A new high school football season greets a new coverage angle from the Idaho Statesman — a weekly picks column.
Each week, I’ll pick who will win every football game involving a Treasure Valley team, including 24 during Week 1. The opening week of the season is always a crapshoot as honest coaches admit even they don’t know what their team is capable of yet.
Yet, here I am, out on the proverbial limb.
I’ll dive into the details of the top matchups in the Treasure Valley, explaining how and why my selected team will win, along with the final score. My picks for every game are available online at IdahoStatesman.com.
Some weeks I’ll be right. Other weeks I’ll be wrong — loud wrong.
Before anyone gets their girdle in a bunch, this is supposed to be fun. To build buzz. To drive debate. To promote passion.
Looking for bulletin board material? Hang this up.
Need to foment an us-against-the-world mentality? I’m your huckleberry.
Want to tell me what a moron I am? My email address, Twitter handle and phone number are all listed on this story.
But before anyone claims it: No. I did not attend your rival’s high school, nor any school in Idaho. You’ll have to get more creative than that.
Mountain View at Eagle, 7 p.m. Friday
The center of gravity in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference remains built around the league’s Big Four in Mountain View, Capital, Eagle and Rocky Mountain. All four made the state semifinals last season, and no one in the league has won a 5A playoff game outside of the Big Four since 2010 when Centennial reached the finals.
Thankfully, the schedule blesses us with a matchup of two of the Big Four teams right out of the gate. The two split their meetings last season, with Eagle taking a 22-19 win in Week 1 but Mountain View following with a 25-15 upset victory in the state semifinals en route to its first state championship.
Not-so-thankfully, the West Ada School District and Sprinturf have played will-they-or-won’t-they with the new $621,204 artificial turf field at Eagle. After sweating it out the past three weeks, Sprinturf will finish the field in time for Friday’s game.
Graduation hit both teams hard. Eagle returns just one starter on both sides of the ball, while Mountain View lost seven first-team All-Idaho members and starters at 18 of 22 positions. All over the field, brand-new starters will take their first snaps with a perennial state power staring back at them.
“It’s tough. There’s no time to warm up,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. “You don’t have a warm-up game, a luxury of maybe making some mistakes and still have an opportunity to win it.”
Eagle coach Paul Peterson said both coaching staffs know each other so well there won’t be many surprises. Instead, the in-game adjustments will be key with so many fresh-faced players.
“Both teams are going to play up-tempo and put pressure on the other team and cause stress,” Peterson said. “I really think with the amount of inexperience on the field at the varsity level — on both sides of the field — whoever can get settled down, the first team to do that will have the upper hand.”
Both return talented offensive weapons to build around. Mountain View brings back the leading rusher from its state championship team, Caden Hansen. And Eagle returns first-team all-conference quarterback Devan Bridgewater.
But the edge lies on the offensive line, where Eagle must rebuild from scratch while Mountain View returns two starters.
Mountain View 31, Eagle 22
Borah vs. Capital at Dona Larsen Park, 7 p.m. Friday
The city of Boise’s largest rivalry lives up to the billing with the pomp, pageantry and passion surrounding the game. But that rivalry ends at the scoreboard.
Capital has dominated the Lions for the past two decades, winning 15 of the last 16 meetings and 18 of the last 20 against Borah.
The Lions ended Capital’s decade of dominance with a 2015 victory that snapped “the team across town’s” 37-game winning streak against Boise School District opponents. But Capital reasserted its dominance last season, routing Borah 47-6 to open the season. No one but the most passionate Borah diehard questions Capital’s place atop the pecking order within the Boise School District.
“The one game they beat us was two years ago, so that’s fresh,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “These guys who are seniors were sophomores, and some them were suited up and they witnessed that. By them winning the game and celebrating — rightfully so — it added to the game a little bit, too.”
This year’s matchup reverses the role of last season, when Capital returned an experienced squad and Borah was rebuilding. Capital brings back just one offensive and two defensive starters, while Borah fields six returning starters on both sides of the ball.
But by the end of the night, Capital will add to its win total and sheath the school’s Gurkha sword again.
Capital 28, Borah 14
Nampa at Caldwell, 7 p.m. Friday
Fans of stout defense and fighting for each yard ought to love the state’s oldest rivalry, which is hosting its 112th meeting. A single touchdown decided the game each of the past two years, with Caldwell taking an 8-0 victory last year and Nampa a 6-0 win in 2015.
Nampa enters on a 14-game losing streak. But an influx of young talent and a strong summer have the Bulldogs eyeing an end to that streak and a possible playoff run.
I’m not going out on a limb for a playoff run. But the losing streak ends Friday.
Nampa 13, Caldwell 7
Bishop Kelly at Kuna, 7 p.m. Friday
The annual meeting loses some of its luster with the longtime rivals in different conferences. But history favors Bishop Kelly, which leads the all-time series 34-13 and has won 10 straight over the Kavemen.
The Knights are rebuilding after losing 18 of 22 starters from their state runner-up team. But a loaded backfield containing Rex Irby, Cam Foley and Khalil Forehand will lead BK to 11 in a row over Kuna.
Bishop Kelly 35, Kuna 13