BLACKFOOT — It is finally here.
After what seems like an eternity the 2013 high school football season will get underway next week as teams all over the state will lace up their cleats and don the pads and helmets to begin practice.
For the five schools in Bingham County, each made the playoffs, with Shelley and Blackfoot taking home state titles. Firth came up just short of making it a county three-peat with their loss to Declo in the 2A final. Snake River was eliminated in the state quarterfinals to Shelley and Aberdeen continued its rebuilding process, making the playoffs after winning Kansas City playoff but was eliminated by eventual 2A champion Declo in the first round.
With the start of practices upcoming let's take a look back at the 2012 season for each of the schools in the county and take a quick look at the 2013 season.
Will Bingham County continue its dominance? Can Shelley and Blackfoot repeat at champions? It is anyone's guess at this point, but one thing is for sure, it is going to be another fun year on the gridiron.
Let's start with the defending 4A champion Blackfoot Broncos.
Blackfoot rolled throughout the 2012 season finishing with an 11-1 record. The lone blemish was a loss to eventual 5A state champion Madison.
The 35-14 defeat in Rexburg last October ended the Broncos 18-game winning streak as the Bobcats spread offense torched the Broncos defense for 279 yards passing.
While head Blackfoot head coach Stan Buck was upset with his teams efforts that day, the Broncos responded.
Blackfoot tore the remainder of the regular season before getting tested by Bishop Kelly in the opening round of the 4A playoffs.
It was the semifinals comeback win over Skyview in Holt Arena that propelled the Broncos into the title game where the team traveled to Boise and steamrolled Middleton 48-19 to win the schools first back-to-back football championships.
For the second consecutive season the Broncos will break in a new quarterback as Alonzo Ramos was lost graduation. The team will also need to replace leading receiver Colby Pearson who is walking on at BYU.
Who that quarterback will be is unknown at the current time, but do not be surprised if sophomore Taylor Pearson takes over under center.
Let's move a few miles up I-15 to Shelley.
There was no team in the state as dominant as the Russets. All but one of the teams victory was by double digits, the one that wasn't was a 16-13 win over former Shelley head coach Dwight Ritchins and the Hillcrest Knights.
Shelley was a powerhouse on both sides of the football. The highest point total scored on the Russets all season 24 in a 42-24 week one win over Idaho Falls. Of the next 11 opponents Shelley held seven to 10 points or fewer.
The offense led by quarterback Chad Leckington and wide receiver McKay Cannon averaged 43.3 points per game.
When Shelley reached the playoffs they outscored opponents 185-38, with Snake River scoring the most against the Russets in the postseason when they scored 14 in the quarterfinals.
Like Blackfoot the Russets will have to replace their starting quarterback and top receiver. But head coach Travis Hobson has a luxury of having Kaden Schmitt returning to run the offense. Schmitt has played significant time under center the last two seasons when Leckington was out with injuries.
Shelley can repeat if the new starters can mesh quickly with the returners. Hobson built a tough schedule for his team this season with two games against teams from Utah.
At Snake River the Panthers were again 3A Fifth District champions, but these season ended with a blowout loss to county rival Shelley.
For the second consecutive season the Panthers started off the season slow only to rally late and win six of their last seven games.
During their six-game winning streak the Panthers defense allowed 27 total points.
On offense the theme of having to replace the starting quarterback has spread to Thomas as 2012 starter Wyatt Wray has moved on.
While the loss to Shelley in the state quarterfinals will be what many Snake River fans remember, the 56-22 loss to rival Blackfoot should be the bigger issue.
The 2012 game at Snake River may be the last time the two school separated by seven miles will play against each other on the football field after the schools decided to end their yearly meeting.
Snake River should again be at the top of the 3A Fifth District standings as only an up and coming Bear Lake squad should be a challenge.
The season opens with the same three opponents as in 2012, this year the team will looking to capitalize on playing two of the three at home.
Down the road at Firth head coach Keith Drake and the Cougars are looking forward to making a return trip to the 2A state title game.
The 2012 Cougars finished the season 11-1 with the lone loss coming to Declo in the title game.
Like the other three schools already mentioned the Cougars must replace their quarterback and top receiver as Jake Orme and cousin Mitch have both graduated.
Mitch Orme was a one man wrecking ball last season. Orme had a handful of games where he scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, a tough feat for any player, but Orme made it look easy.
The Cougars rolled through the season, it was not until an injury to Jake Orme in a semifinal come from behind win over West Side did the Cougars fates change.
Without an experienced quarterback the offense sputtered and Declo was able to take advantage to win their first ever football state title.
While it will be tough to replace both Orme's the team does have running back Connor Montgomery returning to carry the load.
In Aberdeen, the Tigers made the playoffs by finishing the season 4-4, but then got the pleasure of facing Declo in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hornets dominated the Tigers winning the game 55-26 in Declo.
This season head coach Cory Hollingsworth must find a way for his team to keep its momentum from 2012.
Offensively the Tigers struggled to score points averaging 19.8 a game, with the season high being 36 in a win over Ririe.
Aberdeen started the season 3-1 before losing four of their last five games. The Tigers play in a tough league with West Side, Malad and Soda Springs so taking the top spot is unlikely.
But with a steady improvement the Tigers can make a return trip to the playoffs.