Wood River Middle School seventh-grade quarterback Kade Schott hands off the ball, getting the Wolverine offense in motion, during Tuesday’s 54-0 home win over Jerome at Hailey’s Chuck Turner Field. Providing a block on a much bigger Jerome lineman (right ) is Ralphy Rodriquez. Express photo by Roland Lane
Didn’t punt all season and allowed only one touchdown.
That’s a pretty good indication of the dominance of the WoodRiverMiddle School seventh-grade football team, which capped a 6-0 season Tuesday with a 54-0 home triumph over Jerome at Chuck Turner Field.
On the Fall Sports Palooza Day to celebrate students in fall sports at the Hailey school, the halftime score favored WoodRiver 40-0. Adding up all the scores of this fall’s six games, the young Wolverines out-pointed their opponents 236-6.
Coach Chris Malmgren, who has been coaching football since 1982, including a stint at the middle school since 1998, said, “I’ve never seen a team at our school capable of dominating a game like this group.
“It was a dream season, amazing to watch and to see them perform. They were dedicated. They worked hard and were fundamentally strong. We had size and speed. They were nice kids—never missed practices and were very enthusiastic. A really fun season.”
Adding to the satisfaction for the coaching staff was the number of kids on the team. The seventh-grade team started the season in early September with 39 players. They had several injuries and ended with 36.
Middle school art teacher Malmgren, who coached the kids with social studies teacher Rob Swanson and Adan Sanchez, said, “We had a really deep class, actually three-deep on the offensive line. Typically we’re not used to that kind of depth at WoodRiver.”
In its other games, WoodRiver won by identical 30-0 scores over East Minico of Rupert (away), O’Leary of Twin Falls (home) and Stuart of Twin Falls (away); defeated West Minico of Paul 46-6 (home) and also beat Burley 46-0 (away).
One of the team’s strengths was the running game centered on the “rocket package” of end runs that has been a key part of the success of coach Kevin Stilling’s WoodRiverHigh School varsity football team.
The running game was so effective that WoodRiver scored plenty of touchdowns, early and often in its games. “The reason we didn’t pass much was because we scored so fast. The kids could get points on the board so quickly, it was pretty amazing,” he said.
Malmgren said, “With the rocket package, the ball gets on the edge (around end) so quickly that you only have to make a couple of perimeter blocks. The inside linebackers aren’t relevant on the play.
“The quarterback is pitching the ball quite a distance—it’s almost like a short pass. So you need good execution from your quarterback, and we got that from Kade Schott.
“Our running back who gets the pitch can’t slow down, he has to catch the ball in stride. It became our primary way of getting the ball outside. At the high school level they run a trap off the same motion. We do something more age-appropriate, more of a dive.”
WoodRiver’s running workhorse was Ashton Owens, the fastest kid on the team who also scored three times on defense. Others in the wingback rotation were Owen Gifford and Leo Corrales. Evan Hesselbacher (concussion) was hurt earlier in the season. The fullback was Travis Swanson.
The starting offensive line featured tight end Jens Blackman, tackles Tor Dalzell and Calub Morgan, guards Asher Loomis and Ralphy Rodriquez, and center Brendan Bingham. Wide-out was Roland Solis, and Gifford did the placekicking.
Defensively, WoodRiver ran essentially a 4-2-5, with four down linemen and two inside linebackers. On the line were left end Jens Blackman, right end Cade Street, and tackles Hans Heaphy and Jeron Peavey. Linebackers were Christian Hovey and Jubal Toothman. Strong safeties were Ashton Owens and Owen Gifford, and cornerbacks were Brock Mary and Jacob Bulotti.
Other players were Joseph Anderson, Damian Armstrong, Marc Cardona, Xavier Deaz, Nick Dorazio, Matt Galgano, Lucas Garvin, Alfonso Hurtado, Sam Johnson, Nathan Jones, Conner Lohrkey, Jared Millard, Zac Nelson, Elliott Portillo, Logan Robideaux, Jesse Santos, Logan Smith, Evan Telford and Keaton Wall.
Coaches Malmgren and Swanson hope the team will build upon this year’s success as eighth-graders in 2012.
The only comparable group of middle school kids that have developed with the help of the Wood River Optimist Football program is the 2001-02 Wolverines. They were undefeated as seventh-graders and went 7-0 with a 244-28 scoring cushion in the eighth grade.
On that team were players like Corbin Miniard, Kenny Cardona, Danny Ward, Casey Bennett, Carter Stewart, Drew Anderson and Chris Chapman.