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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Aug 28 - Sept 3, 2002


Seniors have Carey aiming high on gridiron

Sawtooth eight-man football contenders

Express Staff Writer

High school football season has arrived—and a strong returning cast of players has installed the Carey School Panthers as one of Idaho’s top 1A eight-man teams in the preseason.

New light standards have been installed at Carey’s Derrick Parke Memorial Field as well, which means the Panthers will be playing three night football games for the first time.

Carey head coach Lane Kirkland, backed by longtime defensive coordinator Lee Cook, have high hopes for the 2002 eight-man football campaign. Express photo by David N. Seelig

While other Gem State powers have unloaded, graduating important seniors, Carey has reloaded with nine seniors. Eight of those anchored last fall’s 7-2 Panther state playoff squad that outscored its opponents 38-16.

Experience is vital on the gridiron.

"Our team has the most experience of any in the state," said second-year Carey coach Lane Kirkland, who has welcomed 23 Panthers to preseason practices.

"It is our goal to go undefeated and win the conference championship. We have an extremely positive attitude among all our players."

Under offensive coordinator Kirkland, Carey had the personnel and willingness to diversify its offense last year—rushing for 2,037 yards (28 TDs from scrimmage) and passing for 1,452 yards (20 TDs).

Carey’s Wyoming offense probably won’t change much, although Kirkland said he has put together several more plays to go with his slot and T-offense. "We’ll try for a balanced offense behind a front line that averages 205 pounds," he said.

The defense under longtime defensive coordinator Lee Cook is likely to be more stubborn than last year, when Carey won its first six games and earned third place in the 12-team Sawtooth Conference with a resounding 62-14 win at Murtaugh.

Leading the way are returning All-State players and last year’s captains Shawn Hennefer and John Saili.

On offense, Hennefer was Carey’s leading rusher (839 yards), leading scorer (18 TDs and 112 points) and second-leading passer (559 yards and 9 TD). An All-State defensive back and fumble-causing tackler, Hennefer intercepted three passes and should pick off a few more in 2002.

Sure-handed and tough to bring down, Saili (35 catches for 534 yards, 8 TDs) made first-team All-State offense as a wide receiver.

Coach Kirkland has the luxury of having two senior quarterbacks in Hennefer and Sean Cenarrusa (75 completions for 885 yards, 11 TD).

And he’s got two senior running backs who can carry the payload in Destry Simpson (651 yards, 11 TD) and Robbie Ellsworth (5 TD and a team-leading 7 two-point conversions). They can catch, too. Simpson and Ellsworth each caught 27 passes.

"Destry is looking real strong and wiry," said Kirkland. "Robbie is a little plug who loves to hit."

The offensive line revolves around center Blake Surerus, a 6-2, 195-pound junior who is stronger and quicker than last year. The guards are 220-pound senior Kole Peck and 6-0 junior Bryson Ellsworth. Senior Stephen Jurgensmeier plays right end.

Jurgensmeier is the placekicker and Hennefer handles the punting.

Senior Seth Adamson, rock solid at left defensive end, is a key player on what appears to be a very strong defense. Peck and Bryson Ellsworth line up in the middle, with Saili at right defensive end. Robbie Ellsworth and Jurgensmeier are linebackers, and Simpson and Hennefer are safeties.

Joe Patterson is the other Carey senior. Other juniors are Randy Lundergreen and Ty Simmons, an end with excellent hands.

The sophomores are Ian Gamino, Juan Alvarez and Matt Trammell. Coach Kirkland said he also has seven hard-hitting freshmen who collectively have a great attitude.

Most of Carey’s rivals in the Sawtooth Conference’s North Division have lost important players and will be playing catch-up this fall.

Dietrich’s triple threat and Carey nemesis Chris Maughan has graduated, as has Camas County’s do-everything All-Stater Brandon Blodgett. All-State Eric Snowder of Clark County is also gone.

Looming large in the South Division, however, is defending Sawtooth king Castleford, with its returning All-State senior Elvis Medina.

Passing for 500 yards and running for 1,600 yards and 25 TDs, Medina led Castleford (9-1) to the state semi-finals for the third straight year. Castleford whipped Camas County 56-6 for the Sawtooth crown and beat Carey 54-8 before falling at Horseshoe Bend 34-6 in the semi-finals.

"Castleford has some good leaders back and a high population of players," said Kirkland, who said he preferred Carey’s quality of players.

When it comes to Castleford, Carey has some payback. Playing under the lights at home, the Wolves have eliminated the Panthers from the playoffs the past two years. And the South Division champion will host this year’s Sawtooth title game.

Carey played only two of its nine games under the lights last fall, both in the playoffs. In contrast, the 2002 Panthers are due to play six of their eight games at night before they even arrive at the conference title game.

Lending more weight to Kirkland’s statement about Carey’s edge in experience, the opposing teams in last fall’s State 1A eight-man championship game have lost a lot.

The two-time defending state champion Kendrick Tigers (11-1, nearly 5,000 rushing yards and 72 TDs) are rebuilding. So are the Horseshoe Bend Mustangs (11-1), who lost seven seniors. Kendrick beat Horseshoe Bend 62-26 in Moscow.



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