the end zone.
Kirkland said about Carey's first score at the very end of the first quarter, "I never saw panic in our kids, but I know Tim felt a sense of urgency at that point—that he needed to score on that punt return. I think after that, our defense started to focus much better."
Defensive ends Joe Laidlaw (9 tackles) and Glen Andrews (6 tackles) started penetrating better and applying pressure as Garden Valley went four-and-out for the first time. Hileman punted again, Hoopes brought it back 27 yards behind a fierce Andrews block and Carey's runners punched it in from the Wolverine 29-yard-line.
Carey's 14-12 lead didn't last long because of Hileman's game-high 55-yard run from scrimmage and a TD plunge by sophomore quarterback Kavik Fairburn for a 20-14 Garden Valley cushion. But if you take away that long run and Hileman's 43-yard TD after half, the Wolverine star was contained to 67 yards on 23 carries.
Rivera, still smarting from his lost fumble, returned the kickoff 17 yards and got the call on first down from the Panther 23. Headed left, he took a pitch from the three-back shotgun.
The pitch was a little behind Rivera and he had to wait as his blockers strung out the Wolverine defenders. Hemmed in behind the line, he waited for an opening and finally escaped down the sideline.
He may have fooled Garden Valley with his speed, because Rivera accelerated for his 77-yard touchdown run. That score and the first of three two-point conversion passes caught by senior Shane Bingham put Carey ahead 22-20. The Panthers never trailed again.
Kirkland said, "Charlie kept trusting that the outside would open up for him. I don't know if anyone ever touched him. He brought it full throttle and Garden Valley didn't catch him. The play helped Charlie rebound from the fumble."
Carey's 22-point second quarter stabilized the situation after a scary first quarter when Garden Valley outgained Carey 111-45 with a 24-9 advantage in offensive plays and nine minutes of first quarter possession.
But Carey needed to stop Garden Valley's passing game. Carey's leader Peck acknowledged the Panther pass defense has been a work in progress all season. Peck said, "They did beat us with some deep passes, but at halftime we got our heads screwed on straight."
He added, "We knew we were getting the ball first in the second half. We knew we had to get a score and get a stop."
Rivera did his part with a 29-yard kickoff return behind Dillon Cenarrusa's block. And Hoopes went to work, big time, with 47 rushing yards on the six-play, 61-yard drive including a seven-yard TD run. He avoided Hileman's tackle at the line and hit the hole, 38-28.
The Carey defense held Garden Valley four-and-out, then Carey pushed 56 yards in eight plays for a 46-28 lead—Caleb Cenarrusa's 23-yard swing pass to Bingham (5 catches, 60 yards) the big gainer on third-and-seven from midfield. Hoopes broke three tackles on his 12-yard touchdown gallop.
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Lee Cook's halftime adjustment in pass coverage helped Carey plug some holes. Kirkland said, "We had the backside linebacker cover the middle on their passing routes." Bingham and Caleb Cenarrusa both picked off Wolverine passes in the fourth.
"Our defensive backs did a tremendous job in stopping their drives with three interceptions," said Kirkland.
Sprinking a few passing plays in with their power offense helped Carey players keep the Wolverines off balance. For instance, one play after Caleb Cenarrusa got the wind knocked out of him on a hard pass rush, the quarterback pitched to Hoopes, who tossed a 28-yard TD pass to Bingham on third-and-15, 54-36.
"In the second half we needed to get the ball in the open field and let our backs do their stuff," said Kirkland.
The crowning touch was a 10-play, 80-yard drive covering five minutes after Bingham's second interception of the game. Rivera tallied Carey's final TD of a memorable season on a nine-yard sweep behind ferocious lead blocks by Hoopes and Caleb Cenarrusa.
"It was a team effort for everything this season," said co-captain Cenarrusa. "We came together and got closer and closer as the season went on. It means everything to me."
See the Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 Local Life sections for 22 of photographer David Seelig's images from the title contest.
PANTHER NOTES—Tim Hoopes finished the season with 1,063 rushing yards on 127 carries for an average of 8.4 yards per carry. He scored a touchdown in each of Carey's 12 games. His four TDs in Saturday's title game equaled the four TDs Hoopes scored in the 34-0 win over Mackay.....His counterpart on Garden Valley, 6-0, 180-pound senior Casey Hileman, ended the campaign with 2,978 rushing yards in 12 games and 44 touchdowns. He had been averaging 256 rushing yards a game before Carey's defense held Hileman to 165.....Garden Valley (10-2) finished the season with 528 points (44.0 ppg) and 224 (18.7) on defense.....Senior co-captains meeting at the center of the field for Saturday's final were, from Carey, Blair Peck, Caleb Cenarrusa, Shane Bingham and Tim Hoopes and, from Garden Valley, Casey Hileman, Charlie Johnson, Chad Jones and Dylan Bass.
