With heavy graduation losses around the SIC, BOISE edged Centennial by the slimmest of margins in the coaches’ poll — a single point.
The Braves, who have reached 10 straight district title games and won three of the last four, lost the conference player of the year in Muga Katanga. But they return several options to fill the net, with Matt Ivanoff leading the group.
CENTENNIAL fields a new coach in Scott Lewis after former MLS player Logan Emory accepted a job at the University of Portland. Lewis inherits one of the league’s best strikers in Manasse Mbuyi and a deep bench, but he said the Patriots will have to stop giving away sloppy goals to contend.
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The two-time state champ and defending district champ, TIMBERLINE, lost the state player of the year, Alain Murhula, and three other all-state members to graduation. But the Wolves can build around their all-state goalkeeper and College of Idaho commit Parker Billings while an attack led by Rowan Pierson finds its stride.
Little separates the next three challengers. BORAH needs to score more consistently to join the upper tier. ROCKY MOUNTAIN has no trouble scoring but struggles at times to defend. And MOUNTAIN VIEW is adjusting to a new leader in former Kuna coach Steve Brent.
The addition of three teams with the classification cycle did little to clear the picture of an always competitive conference.
CALDWELL, the reigning regular-season and district champ, returns two first-team 4A SIC picks in midfielder Emilio Gonzales (four-year starter) and defender Danny Cuevas (three-year starter). But it’ll have to replace Adrian Arguello, an all-state selection as a freshman who joined the Portland Timbers Academy.
BISHOP KELLY will remain strong up the middle with senior Matt Sammartino (six goals in five games) directing the attack and Alex Koehl in net. MIDDLETON returns the league’s most dangerous striker in David Kofoed. And SKYVIEW always has a say in the conference race with dynamic players such as midfielder Johnny Rojas.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manasse Mbuyi, Centennial
The first-team all-5A SIC pick has already racked up six goals as the linchpin of the Patriots’ attack.
Sebastian Winn-Araneda, Mountain View
His work rate, vision and marksmanship on set pieces make him a contender for 5A SIC player of the year.
Ahmed Ibrahimovic, Borah
“The most creative player Idaho has produced in years,” Rocky Mtn. coach Skyler Bell said.
Parker Billings, Timberline
A four-year starter, the first-team all-state goalkeeper doesn’t just stop attacks. He can restart them.
Emilio Gonzales, Caldwell
Despite limited playing time due to blowouts, the four-year starter has nine goals through six games.
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Boise (5)
2. Centennial (3)
3. Timberline (1)
5. Mountain View
6. Rocky Mountain (1)
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Caldwell (3)
t-2. Bishop Kelly (1)
4. Middleton (2)
8. Mountain Home
Note: Two 5A, two 4A coaches did not vote.