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Fearless predictions for state quarterfinals

November 3, 2011

BLACKFOOT – Three out of four. Not a bad first week of fearless predictions of the Bingham County teams involved in the state football playoffs. Hopefully the area teams will continue their good play on the field and I will have three more predictions next week. That said, here goes the latest round of football previews for the upcoming playoff games.

Blackfoot @ Skyview 7 P.M. Friday
This match up would have been better served a couple of weeks from now but due to the insane decision by the Idaho High School Athletic Association to pre-seed the brackets a year in advance, these two regular season conference champions will now be knocking heads in the quarterfinals instead.
Skyview are a very talented team that won the Southern Idaho Conference Championship courtesy of a 7-1 conference record which included a most impressive 3 game winning streak to close out the season to capture the title. With wins over Middleton, Columbia and then Bishop Kelly, Skyview slammed the door on their competition for the top seed.
Skyview boasts a 7-2 overall record in large part to an offense that averages 34 points per ball game.
On the defensive end the Hawks have held their opponents to 18 points per outing including a 7-0 shutout of Columbia two weeks ago.
Blackfoot, the top ranked 4A team in the state will make the trip to Nampa with an unblemished record with the offensive unit rolling up 38 points per outing.
Defensively, the Broncos are holding their opponents to just 15 points per game so on paper, these two teams are about as equal a match up as one could ask for.
I’m a little concerned about the travel and of course the great unknown that you get when you play on a home field in the Boise area.
I just can’t stop reliving two years ago however, when Blackfoot had to travel to Bishop Kelly’s home field where they dominated the game, overcame some fairly questionable penalties and then returned home with a victory.
The offensive line will need to play a near perfect game and if they give Trae Pilster time, I believe that he will be able to find the open receiver. That said, expect the Hawks to double-team Colby Pearson all over the field so the rest of the receiving corps that include Cody Evans and Colton Dance will absolutely, positively, have to make the plays when they are afforded the opportunity. If they do that, expect Blackfoot to emerge victorious and advance to the state semi-finals.
In a game that will be uncomfortably close….
Blackfoot 35, Skyview 31

Firth @ Declo 6 P.M. Friday
The first thing that you will notice with the 2A quarterfinal match up between Firth and Declo is the odd start time of 6 o’clock. I’m unsure who, if either of the teams, that this may be an advantage to but it will be out of the ordinary at the very least.
Declo (8-1) enters the game after a 49-33 defeat of Ririe. That in itself isn’t as impressive as one might think considering that Firth pounded Ririe 42-14 a month ago.
In another common opponent, both teams squared off with Malad with Declo falling 30-8 in mid September. Of course, everyone remembers Firth’s thrilling 33-26 win over Malad last week.
Declo sports the better overall record and they hang their collective hats on a stingy defense that allows just 15 points per ballgame.
Most impressive was their run through their conference when they just steamrolled the rest of the 2A Canyon Conference to the tune of an average score of 25-11.
They knocked off a 3A opponent in Kimberly which is no small feat and they have been one of the more consistent teams on any level.
That said, Firth is riding high after winning four of their last five ballgames. Over that span the Cougar offense has been nearly unstable, cracking the thirty point threshold in three of those games including the 33 point outburst against Malad in Holt Arena last Thursday.
Mitch Orme was nearly unstoppable last Thursday and if Declo has any designs on beating the Cougars they will need to stop him first, second and third.
After watching Keith Drake and his coaching staff maneuver Orme around the field and getting the talented junior the ball in a myriad of different formations, I believe that he will get more than his fair share of touches which will spell doom for the Hornets and leave the Cougar fans screaming for more by nights end.
In a six o’clock special….
Firth 28, Declo 20

Snake River vs Salmon 5 P.M. Holt Arena Saturday
In the Saturday game the Snake River Panthers will battle with the Salmon Savages. Salmon are good, very good. Sporting a perfect 9-0 record the Savages have been as dominant as any team in any classification as they rolled through the regular season with double-digit win after double-digit win including a dominating 54-22 win over Marsh Valley in Arimo.
Conversely, on a cold rainy night, the Panthers were blanked by that same Eagle team in Arimo which bodes bad mojo for the Panthers if you were to just look at that match up.
The Salmon offense is quite prolific behind a balanced attack they are averaging 40 points per ball game and on the defensive end, they have shut out three different opponents while allowing just 10 points per ball game.
They were tested on the last regular season game of the season by South Fremont, a team that Snake River beat last week and American Falls, a team that Snake River kicked around by the final score of 70-7.
I also believe that giving up home field advantage to play in Holt Arena was more than likely a mistake that Snake River will try to take advantage of.
Snake River will have to play their best game however, if they plan on taking advantage of that venue.
Last week the Panthers had their game with South Fremont well in hand before a late fourth quarter let down allowed the Cougars to climb back into the game and place some doubt on the final outcome. I know that the Snake River coaching staff were not pleased with how the team closed out the game and believe me, it will take a full sixty minutes on Saturday if the Panthers hope to keep their season alive for another week.
Salmon will more than likely try to run the same game plan that South Fremont employed by stacking the line of scrimmage and daring the Panthers to beat them through the air.
Snake River’s Wyatt Wray was equal to that challenge last week with four touchdown strikes.
The game will more than likely come down to a special teams play and with that in mind…
Snake River 35, Salmon 34 (missed extra point)

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