Championship game predictions
It's the moment that you've all been waiting for. It's championship Friday and by nights end Bingham County could be celebrating not one, not two, but three different state football titles in three different classifications as the Blackfoot Broncos, Shelley Russets and Firth Cougars will all take to their respective fields looking to etch their names into the lore of their respective programs.
Last season Bingham County took home two of the three title games in which they participated in and this year a large contingent of fans from the respective schools are hoping for a little bit more.
The fearless predictions are a perfect 11-0 on the playoffs looking to go a perfect 14-0 with this weeks picks and so, without further ado…..
WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHO WILL WIN AND WHY?
Firth (11-0) vs Declo (11-0) 3 p.m. @ Holt Arena
The Firth Cougars return to the state title game looking for the coveted blue trophy rather than the red piece of hardware that they brought home last season. A year ago, the Cougars were the underdog as they made the long trip north to the Kibbie Dome to tangle with eventual state champions Grangeville.
This year, the Cougars are the favorites as they have cruised through their schedule in relative ease while maintaining the top spot in the media polls for a vast majority of the season. The Cougars were tested in last weeks semi final match, a test that the Cougars stepped up and mastered with a strong second half performance. That intestinal fortitude bodes well for the Cougars because this week they will face off with arguably the toughest opponent that they will face in the entire season in the Declo Hornets.
The second-ranked Hornets are also 11-0 on the season and they hang their hats on a defensive squad that has posted five shutouts on the season, including a 36-0 crushing of Marsing last week in their semi-final game.
The Hornets will need all of that defense and then some in facing the high flying Cougars who will look to light up the scoreboard despite the loss of their senior signal caller, Jake Orme who fell to injury on the final play of the first half of last weeks contest.
In the win over West Side it was Mitch Orme who took over the quarterback duties in relief of his cousin so expectations are that he will under center this week as well.
That may not be entirely true however because sophomore quarterback Jackson Thompson has seen plenty of time on the varsity field of play with Firth blowing out their opponents with regularity and the speedy sophomore could pose a nightmare match up for the Hornets defense as they try to game plan for Mitch Orme.
That said, most pundits will agree that Mitch will take a large portion of the snaps and having the 2A player of the year candidate touching the ball with regularity certainly is not a deficit for the Cougars.
These two teams met last season in the quarterfinals with Firth knocking the Hornets out on their home field so Declo does have a revenge factor coming in. Firth has some extra motivation of their own though as to a man, they have all stated over and over, all season long that finishing second last season has fueled their run into this year.
In the end, look for a tight game to be won by a big play and a big moment. Firth brings home their fifth state title……Firth 20, Declo 14.
Shelley (11-0) vs Fruitland (11-0) 8 p.m. @ Eagle High School
It's armageddon all over again. In the film, a giant asteroid was on a head on collision course with Earth. Unlike the film, tonights Shelley-Fruitland title tilt will certainly make impact as the top two 3A teams in the state have maintained their head on collision course throughout the season and tonight at Eagle High School, the inevitable will occur with one team left shaking their heads while the other will be celebrating the coveted state title.
Fruitland will be making their seventh straight 3A state title game appearance and the remaining players from last years squad are still stinging from the loss to Snake River a season ago.
The two teams are spitting images of each other as both squads rolled through the season unscathed in the standings and on the scoreboard with Fruitland outscoring their opponents by a margin of 42-10 and Shelley outscoring their foes by an average score of 43-10.
Both schools feature an all world quarterback who doubles as a ferocious linebacker as Fruitland trots out a 6-foot-3, 230 pound Joe Martarano while Shelley hitches their collective wagons to the 6-foot-3, 220 pound Chad Leckington.
Both quarterbacks have favorite targets with Martarano looking for Hagan Graves when he drops back to pass and Leckington looking for McKay Cannon and finding him more often than not in wide open spaces which turn into points on the board.
The two teams are no stranger to each other as they have collided twice in the past in the state title game with Shelley emerging victorious in each of them, the first in 2007 and the latest a 25-14 win in the 2009 state title game.
After a two year hiatus from the 3A ranks, Shelley is once again champing at the bit to get another shot at Fruitland as this cross state rivalry game has become a highlight on the prep schedule.
In the end, this game will come down to defense and Shelley head coach Travis Hobson has told anyone and everyone who will listen that his defense is underrated. The Russets will get an opportunity to showcase that defense tonight, in a stern test that I believe they will pass.
In a classic….. Shelley 28, Fruitland 21.
Blackfoot (10-1) vs Middleton (10-1) 7 p.m. @ Donna Larsen Park Boise
It's a common refrain on the play ground whenever someone wins at a game there is the inevitable call for a rematch. Tonight, that chance becomes a reality for the Vikings of Middleton as they will once again face off with the Blackfoot Broncos in the 4A state title game.
The Broncos have been a mainstay at the 4A state title game in recent years as they will be playing in their fifth state title game in the last six seasons and they will be looking to bring home their fourth championship banner in that span.
As in last years contest, look for Middleton to try and control the clock with their ground game. Running the double wing, Middleton have a stable of backs to choose from as they run the tricky offense to near perfection, averaging 37 points per outing. Defensively, they have been vulnerable on occasion however as they allowed thirty plus on three different occasions including a 30 point effort by fellow High Country Conference member Bonneville last week in the semi-finals where the Vikings prevailed 32-30.
"We will have to be disciplined in our defensive responsibilities," Blackfoot head coach Stan Buck said last week in speaking of playing Middleton.
Blackfoot are all to familiar with the double wing however, having played against a formidable Hillcrest team for the past several years when they were running the double wing to near perfection night in and night out so expect the Broncos to be well prepared when hey take to the Donna Larsen Park turf this evening.
Blackfoot enters the game as the top ranked 4A team in the state, with their lone loss coming to an undefeated 5A Madison who will also be playing for a state title this evening as well.
In advancing to the state title game, Blackfoot dispatched with back-to-back Southern Idaho Conference opponents in Bishop Kelly and Skyview. Of course, Middleton also beat those two squads by nearly the same scores as Blackfoot so that aspect is a wash.
The deciding factor in tonights game may well be the passing game however. Alonzo Ramos, when in rhythm is one of the most feared quarterbacks in the state, at any level and last week, against the Hawks of Skyview Ramos was on fire, completing 20 of 30 for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns.
If Blackfoot are able to score early and often it should put enough pressure on the Vikings to come out of their comfort zone in the rushing game. If the Vikings can keep it close, the game will come down to last possession.
Look for the high flying Broncos to light up the scoreboard however and the defending champs bring home another banner…..Blackfoot 42, Middleton 26.