Carey's five-season record improved to 53-6 for a .898 winning percentage.....The Panthers are now 5-4 in their championship game appearances since 1992.....The championship game was a battle of the license plates between 5B (Blaine County) and 6B (Boise County)......Caleb Cenarrusa, this season's third-leading scorer with 76 points, ended up his three-year Panther career with 19 TD and 8 conversions for 130 points, along with 27 touchdown passes and 25 conversion passes.....Shane Bingham, the fourth-leading scorer with 54 points, had career totals of 10 TDs and 12 conversions for 84 points.....
Hoopes ended up a touchdown shy of tying Jonathan Rivera for the all-time Carey single-season scoring record. All-time career scoring king Rivera (73 TD, 17 conversions, 472 points) tallied 29 TDs and 4 conversions for 182 points in his 2000 senior season. Rivera scored at least one TD in all 18 Carey games in 1999 and 2000. Hoopes finished the 2010 season with 27 TD (19 rushing, 5 TD catches, 2 fumble returns, 1 punt return) and 7 conversions for 176 points. Next highest: Lyman Kirkland 170 points in 1993, Heith Adamson 166 points in 2008, Greg Edwards 160 points in 1998, Matt Parke 152 points in 1991 and Derrick Parke 144 points in 1994. Remarkably, Derrick Parke tallied 64 of Carey's 148 playoff points during that first state title season. This year, Hoopes had 54 of Carey's 128 playoff points.....Jonathan Rivera's younger brother Charlie Rivera boasted Carey's longest TD run from scrimmage this fall with his 77-yard romp against Garden Valley. Rivera, a junior, was Carey's second-leading scorer with 11 TD, 84 points.
Austin Hennefer was born July 7, 1995, about seven months after Carey won its first-ever state football championship 58-26 over Deary at Holt Arena in Pocatello Nov. 17, 1994. The son of Dennis and MaryAnn Hennefer had five brothers, three who were important members of Carey grid teams from 1994-2002. Jordan Hennefer made 11 tackles in Carey's 1994 state title game win over Deary. Logan Hennefer was on the 1998 state championship team that rallied past Deary 44-42 at Holt Arena. And Shawn Hennefer (112 points in 2001, 110 in 2002) was the leading scorer on coach Lane Kirkland's first two Carey grid teams, in 2001 and 2002.
Carey lost only one fumble in three playoff games. In the playoffs the Panthers out-rushed their opponents 612-449, out-passed foes by a slim 377-376 margin and had a big 372-153 cushion in returns. Carey had a sizable advantage in playoff total yardage by a 1,350 to 946 count.
The State 1A eight-man football championships presented by the Idaho High School Activities Association have awarded 34 trophies since 1984 with Carey winning five times and Council four to lead all Gem State small school teams. Tenth-year Carey coach Lane Kirkland (85-19, .817) has now won three times, tying him for Idaho's best all-time eight-man coaching mark with Garden Valley's Sam Nelson (1987, 1989, 1990), Deary's Darrah Eggers (1993, 1995, 1997) and Council's Larry Russell (1984, 1985, 1992)......
Each of Carey's five state championship teams scored 500 points or better, with this year's winners finishing squarely in the middle—but with their own distinctions. For instance, Carey's 632 yards gained in Saturday's championship game was 42 yards better than the 2008 champs who had 590 total yards including 383 on the ground in the 46-12 championship game victory over Kootenai at Moscow. Carey's 62 points Saturday was the most of all the five Panther kings, exceeding the 58 points back in 1994........Carey's final total of 116 points on defense (9.7 per game) was second only to the 1994 squad (102 points, 8.5 per game), and the playoff defensive tally of just 42 points (14.0 ppg) was second only to the 2008 state champs (32, 10.7 ppg).....Making two-point conversions at a 58% success rate over the course of the 2010 campaign was second only to the 2008 team (62%)......And, of course, each state championship team found ways to score in just about every quarter of every game. The 1994 winners scored in 45 of 49 quarters. The 1998 champs scored in 37 of 43 quarters. The 2006 winners succeeded in 41 of 46 quarters, and the 2008 kingpins in 40 of 45 quarters. This year's team scored TDs in 35 of the 41 quarters. They outscored their opponents 48-14 in the second half of playoff games.
