This weekend’s high school football title game previews

rroberts@idahostatesman.comNovember 22, 2013 

5A

Highland vs. Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene proved it is still a strong team, even without starting quarterback Gunnar Amos, who broke his ankle in the quarterfinals.

Sophomore backup Austin Lee passed for 105 yards and one touchdown, but also had two interceptions in last week’s 42-14 semifinal victory over Capital. The Vikings relied on their ground game as Ty Holgate rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns, and three other Vikings combined for 184 yards and three more touchdowns.

Highland, which beat Coeur d’Alene 24-21 in late September at Holt Arena in Pocatello, dominated defensively in a 24-6 semifinal win against Rocky Mountain. The Rams limited the Grizzlies to 63 rushing yards.

Unbeaten Highland will need its defense to be at its best on the road against a Coeur d’Alene team that is playing in its fourth straight title game, including two wins.

4A

Skyview vs. Bishop Kelly

These 4A Southern Idaho Conference rivals meet for the second time this season, but it’s been 10 games since their last meeting — a 14-10 win by Bishop Kelly in Nampa on Sept. 6.

Bishop Kelly finished the regular season as the top defense in the conference, and through 11 games the Knights have limited opponents to an average of 10.4 points per game.

Skyview has been equally dominant since its season-opening loss, especially on offense. The Hawks led the 4A SIC in scoring, averaging 44.9 points per game while allowing 14.9.

Bishop Kelly has won four state championships, according to records kept by the Idaho High School Activities Association, and Skyview is trying to win the first title in program history. In the final state media poll of the season, Bishop Kelly earned the top spot and Skyview was No. 2.

3A

Fruitland vs. Shelley

Playing in the state championship game has become a tradition for both teams. Fruitland is making its eighth straight appearance, with wins in 2006 and 2010. Shelley has advanced to the 3A title game four times in the past seven seasons, winning three.

The Russets played in the 4A classification in 2010 and 2011. Shelley defeated Fruitland 37-10 in last year’s championship game. Shelley’s only loss this season was against Manti High (Utah) 21-0; otherwise, the Russets have outscored opponents by an average of 34.6 to 8.4. Shelley has shut out its opponent in two of its past three games and held seven of its opponents to a touchdown or less.

Fruitland avenged its only loss with a 30-29 semifinal win against Homedale last week.

2A

West Side vs. Declo

Defending state champion Declo avenged a regular-season loss to Wendell with a 35-13 win in last week’s semifinals, putting the Hornets on track to win their second title in program history.

West Side ended a streak of three straight losses to Firth with last week’s 24-18 overtime win against the Cougars. West Side last won a state title in 2010, which also happens to be the last time the Pirates played Declo. West Side won that matchup 33-0 in the state semifinals.

Declo enters on a six-game winning streak, while West Side has won 10 in a row since a loss in its season opener.

1A DIVISION I

Troy vs. Hagerman

Troy and Hagerman have spent the majority of the season ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the state media poll, with Troy getting six first-place votes and Hagerman five in the final poll of the season.

Neither team played in last year’s title game, which was won by Kamiah. Hagerman’s most recent title was in 2011 and Troy’s in 2010.

Hagerman hasn’t been challenged this season, averaging 60.8 points per game, including a 70-30 semifinal victory against Raft River last week.

Troy held off Prairie 42-36 in the semifinals, and will need its defense to shut down Hagerman quarterback and 2011 1A All-Idaho Player of the Year Kade Kress.

1A DIVISION II

Salmon River vs. Council

Defending state champion Salmon River has won 16 straight games dating to last season and has not played a competitive game since a 36-32 win over Prairie on Sept. 6. Nine of the Savages’ games have ended early because of the mercy rule.

Senior quarterback Leighton Vander Esch has been nearly unstoppable, accounting for 1,808 passing yards, 1,453 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns.

Salmon River defeated Council 50-0 in Council during the regular season, but the Lumberjacks were playing without starting quarterback Mick Wilson and top lineman Lucas Daniels. Both teams expect a much more competitive game this time around.

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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