Idaho has punched above its weight class in recent years, producing top-flight quarterbacks such as Taysom Hill (BYU), Taylor Kelly (Arizona State) and Tanner Mangum (BYU). But the crop in this year’s 5A playoffs may rank as the best and deepest one yet. Here’s a look at four signal callers putting up jaw-dropping stats and looking to lead their team into the semifinals.
▪ School: Coeur d’Alene
▪ Size: 6-4, 205
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▪ Commit: Oregon
▪ Quarterfinal: At Eagle, 6 p.m. Friday
The junior has drawn the majority of headlines this fall after his commitment to the Ducks in June.
The website 24/7 Sports ranks him as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the nation in the class of 2018. He’s proven himself as one of the country’s elites this fall, completing 66 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has run for 882 yards and 21 TDs, averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
Eagle coach Paul Peterson scouted him in person last week and realized the Mustangs have little-to-no margin for error to contain Yanoff.
“I see a special athlete,” Peterson said. “He’s tall. He’s a big kid. But boy oh boy, he’s quick and elusive, and he can really run.
“He threw a couple balls last week against Borah where he was on the move and, without setting feet, flicked it 50 yards in the air. He’s just a natural athlete.”
The No. 1-ranked Mustangs (9-0) field 5A’s stoutest defense, holding opponents to 10.6 points a game. But Peterson said like Hill (Highland High, BYU), Yankoff can turn a sliver of space into six points. So all 11 members of the defense will have to work in unison to corral Yankoff.
“You kind of have to have a mentality that we’re forming a net around him,” Peterson said. “Our pass-rush lanes and their integrity can’t be deviated from.
“If you get too aggressive with him, he’ll exploit space. There has to be an element of patience and kind of let him declare what he’s up to, and then react.”
▪ School: Lewiston
▪ Size: 6-4, 235
▪ Offer: Idaho
▪ Quarterfinal: vs. Rocky Mountain at Kibbie Dome, 8 p.m. MT Friday
For all of Yankoff’s accolades, the most prolific passer in Idaho hails from Lewiston, where Richardson has completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,156 yards, 39 TDs and three interceptions despite not playing the second half of four games and the fourth quarter of three more.
He’s allowed the Bengals’ Air Raid offense to lead the 5A classification at 49 points per game. And while he’s more of a traditional dropback quarterback, he’s also proven he’s no statue with 205 yards and four TDs on the ground.
“I’m surprised (Washington State’s) Mike Leach hasn’t offered this kid because he’s got velocity on the ball. He’s smart. He can press it,” Rocky Mountain coach Scott Criner said. “There’s a reason they’re undefeated, and it’s all because of him. That’s not taking anything away from the rest of their team. He’s just really, really good.”
The efficient numbers are nothing new for Richardson, who threw for 2,879 yards, 34 TDs and four interceptions last year. But the only Division I school to extend an offer is Idaho.
The Grizzlies’ secondary has allowed 151 passing yards per game, ranking ninth in the 12-team 5A SIC. So to limit Richardson, Rocky Mountain will need to take advantage of any turnovers and try to shorten the game with its powerful ground game.
“That’s the best thing you can do — don’t let him on the field,” Criner joked.
▪ School: Mountain View
▪ Size: 6-5, 205
▪ Commit: Montana State
▪ Quarterfinal: vs. Highland at Holt Arena (Pocatello), 5:30 p.m. Friday
Last fall, Rovig was one of several weapons for the Mavericks on their way to the state championship game. But graduation made him the go-to option this fall, and coach Judd Benedick said it took Rovig a couple games to adjust to the leadership role.
Through four games, he completed 48 percent of his passes for six TDs and four interceptions. But he’s turned it on since then, completing 71 percent for 13 TDs and one interception down the stretch.
“Inside, he put a lot of pressure on himself that he is, ‘That guy,’” Benedick said. “Just more than anything, he was doing that to himself. He wanted to be great, wanted to prove he’s great.
“That pressure can get to anybody. The last half of the year, he’s decided to settle in and be himself and go back to playing football.”
An offseason in the weight room improved his arm strength and has made life miserable for opposing safeties as he fires rainbows down the field. And he’s become a true threat with his legs, running for 350 yards and 10 TDs.
▪ School: Capital
▪ Size: 6-1, 180
▪ Offer: Adams State
▪ Quarterfinal: vs. Madison at Centennial High, 7 p.m. Friday
Korf didn’t pop out of the 6-4 quarterback mold like the other three signal callers, and that has limited his appeal to recruiters. He owns an offer from Adams State, a Division II program in Colorado, and he’s received interest from California junior colleges that believe he’s a diamond in the rough capable of moving on to a Division I program.
That hasn’t limited Korf on the field, where he’s led Capital to seven straight wins and a 5A SIC Pod A championship. The senior has completed 73 percent of his passes for 2,078 yards, 26 TDs and five interceptions. And he’s added 441 yards and nine TDs on the ground.
Those numbers come despite sitting out the second half of four games due to the running-clock mercy rule.
“I’ve found out through these quarterbacks we’ve had over the years the quarterback position is like a marriage,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “It’s got to be the right fit between the head coach, the quarterback coach, the offensive coordinator.
“... So far, we just haven’t found that with Drew. But from on-the-field performance and executing what we ask him to do, and protecting the football and being a leader, at least our staff here at Capital, we think all these guys are crazy.”
Tale of the tape
Coeur d’Alene’s Colson Yankoff, Lewiston’s Colton Richardson, Capital’s Drew Korf and Mountain View’s Tucker Rovig have all burned up the stat sheets this fall under center. And all four have their teams in the 5A state quarterfinals Friday.
Yankoff, Coeur d’Alene
Rovig, Mountain View