The only Carey comeback to rival Saturday's rally from an early 12-0 deficit occurred in the 1998 final, when quarterback Mike Cenarrusa (11-for-17, 190 passing yards, 302 all-purpose yards, 13 tackles) brought Carey back from 24-8 and 30-16 holes to beat Deary 44-42. Cenarrusa, who attended Saturday's game in Eagle, is a second cousin to Carey quarterback Caleb Cenarrusa.......Here are the records and scoring totals of Carey's five state champs: 1994, 12-0 with 524 points (43.7) and 102 defense (8.5); 1998, 11-0 with 524 points (47.6) and 130 defense (11.9); 2006, 11-1 with 555 points (46.3) and 186 defense (15.5); 2008, 12-0 with a school-record 572 points (47.7) and 148 defense (12.3); and 2010, 11-1 with 538 points (44.8) and 116 defense (9.7)......Three of Carey's championship game victories came indoors at Holt Arena, one was indoors at Moscow's Kibbie Dome and Saturday's was outdoors at Eagle High School's Thunder Stadium's Jeker Field. It was only the second time Carey played outdoors for the title, the other time in 2007 when Salmon River nipped Carey 46-42 at Boise's Bronco Stadium.
CAREY Line Score
State 1A Division 2 championship, Nov. 20 at Thunder Stadium, Eagle
Carey 62, Garden Valley 36
GARDEN VALLEY. 12 16 8 0 36
CAREY 8 22 24 8 62
GARDEN VALLEY—Dylan Bass, 24-yard pass from Casey Hileman (pass failed); 7:14 1st (6-0 GV)
GARDEN VALLEY—Casey Hileman, 18-yard pass from Kavik Fairburn (run failed); 6:19 1st (12-0 GV)
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 72-yard punt return (Caleb Cenarrusa run); 0:30 1st (12-8 GV)
CAREY—Caleb Cenarrusa, 1-yard run (pass intercepted); 7:21 2nd (14-12 C)
GARDEN VALLEY—Kavik Fairburn, 1-yard run (Nathan Updike, pass from Casey Hileman); 6:36 2nd (20-14 GV)
CAREY—Charlie Rivera, 77-yard run (Shane Bingham, pass from Caleb Cenarrusa); 6:12 2nd (22-20 C)
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 8-yard run (Charlie Rivera, pass from Caleb Cenarrusa); 1:22 2nd (30-20 C)
GARDEN VALLEY—Casey Hileman, 5-yard pass from Kavik Fairburn (Dylan Bass, pass from Hileman); 0:00 2nd (30-28 C)
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 7-yard run (Shane Bingham, pass from Caleb Cenarrusa); 9:46 3rd (38-28 C)
CAREY—Tim Hoopes, 12-yard run (Shane Bingham, pass from Tim Hoopes); 5:08 3rd (46-28 C)
GARDEN VALLEY—Casey Hileman, 43-yard run (Hileman run); 4:25 3rd (46-36 C)
CAREY—Shane Bingham, 28-yard pass from Tim Hoopes (Hoopes run); 1:57 3rd (54-36 C)
CAREY—Charlie Rivera, 9-yard run (Dillon Cenarrusa, pass from Caleb Cenarrusa); 3:08 4th (62-36 C)
KEY STATS GARDEN VALLEY CAREY
Offensive plays 76 72
Time of possession 23:06 24:54
1st downs, rush 7 9
1st downs, pass 9 5
1st downs, penalty 1 0
1st downs, total 17 14
Rushes, yards 37-208 49-302
Yards per carry 5.6 6.2
Fumbles lost 0 1
Completions, passes 19-29 11-17
Completion percentage 67% 65%
Passing yards 256 111
Yards per completion 13.5 10.0
Intercepted by 2 3
Sacks by, yards 0-0 0-0
Returns, yards 8-68 9-219
Total yards gained 532 632
3rd down efficiency 8-12 3-8
4th down efficiency 1-1 2-3
Penalties 4-26 3-15
Punts, yardage 3-117 1-25
Yards per punt 39.0 25.0
Rushing—Tim Hoopes 24-146, 5 1sts, 3 TD, 1 conv.; Charlie Rivera 13-138, 2 1sts, 2 TD; Caleb Cenarrusa 10-20, 2 1sts, 1 conv.; Jordan Dilworth 2, -1.
