Bill Brock isnt one to talk about his accomplishments. The Middleton High football coach doesnt even know how many coach of the year awards he has won during his 26-year career.
Those plaques 17 to be exact sit in a cardboard box on the floor in his office.
He is always in relentless pursuit of whats best for his kids, said Middleton baseball coach Pete Dias, whose son Victor is a standout running back for the Vikings.
A lot of coaches do it for a lot of different reasons, but Bill does it because one, he loves and respects the game of football and two, he loves these kids like they are his own.
Middleton (10-1) is back on the field Friday night to take on Blackfoot (10-1) in the 4A state championship game. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Dona Larsen Park in Boise.
Middleton is considered the underdog against the defending champions, but the 44 players on the Vikings roster have clearly adopted Brocks attitude. They are unassuming, hard-working and devoted to the success of the team as a whole.
Our kids just have a lot of confidence in themselves and their teammates, and they have a lot of respect for their teammates, Brock said. They want to do their best not only for themselves, but for each other.
Middleton used the team-first approach to win its first 4A Southern Idaho Conference regular-season title last month, then earned its second straight appearance in the state championship game with a 32-30 win against Bonneville last week.
Middleton trailed Bonneville 10-0 midway through the second quarter, and the game was tied at 16-16 and 24-24, but just like their coach, the players never panicked.
I dont think they always have the most talented team, Middleton Athletic Director Ted Reynolds said. I think theres teams weve played, frankly, this year that were better than us, but because of the fundamentals and because these kids just dont quit and the coaches dont give up on them, they dont panic. Thats been a significant factor in the success of the team.
Middleton also survived a double-overtime thriller against Bishop Kelly in October, a game that ended up deciding the regular-season championship.
Coach Brock has helped bring a strong tradition to the Middleton football program, Bishop Kelly coach Tim Brennan said. His players believe in their system and play hard every down and to the last play of the game.
Playing hard has been as much of a priority as it was a necessity. The Vikings moved up to 4A in 2006 and remain one of the smaller schools in the classification. Even so, Middleton has qualified for five consecutive state playoffs, beginning in 2008.
Despite their consistency, the Vikings have continued to fly under the radar. In the past five 4A SIC preseason coaches polls, the Vikings were picked to finish seventh (2008), sixth (2009), fourth (2010), third (2011) and fourth (2012).
The kids dont feel like they get the respect that some of the other teams get. Because of that, thats kind of helped foster that whole workmanlike attitude and the whole idea that, Im going to outwork my opponents, Middleton defensive coordinator Rob Kiser said. It kind of adds fuel to the fire for our kids because our kids have high expectations, obviously.
Blackfoot has won three titles since 2007, but thats of little consequence to the Vikings. After last years 42-24 title loss to the Broncos at Holt Arena in Pocatello, they have been intent on redemption and bringing home the programs first state championship in school history.
Bill gets them to play every play like its the last play of their career, Kiser said. Whether its week one or week 12, it doesnt matter.
Brock and his staff have prepared the team this week by going through the usual routine: Film from 3 to 3:30 p.m. and practice from 3:30 to around 6 p.m.
Although their aim is to win, Brocks true satisfaction lies in producing high-character student-athletes.
We feel like when our kids leave the program after four years that theyre going to divulge their character, he said, and win lose or draw, its going to be something that we can all be proud of.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX