Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Football quest for WRHS kicks off at Jerome

65 players fill the Wolverine ranks

     With its sizable turnout of 65 freshman- through senior-class players, the Wood River High School football program feels pretty good about snapping a pair of lengthy losing streaks.

     The Wolverines (1-8 last year) open their nine-game regular-season schedule Friday, Aug. 29 with a Great Basin Conference clash at Jerome High. That’s a place Wood River varsity football teams have never won a football game.

     Sixth-year Wood River head coach Kevin Stilling and his veteran staff are also hopeful of ending an eight-game losing skid that finished the 2013 season—after a season-opening 40-32 home victory over Salmon.

     Wood River (12.9 ppg offense, 35.6 defense) managed to score only 63 points in the season’s final eight games, including a forfeit loss to Burley when the Wolverines couldn’t field a team due to injuries and low turnout.

     Numbers are more favorable this year, as the varsity has 46 players (13 seniors, 11 juniors, 22 sophomores). The team got its feet wet last Friday with a jamboree at Nampa High School featuring Kuna, Fruitland and Middleton opponents.

     High school physical education/health teacher Stilling said Monday, “We’ve had a good turnout. Our 65 kids are up about 25 from the numbers we finished with last season in all of our grades.

     “We return 13 seniors from last year and six of those seniors started for us. And we have a good group of sophomores that hasn’t lost a game in three seasons (9-0 as freshmen last year, and 22-0 since the seventh grade).”

     Stilling is enthusiastic about the schedule that alternates 3A opponents (Filer, Gooding, Kimberly and Buhl) and Great Basin 4A foes (Jerome, Twin Falls, Canyon Ridge, Burley and Minico). In the past, the 3A teams have been front-loaded.

     The season starts at Jerome, where the closest Hailey grid teams have ever come to winning was an 18-17 loss in 2006.

     Jerome holds a 36-5 edge over the 41-year rivalry but lost 35-22 in Hailey during the 6-4 Wolverine season of 2011. That season ended with a third-place Great Basin finish—Wood River’s best under Stilling.

     The Tigers have finished tied for first (2012) and second place in the Great Basin the last two seasons. Yet Stilling said Jerome has lost 20 seniors, “a lot of experience,” he said. He added Wood River could compete well if the Wolverines limit their turnovers and penalties on the Tiger gridiron.

     “We’ve talked a lot so far about the stupid ways to lose football games, and how to avoid them,” Stilling said.

     One way to avoid them is to emphasize ball possession and the running game—two vital areas that have always been characteristic of successful Wood River grid teams.

     Stilling said he feels the team’s fitness is good, which helps in that department.

     Leading the team’s personnel is senior Hayden Thayer, a two-time Great Basin All-League first-team selection.

     Thayer is the starting running back on offense, with Owen Gifford, Christopher Lentz and Austin Savaria also carrying the payload.

     Fullbacks are Champe Kotara and Ashton Owens. The second-year varsity quarterback is junior Alec Nordsieck, expected to pass more this year. Stilling said, “Alec has gotten a lot better reading the defense.”

     His targets will include tight end Gunner Gibson and wide receiver Cade Schott, who is also the back-up quarterback.

     Anchoring the offensive line, all returning starters, are center Jackson Toothman and guards Parker Bingham, Taylor Douthit and Dee Jay McMurdo. Contending for the tackles are sophomores Jens Blackman, Caleb Morgan and Brendan Bingham.

     Kick returners include Gifford, Wyatt Johnson and Ashton Owens. The punter is Nordsieck, with Kyle Weller and Hunter Kern doing the placekicking for Wood River.

     Many of the offensive linemen will rotate into the defensive line surrounding noseguard Hans Heaphy, a strong sophomore.

     The linebackers are a fast and promising bunch featuring Blackman, Jubal Toothman, Jackson Toothman and Travis Swanson on the inside, with Hagan Barsch, Gibson, Ashton Wilson and Kotara on the outside. Safeties include Lentz, Thayer and Izaac Easterday.

     Reigning Great Basin champion is Twin Falls (7-3 last year), where Wood River visits on Friday, Sept. 12.

     The Wolverine freshman team entertains Jerome for its first game on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Phil Homer Field in Hailey, and the Hailey junior varsity hosts Filer for its first game on Thursday, Sept. 4, also at 6:30 p.m.

     Here are Wood River’s 2014 varsity and freshman rosters.

     Position symbols include Offensive/Defensive Lines (OL/DL), Running Back (RB), Fullback (FB), Defensive Back (DB), Safety (S), Quarterback (QB), Outside Linebacker (OLB), Inside Linebacker (ILB), Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE), Punter (P), Kicker (K).



     Head coach—Offensive and Defensive Coordinator Kevin Stilling (6th year, 15-28).

     Assistant coaches—Pete Naumes (OL), J.C. Nemecek (DB), Andy Miles (D), Zeek Herron (DL), Rhett Jones (head JV/freshmen), Baba Street (RB), Daniel Turner (DL), Kyle Carr (DB), Kerry Bingham (receivers), Dan Freeman and Jay Humphries.

     Seniors (13)—Hayden Thayer (RB/S), Jackson Toothman (OL/ILB), Hagan Barsch (TE/OLB), Parker Bingham (OL/DL), Taylor Douthit (OL/DL), Champe Kotara (FB/OLB), Austin Savaria (RB/S), Austin Krenz (WR/S), Kyle Weller (K/P), Izaac Easterday (RB/S/OLB), Aramys Gallegos (WR/DB), Ryan Kotiga (WR/OLB) and Dustin Dickerson (OL/DL).

