The pair won a combined 1,243 high school baseball games, 13 state titles and founded two of Idaho’s most dominant programs.
Timberline and Eagle will have new faces in their dugout for the first time in program history, perhaps opening the conference race the two longtime coaches so thoroughly dominated.
Below, we handicap the new-look field and pick the top players to watch this spring.
After a rare postseason at home, the Grizzlies return a stacked lineup with five returning starters ready to make a deep run at state. Rocky Mountain remains strong up the middle with starting shortstop Tyler Hollow, second baseman Bryson Moorhouse and center fielder Ryan Hansen returning. That will make life easy for a pitching staff led by juniors Ethan Christianson, a reigning first-team all-conference pick who posted a 1.56 ERA last year, and Gabe Hughes, a Gonzaga commit.
The Mustangs enter a new era after Wright, the only coach in program history, retired with a career record of 642-313 over 44 years between three schools. Former Boise State quarterback Tony Hilde takes over and inherits seven returning starters from last year’s district champion. Hilde said all that returning experience — including two all-conference first teamers in Alex Guerrero and Max Nichols — will make Eagle tough defensively.
The Mavericks made a surprise run to take second at district last year and return five starters from that state qualifier. Coach Matt Rasmussen said his team is relatively young, but the Mavs boast one of the deepest pitching staffs in the 5A SIC. They can trot out 10 quality arms, including College of Southern Idaho commits Brendan Boily and Boden Mills. That depth will come in handy during the condensed postseason schedule.
THE DARK HORSE
Another perennial power that missed state last year is ready to return to glory. Capital brings back eight starters, including its entire starting infield from last season — third baseman Mitch Dean, shortstop Tristan Newell, second baseman Payton Hamilton and first baseman Coby Roberts. Coach Tony Brulotte said the Eagles have improved at the plate after back-to-back Double-A state Legion championships. Consistency, especially against the conference’s top pitchers, will determine if Capital can return to state.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DREW ZMUDA, CAPITAL
The future Division I pitcher (Grand Canyon) can touch 90 mph with his fastball and put hitters away with a devastating slider.
ALEX GUERRERO, EAGLE
The junior catcher committed to Washington a year ago. He has shown the arm strength and big bat to prove he’s worthy of the next level.
REED HARRINGTON, EAGLE
The hard-throwing, 6-5 right-hander was a weapon out of the bullpen last year. He moves into the No. 1 spot in the rotation this season.
ETHAN CHRISTIANSON, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
The junior lefty can throw three pitches for a strike in any count and has committed to a Division I scholarship (Seattle University).
RYAN HANSEN, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
The speedy senior center fielder hit .389 last year with 18 stolen bases and is gunning for his third first-team 5A SIC selection.
5A SIC coaches’ poll
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Rocky Mountain (5)
2. Eagle (3)
3. Mountain View (3)
4. Capital (1)
5A state tournament leaving Memorial Stadium
Borah and Capital will host the 5A state tournament May 18-20 as Memorial Stadium booked a concert for the same weekend. Boise Hawks General Manager Bob Flannery expects the tournament to return to Memorial Stadium next season.