Passing—Caleb Cenarrusa 9-15, 80 yards, 5 1sts, 4 conv., 2 interceptions; Tim Hoopes 2-2, 31 yards, 1 TD, 1 conv.
Receiving—Shane Bingham 5-60, 1 1st, 1 TD, 3 conv.; Charlie Rivera 4-43, 3 1sts, 1 conv.; Tim Hoopes 1-5, 1 1st; Dillon Cenarrusa 1-3, 1 conv.
Interceptions (3)—Shane Bingham 2 with 39 yards in returns; Caleb Cenarrusa 1 with a 24-yard return.
Kickoff returns—Charlie Rivera 3-50; Shane Bingham 1-17.
Punt returns—Tim Hoopes 2-99, 1 TD.
All-purpose yardage—Tim Hoopes 281; Charlie Rivera 231.
Tackles (68)—Tim Hoopes 15, Joe Laidlaw 9, Caleb Cenarrusa 8, Blair Peck 7, Glen Andrews 6, Shane Bingham 5, Chance Chavez 5, Francisco Gamino 4, Charlie Rivera 2, Jack Cenarrusa 2, Dillon Cenarrusa 2, Baley Barg 1, Jacy Baird 1, Brandon Dilworth 1.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Garden Valley
Rushing—Casey Hileman 25-165, 5 1sts, 1 TD, 1 conv.; Kavik Fairburn 4-19, 2 1sts, 1 TD; Charlie Johnson 6-18; Jono Lawler 1-4; Dylan Bass 1-2.
Passing—Casey Hileman 9-12, 135 yards, 4 1sts, 1 TD, 2 conv., 2 interceptions; Kavik Fairburn 9-16, 84 yards, 4 1sts, 2 TD, 1 interception; Dylan Bass 1-1, 37 yards, 1 1st.
Receiving—Dylan Bass 6-103, 3 1sts, 1 TD, 1 conv.; Nathan Updike 6-87, 3 1sts, 1 conv.; Casey Hileman 4-40, 2 1sts, 2 TD; Kavik Fairburn 3-26, 1 1st.
Interceptions (2)—Casey Hileman 1; Nathan Updike 1.
Fumble recovery (1)—JD Fuhriman 1.
Kickoff returns—Casey Hileman 5-54; JD Fuhriman 2-9; Chad Jones 1-5.
All-purpose yardage—Casey Hileman 394.
Tackles (68)—Casey Hileman 15, Nathan Updike 11, Charlie Johnson 11, Chad Jones 8, Jono Lawler 7, JD Fuhriman 7, Dylan Bass 4, Cody Zeff 3, Zach Smith 1, Danny Breckinridge 1.
Final Carey Football Composite 2010
Opponents 26 56 16 18 116 (9.7)
Carey 204 214 78 42 538 (44.8)
Opponents 12 16 8 6 42 (14.0)
Carey 28 52 40 8 128 (42.7)
State champions, fifth in school history (1994, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010)
RESULTS (11-1 overall, 4-1 home, 7-0 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
Nov. 20 (Away, Eagle, 1A Division 2 final) Carey 62, Garden Valley 36
SCORING TD CONV PTS.
Tim Hoopes 27 7 176
Charlie Rivera 11 9 84
Caleb Cenarrusa 11 5 76
Shane Bingham 6 9 54
Dillon Cenarrusa 5 3 36
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 10
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
Glen Andrews 0 0 2
Note: Joe Laidlaw and Glen Andrews had 2-point safeties.
School records: Tim Hoopes became the second-highest single-season scorer in Carey history with 176 points, just a touchdown behind all-time single-season and career record holder Jonathan Rivera (182 points in 2000, 472 career).
Touchdown passes—Caleb Cenarrusa 15, Jordan Dilworth 3, Tim Hoopes 3. Conversion passes—Caleb Cenarrusa 20, Tim Hoopes 3, Jordan Dilworth 2. Notes—Carey scored in 35 of 41 quarters....Carey successfully made 42 of 73 conversions (58% success rate)....Carey scored 75 TD—46 on runs from scrimmage, 21 on passes, 5 on defense, 3 on kickoff or punt returns.