     Juniors (11)—Gunner Gibson (TE/OLB), Alec Nordsieck (QB/DB/P), Dee Jay McMurdo (OL/DL), Christopher Lentz (RB/S), Justin Miller (OL/DL), Omar Salamanca (OL/DL), Austen Alberdi (RB/ILB), Hunter Kern (WR/OLB/K), Manny Vallejo (OL/DL), Markus Molz (WR/DB) and Wyatt Johnson (WR/DB).

     Sophomores (22)—Bodie Bennett (RB/WR), Brendan Bingham (OL/DL), Jens Blackman (OL/OLB), Jacob Bulotti (WR/DB), Dan De La Cruz (RB/S), Dennis Drain (WR/S), Owen Gifford (RB/DB), Jhojan Galvan (WR/DB), Hans Heaphy (OL/DL), Alek Higley (OL/DL), Caleb Morgan (OL/DL), Thomas O’Connor (OL/DL), Ashton Owens (FB/OLB), Joshua Pettit (OL/DL), John Quinonez (RB/C), Benjamin Romero (OL/DL), Cade Schott (WR/QB/DB), Travis Swanson (RB/TE/ILB), Jubal Toothman (OL/ILB), Jorge Vallejo (OL/DL), Beck Vontver (WR/DB) and Spencer Wright (RB/S).



     Head JV/freshman coach—Rhett Jones. Assistant coaches—Zeek Herron, Kyle Carr, Baba Street, Kerry Bingham and Jay Humphries.

     Freshmen (23)—Andy Andrade (OL/DL), Eric Baeza (TE/DB), David Balcos (TE/LB), Tyson Berkeley (RB/LB), Marco Beyeler (OL/DL), Jaron Bothwell (RB/QB/DB), Ike Buxton (RB/LB), Hunter Clifford (WR/DB), Ethan Davies (RB/LB), Andy Gallegos (OL/DL), Hunter Haemmerle (RB/DB), Alfonso Hurtado (OL/DL), Adam Kotiga (RB/LB), Garrett Lovell (OL/DL), Luke Marcoullier (WR/DB), Mike Marquez (WR/DB), Cameron Maxwell (OL/DL), Hunter McMurdo (OL/LB), Wyatt Parish (QB/DB), Hunter Stewart (WR/DB), Ian Thomas (WR/DB), Joe Vega (OL/DL) and Coby Zamora (OL/DL).



2014 WRHS Football



                A total 9 games for the 2014 Wood River High School varsity—4 home and 5 away. Home varsity games at Hailey’s Phil Homer Field start at 7 p.m. Homecoming is the Sept. 19 game against Gooding. Home games in bold type. The 5 Great Basin Conference District 4 games are marked with an asterisk (*). Tickets are $5 general admission, or $3 high school students with activity cards. Also listed are the 4-game JV schedule against 3A opponents and the 5-game freshman schedule against 4A schools.

Varsity football

Aug. 29, Friday Jerome* Away, 7:00
Sept. 5, Friday Filer Away, 7:00
Sept. 12, Friday Twin Falls* Away, 7:00
Sept. 19, Friday Gooding (Homecoming) Home, 7:00
Sept. 26, Friday Kimberly Away, 7:00
Oct. 3, Friday Burley* Home, 7:00
Oct. 10, Friday Buhl Away, 7:00
Oct. 17, Friday Canyon Ridge* Home, 7:00
Oct. 24, Friday Minico (Sr. Night)* Home, 7:00
Nov. 1, Saturday State 4A first-round games TBA
Junior varsity football    
Sept. 4, Thursday Filer Home, 6:30
Sept. 18, Thursday Gooding Away, 7:00
Sept. 25, Thursday Kimberly Home, 6:30
Oct. 9, Thursday Buhl Home, 6:30
Freshman football    
Aug. 28, Thursday Jerome* Home, 6:30
Sept. 11, Thursday Twin Falls* Home, 6:30
Oct. 1, Wednesday Burley* Away, 4:30
Oct. 16, Thursday Canyon Ridge* Twin Falls, 7:00
Oct. 22, Wednesday Minico* Rupert, 4:30

NOTES—Only the Great Basin Conference District 4 champion automatically qualifies for the 8-school State 4A playoff quarterfinals, having earned a first-round bye of the 12 teams claiming berths in the post-season tournament. The four-weekend tournament concludes Nov. 21-22 with the Milk Bowl championship finals sponsored by the Idaho High School Activities Association…...In the “Round of 12” first-round on Friday, Nov. 1, the 4th District GBC league runner-up (WR, Jerome, Burley, Minico, Twin Falls, Canyon Ridge) hosts the third-place team from the Boise area 3rd District (Bishop Kelly, Caldwell, Kuna, Middleton, Mountain Home, Renaissance and Skyview) and the 4th District GBC third-place team visits the 3rd District runner-up……..In the quarterfinal round Nov. 8, the GBC champion hosts the winner of the Nov. 1 game between the 4th District third-place team and 3rd District runner-up…..The hosts of the Nov. 8 quarterfinals are the regular-season winners of Idaho’s 4A Districts 1/2, District 3, District 4 and Districts 5/6.

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