Within hours of deciding on a motto for the Bishop Kelly High football team’s 2016 season, senior Ben Hruby went online and ordered 70 customized hats that read “1-0.”
While coach Tim Brennan was impressed with the theme his players came up with, he wasn’t exactly pleased with their choice of headgear.
A visor doesn’t provide much protection for a bald head during the summer months, Brennan joked.
Wardrobe choice aside, it was a proud moment for the veteran coach.
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“I think I remember saying something to one of the seniors, ‘Hey, that’s the way it is, one game at a time,’ ” Brennan said. “They said, ‘No, Coach. It’s one day at a time. One day to get better every day.’ They came up with that, and that’s their chant. Last year was ‘Hard work,’ and who knows what next year will be.”
Winning three consecutive 4A state championships doesn’t happen by accident, and Brennan gives much of the credit to senior leaders who have stepped up each year. After the Knights’ 2013 title, 19 seniors graduated, then 18 the year after that and 18 more last spring.
“From the minute the clock hit 0:00 at the end of the state championship last year, those guys were gone, and we were the new seniors,” outside linebacker Bryce Mers said. “We knew we had to step up and take that leadership role.”
The result is an 18-game winning streak and a home semifinal Friday night against Blackfoot (8-3). Since 2009, the state championship trophy has ended up in the hands of the Knights (10-0) or Broncos every year, including title games between the two programs in 2010 and 2014.
“I know that (Blackfoot) will come over here fired up to play, expecting to win because of their tradition,” Brennan said. “It’s two of the best 4A football programs in the state, and it will be a very physical, tough football game.”
Watching the senior classes before them compete has left this year’s seniors with a championship blueprint, but carrying on that tradition also comes with pressure.
Their 1-0 theme is a way of reducing that pressure.
“It just comes down to taking one practice at a time, one drill at a time, one play at a time,” quarterback Bronson King said. “Every play, every down, give it your all, and that translates onto the field.”
Bishop Kelly has 17 seniors this year, and each is aware their time as a Knight is nearing its end. They’re already preparing to hand the baton to the junior class.
“We have to set an example for the younger kids,” senior TE/DE Raoul Johnson said. “Show them that with hard work and dedication, they can accomplish what we’re accomplishing now and what we hope to accomplish in the future.”
SKYVIEW VS. SKYLINE
In its first two playoff wins, Skyview outscored Idaho Falls and Wood River a combined 104-20 by using an air attack that averages 430 yards and 38.8 points a game.
On Friday night at Holt Arena, the Hawks (8-3) meet a Skyline (10-0) team that has put more points on the board than any 4A team this season. The Grizzlies, who moved down to 4A from 5A this school year, average 46.3 points per game.
“It is going to be a heck of a game. They’re obviously undefeated and one of the best teams in the state for a reason,” Skyview coach David Young said. “But I like our shot at them.”
Skyview’s passing game is one of the strongest in the state between sophomore quarterback Wyatt Storer and receivers Kyle Pierce and DeMonte Horton. Storer passed for 438 yards and seven TDs in a 62-13 quarterfinal win over Wood River, sending the Hawks into the semifinals for the fourth time since 2010.
In the win, Storer set Skyview single-season records for completions (239), passing yards (3,175) and touchdowns (42).
“The kids are definitely excited and upbeat and very positive about the way we are playing,” Young said.