This season, the most successful Borah High football season since the current Lions were newborns, began with heavy disappointment.
Coming off its first winning season in more than a decade and a strong offseason in the weight room, Borah was defeated by city rival Boise 38-24 in the inaugural game at Dona Larsen Park.
We came and we thought we were going to walk all over Boise and we didnt play well at all, senior center Colton Streufert said. Offensive line coach (Stefan) deVries said this is a moment for character. You guys are going to pick it up or youre going to dip your head and have an 0-9 season.
These Lions despite a recent history filled with many more losses than wins wouldnt dip their heads.
Not in the second year of coach Darren Corpus rebuilding project. Not with this group of seniors, determined to build off the success of last years group.
Since the opener, Borah has won six consecutive games and clinched a spot in the 5A playoffs with two regular-season games left, including Fridays showdown with Capital (5-2).
The six victories are the most for a Borah team since 1995.
Last year, I put it on that senior group to do all they could to rebuild this program, to help establish it, said Corpus, a Borah graduate who played on the Lions 1979 state championship team. I put it on this group to take it to another level and they have responded.
Last years seniors helped the Lions to a 5-4 record.
This years group helped establish an offseason weightlifting program.
Borah never had that. Maybe the main five players would be lifting together, but it wasnt a team, Streufert said. This year we had 30, 40 guys.
Streufert added 20 pounds, helping the 220-pounder hold off defensive linemen more than 40 pounds heavier and paving the way for the strong running of Hunter Kenyon and passing of Cole Skinner.
Kenyon ranks second in the 5A SIC in rushing (882 yards, nine touchdowns). Skinner is second in the league in passing (1,700 yards, 19 touchdowns and three interceptions) and wide receiver Kion Williams leads the conference in yards (879) and touchdowns (11).
Corpus enthusiasm and ability to motivate have given the Lions a new outlook.
When you come into a program like that you want to be as enthusiastic as you possibly can. You want to try to strike a chord with them so they respond, Corpus said. One of the key ingredients is they did respond, but more so the coaches started responding back because we were getting so much from the players. We kind of fed off each other.
And now the winning is having other effects. More boys have expressed an interest in playing next season. Students, teachers and administrators are more involved and filling the stands.
Borah is excited about ... football.
Theres a lot of enthusiasm. We hold our heads high, junior lineman Hawkins Mann said.
Said senior left guard Tyler McCurdy: Its really changed a whole lot. A lot of people, they kind of have a different believe in how we do things, how we present ourselves.
Said Skinner: You get a warm welcome from everybody when youre doing well. The whole school is a little bit more energized.
For some like Corpus, who was there for Borahs previous football glory, it is a reminder of those long ago days before the vast expansion to the suburbs and the emergence of large schools with powerful programs west of Boise.
There was a huge history here for a lot of years. It will never be the same again, but we can be a winning program, Corpus said. Theres no doubt about it.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph