The Idaho Statesman is previewing high school football teams and conferences in the Treasure Valley area for 18 days leading up to the season, which starts Aug. 26. Follow IdahoStatesman.com for a list of all the previews.
Youth is the name of the game at Caldwell.
After graduating 31 seniors last season, the Cougars start the year with four defensive returners starting and not a single offensive starter back in camp.
Caldwell coach Zach McGee braced himself for the dread of losing 31 seniors. But he said his concerns haven’t proven true. With only 11 seniors, nearly every position is open for competition, and his players are treating it that way.
“They’re not quite sure what to expect, so they’re expecting the greatest thing that could happen will happen,” McGee said. “So we’re playing like that, we’re practicing like that and we’re getting after it.”
The Cougars’ defense quietly underwent a revelation last season, holding opponents to 23.3 points a game, a 14-point improvement over 2014. Returning experience is stretched thin, but Caldwell has some at each level in defensive end Triden Mitchell, outside linebacker Camron Manker and safeties Tevin Sio and Noah Rohrdanz.
“I think on defense we’re going to be solid, and that’s going to be the marker of where we can go,” McGee said. “If we can play some ball-control offense and some tight defense, I think we’ll be in games.”
The offense starts from scratch with junior Anthony Pizano and Chase Burfeind battling for the starting quarterback spot. And look for Sio to step up as the primary playmaker.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Triden Mitchell, DE
The 6-5, 220-pound end will pose a matchup problem for opposing offenses and set the edge of Caldwell’s defense.
Tevin Sio, RB/FS
A quick, slippery playmaker on both sides of the ball, the Cougars will move him around on offense to create space.
Camron Manker, OLB
A broken collarbone forced him to miss two games last year but he still finished fourth on the team in tackles as a junior.
Noah Rohrdanz, FS
The brains and captain of the defense, the Cougars will rely on him to continue their defensive improvement.
at Mountain Home*
* conference game
Last year: 3-6, 1-4 4A SIC
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Coach: Zach McGee, sixth season
Record at school: 12-33
Stadium: Moke Strong Athletic Complex