If all goes well there are two more weeks of prep football action for the ferocious grid iron fans in Bingham County. After a most interesting quarterfinal round Bingham County has three teams remaining and the hopes of a 4A, 3A, 2A state title sweep are still alive as Blackfoot, Shelley and Firth all advanced to this weekends semi-final round.
If all goes well this weekend, then by Saturday evening there will be state championship berths for all three teams.
Last weekend, the fearless predictions were a perfect 3-0 and are 8-0 on the post season thus far and so, without further ado…..
Firth (10-0) vs West Side (8-2) Saturday 2:30 @ Holt Arena
In one of the more intriguing match ups of the weekend we have the undefeated Firth Cougars locking horns with the Pirates of West Side.
These two teams collided at Firth on the opening night of the regular season as Firth sent a message, loud and clear across the 2A ranks, that they were in it to win it this year when they dumped the Pirates 44-18.
The Pirates followed that loss up with a 46-30 home loss to Rich County but since then, they have rolled off eight straight victories by the average score of 32-10. The Pirates are no stranger to playoff football as they are just one year removed from their 2010 state title and last season, they fell to eventual champion Grangeville in the semi-finals so don't look for the Pirates to be intimidated by the moment.
Firth will have to learn from history as to not repeat it in the future because West Side are following a familiar track through this season as they fell to a powerful Malad squad two years ago, by a hefty margin, to beat them in the state title game so their coaching staff are adept at making adjustments and at motivating their charges to overcome previous defeats.
That being said, the Cougars are on a roll themselves, especially in their final three ball games as they have crushed their foes by the average score of 65-8. Firth continue to ride the talented legs of Mitch Orme and the precision decision making skills of signal caller Jake Orme so expect the Pirates to key on those two players. The difference maker on the offensive side of the ball may just be Connor Montgomery. The talented running back has been a key cog in the Cougar play off run thus far and last week he accounted for 116 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving in the blow out win and with opposing teams focusing their efforts on the other skill positions, Montgomery has taken advantage of the opportunities offered him and that should not change on Saturday.
West Side will provide some new wrinkles for the Cougar defense, make do doubt about that, but Firth coach Keith Drake and his staff have proven for the past two seasons that they are more than capable of matching exes and ohs with the best of them.
All in all, the Saturday afternoon contest should be a lot more exciting than the past two play off games for the Cougars.
In a dog fight…..Firth 44, West Side 35.
Shelley (10-0) vs Gooding (10-0) @ Gooding Friday 7 p.m.
A pair of unbeaten teams will square off on the field tonight as the Shelley Russets and the Gooding Senators will stand toe-to-toe with one team heading to the 3A state title game with an unblemished record and the loser, getting ready for the rapidly approaching winter sports season.
Gooding enters the game as the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference champions and at first glance, their 10-0 record and 111.5 power ranking are impressive to say the least. A closer look at the conference however reveals a team that has feasted on inferior competition with the remaining teams in the conference amassing a paltry 6-20 record over the season. In addition to that, three of their non-conference foes were from the 2A classification and those teams had just 7 wins between them. If this were a BCS discussion, the Senators would not be in the conversation by the strength of schedule factor alone but alas, the semi-final game will not be played in the polls but rather on the field of play where Gooding has made the bold move of making the Russets travel the 180 miles to Gooding where they will play on the Senators home field.
That ploy alone speaks volumes as the Senators have traveled just three times on the entire season and at home they are averaging 35 points an outing.
The road is no stranger to the Russets however as they have played just three games at home this season, although in three games at Holt Arena they were considered the home team, so playing in front of a hostile environment is clearly no big factor for the men in red.
In those road games the Russets are averaging a whopping 42 points per outing with the three headed monster of Chad Leckington, McKay Cannon and Josh Gutierrez just shredding their opponents.
Perhaps the most telling indicator of tonights game is how the two squads looked against common opponent Teton. The Redskins were the second place finisher behind Shelley in the Mountain Rivers Conference with just two losses on the year. The first loss was at home to Shelley who humbled them but he final score of 51-6. Teton's second loss was last week in the quarterfinals when they fell at Gooding 27-15.
In the end Shelley should handle tonights game with little trouble but with all road games, and there is supposed to be weather, anything can happen and will often do so.
That said, the Russets head west for a date with Fruitland…..Shelley 51, Gooding 12.
Blackfoot (9-1) vs Skyview (8-3) Saturday 7:30 p.m. @ Holt Arena
As the Blackfoot Broncos prepare for their semi-final tussle with the Skyview Hawks the main question around town has been the health and status of senior signal caller Alonzo Ramos. Let's put all the speculation to rest by saying this about his ability or inability to go this weekend. It's a solid maybe. Okay, that was vague at best but I do know that Ramos wants to play so bad that his teeth hurt. I do know that he has mobility in the leg and that he is working daily at being ready to go on Saturday night. I expect him to dress and there is no doubt that if he can go, he will be in the line up.
Whether Ramos goes or not, expect the Broncos to come out fired up and ready to go when they take to the Holt Arena turf though and unlike last week's second half performance against Bishop Kelly, don't be surprised if the entire play book is at the offenses disposal come game time.
Last week, Blackfoot came out of the break and pounded the Knights into submission with their vaunted rushing attack. They threw the ball just twice in the entire second half, although one of them went for a touchdown to Colby Pearson.
Coach Buck explained that the lack of passing was just a case of not getting enough reps for back up quarterback Dallas Thompson during the week but that Blackfoot would be more than ready to pass this week after a full week of preparation.
Not that Blackfoot needs to pass the ball. On several occasions this season the Broncos have shown the ability to go "old school" on opponents and on Saturday night that may just be enough.
In looking at Skyview, the Hawks are entering the semi-finals as the third seed out of the Southern Idaho Conference. In capturing the final play off spot out of the Boise area, Skyview did so by amassing an 8-3 record but six of those wins were to teams who were below .500 on the season. Skyview did beat Minico last week and Minico were the top seed out of the Great Basin Conference but a 6-4 record and a state power ranking of 42 is not that impressive.
Skyview beat Minico by stuffing the Spartans rushing attack, holding them to 73 total yards when they had been averaging 360 yards per outing.
Offensively, the Hawks like to run the ball and junior running back Jaxon Pryor is the main cog in the offense as evidenced by his 215 yard performance last Friday on a whopping 30 carries. Once the Knights get you thinking run, they do a good job of play action pass however as Anthony Marin completed 11 of 18 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns against the Spartans.
The two teams do have a common opponent on the schedule, that being Bishop Kelly. The Hawks fell in their meeting with the Knights on week two of the season 24-12 while everyone in this readership area recall the gutsy 30-20 win by the Broncos last Friday night.
Expect the Broncos to come out with a lot of fire in their bellies.
Broncos advance to defend their 4A state title……Blackfoot 35, Skyview 20