POCATELLO — Rematches are the story of the weekend for the two remaining Bingham County schools in the state football playoffs.
Both Firth and Shelley will be taking on the exact same teams they played in the 2012 semifinals and hoping that by the time the dust settles tonight, they have secured a berth in next week's state title games.
Neither the Cougars or Russets have been challenged in the first two rounds of the playoffs, that will change today, but the ned result should be the same as last year for both squads.
It is yet again time for me to make my fearless predictions for today's games in Holt Arena and dive into why each of the county schools will still be playing next week.
Firth (9-1) vs. West Side (9-1), 2:30 today in Holt Arena
These two teams are no strangers to each other. This will be the fourth meeting between the Cougars and Pirates in the last two seasons and so far the Cougars have won all three meetings with all but one being by a margin of more than 12 points.
Firth blew out the Pirates 44-18 to start the 2012 season, they met again in the semifinals in a game where Firth lost starting quarterback Jake Orme in the first half and had to erase a 14-point halftime deficit to earn a 22-14 win and a berth in the championship game.
The Cougars beat West Side 24-12 in Dayton to start the 2013 season in a game dominated for a half by the Pirates, but late turnovers allowed the Cougars to come back and win in the second half.
Expect this game to again be close, but the key for both schools will be the ability to get their running attacks going.
The Cougars are led by Connor Montgomery.
Montgomery has rushed for over 1,300 yard sand 28 touchdowns this season and has been the biggest asset of the Cougars much more balanced offensive attack.
What the Cougars don't do well the throw the ball with consistently. Quarterback Jackson Thompson has thrown for less than 800 yards and nine touchdowns this season, the disturbing number if you are a Cougar fan is the 11 interceptions.
In the playoffs turnovers can be and usually are the difference in the game.
Don't expect Firth to throw the ball much, especially with Montgomery in the backfield.
West Side too is a power running team. And since that loss to Firth to start the season the Pirates have won nine straight games averaging 42 points a game.
But it has been the Pirates defense that has been the surprise of late. In the Pirates last four games the defense has allowed 31 total points with Salmon being the only team to score in double figures and that was mere 14 points.
In a game that will be a defensive struggle…
Cougars 22, Pirates 14
Shelley (9-1) vs. Gooding (8-2), 7:30 p.m. today in Holt Arena
To put it plain and simple the Shelley Russets are rolling.
Head coach Travis Hobson and the team have not faced a stiff test since the 21-0 loss to Manti, Utah in September.
In fact the Russets have beaten up their opponents. Just three teams have scored more than 14 points against Shelley and other than the 29 scored by Teton three weeks ago the Russets have pitched three shutouts in their last four games.
Oh and one other side note, Shelley has not allowed a single point thus far in the playoffs.
A pretty dominating performance by a dominant team.
The Russets take on a Gooding team they dismantled during the 2012 semifinals on the Senators home field.
Shelley cruised to a 47-7 victory last year and while Hobson is not a guy that overlooks any opponent, the Russets head coach knows where his team has an advantage.
The Senators are a big and aggressive squad, that aggressiveness leaves them open for offenses to take advantage, if Shelley can take advantage of the Senators aggressiveness the end result will be the same as last year's meeting.
Shelley senior quarterback Kaden Schmitt has been a dual threat weapon for the Russets all season long. He has thrown for over 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns and ran for another 500 and two more touchdowns.
But Shelley is a lot more than just Schmitt. Randy Bauer, has led a large group of Russets rushers with over 500 yards rushing while Cameron Waite and Josh Peterson each have over 400 yards receiving.
While the offense is a juggernaut, the defense has been the undisputed leaders of the Russets all season.
Because of that tough defense…
Russets 42, Senators 7.