NAMPA With three consecutive 4A state playoff appearances, the Skyview High football program is on the rise.
State championship contention is the next step for coach David Youngs squad, but a familiar obstacle stands in the way: the Blackfoot Broncos.
Skyview (8-3) and Blackfoot (9-1) will clash for the third consecutive postseason when they meet in a state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena in Pocatello.
Its fitting that if were going to get to that state championship, weve got to go through Blackfoot, Young said. No disrespect to other teams, but for us personally, our path goes through Blackfoot. It wouldnt feel right if it didnt.
Blackfoot defeated Skyview 35-25 in last years quarterfinals and 35-14 in the 2010 semifinals. The Broncos are seeking their fourth state title in six years, a quest that began Friday with a 30-20 win over Bishop Kelly.
But the Hawks are a tough out in their own right. After opening the season 0-2, Skyview has won eight of nine, outscoring opponents by an average of 27 points.
The Hawks began their postseason journey with a 28-14 victory at Minico. Junior tailback Jaxon Pryor rushed for 247 yards, and he said a similar team effort will be needed for the Hawks to beat Blackfoot.
Our saying in the locker room is, Win 11, Pryor said. Its going to take every single one of us executing on every single play and doing our jobs.
Offensively, Skyviews advantage lies in its diversity of weapons. Pryor (901 yards, 10 TDs) and Austin Ball (693 yards, 7 TDs) provide a solid one-two backfield punch alongside quarterback Anthony Marin, while senior tight end Walker Ray (393 yards, 6 TDs) and receivers Lane Robbins (805 yards, 9 TDs), Joe Miller (442 yards, 5 TDs) and Kacy Bonds (358 yards, 5 TDs) create a variety of matchup problems.
We have a lot of explosive guys, said Bonds, who had 112 receiving yards and two TDs against Minico. It starts up front with our offensive line, but we definitely have athletes who can do damage when they get the ball in space.
Defensively, the Hawks will have their hands full with Blackfoots explosive attack. Containing the running game led by dual-threat quarterback Alonzo Ramos will be a priority for the Skyview front seven, and linebacker Kyle Cothern said playing with speed will be the key to success.
Perhaps the toughest assignment belongs to senior cornerback Andrew Terry, who will match up with Blackfoot All-Idaho receiver Colby Pearson.
Blackfoot is very explosive, Terry said. We have to try and match their physicality and shut down a couple of their key guys. We definitely have a lot to prove, but we remember how it felt in our hearts losing last year. We want to get them this time.
For Young and his pioneering senior class, this game will be the defining moment of the past three years. It is a showdown the Hawks have been building toward since August, when they kicked off their season against defending 5A state champion Coeur dAlene.
We are battle tested, Young said. We didnt win every battle, but we scheduled those tough games for a reason. I think were as ready to play Blackfoot as weve ever been. They have our utmost respect, but were ready to go down there, play our style of football, and see where the chips fall.