Knowing a single detail could be the difference between a state semifinal spot and the end of the season, the Bishop Kelly High football team spent more than a half hour working on a defensive drill Tuesday.
Get it right or go home.
That is the reality for 4A Southern Idaho Conference rivals Bishop Kelly and Middleton, who will play for the fourth time in two seasons when they line up at 7 p.m. Friday at Nick Ysursa Field for their state quarterfinal.
I think we know every time we play Middleton it’s going to be a battle. They are a pound-it-up-the-middle team kind of like we are.
Ben Hruby, Bishop Kelly fullback, on a rematch with Middleton in the state quarterfinals
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The Knights have won five in a row against the Vikings and lead the all-time series 32-7, but their 20-11 win at Middleton on Sept. 30 was much closer than the three-time defending state champions would have liked. BK led 7-3 at the half and by three points late in the fourth quarter.
“Our kids understand that it’s going to be a physical, four-quarter game, and we’ve got to really play well to come out with a victory,” Bishop Kelly coach Tim Brennan said. “I know both defenses will play very well, so it’s going to be a close game.”
Bishop Kelly (9-0) and Middleton (7-3) ranked first and second, respectively, in the 4A SIC on defense during the regular season. The Knights, who are coming off a bye week, held opponents to 11.2 points and 204 yards per game, and the Vikings weren’t far behind at 12.2 points and 215 yards.
“Every game is different, but I know that we’re going to have to go out and defend every inch of grass and do the best we can to limit their plays,” Middleton coach Bill Brock said. “They’ve got some big-time playmakers.”
A quartet of seniors headlines BK’s offensive attack.
Running back Luke Burley (805 yards, 10 TDs), fullback Ben Hruby (329 yards, 6 TDs), quarterback Bronson King (1,353 passing yards, 18 TDs, 2 INTs) and wide receiver Vince Sengelmann (951 yards, 12 TDs) have contributed game-winning performances this season.
Middleton has persevered behind a methodical running game, distributing carries between a seasoned group of returners, including junior Mitch Beitia (617 yards, 4 TDs) and senior Jaden Coombs (472 yards, 9 TDs).
Senior DJ Hagler, who missed a bulk of the season with a broken leg, was cleared to return to his starting role at outside linebacker in the Vikings’ final regular-season game against Vallivue. Brock said Hagler (264 yards, 2 TDs) may return this week at running back.
Hagler’s status may be one of the few X-factors in a game where the opponents are so well acquainted.
“That’s what makes these games so competitive, is familiarity,” Brock said. “We’re going to do what we do, and they’re going to do what they do, I am sure with maybe a wrinkle or two. It’s just going to amount to who can go out and execute under pressure and who can limit their turnovers and create turnovers.”