Spread offenses have proliferated throughout high school football programs in the Treasure Valley, allowing many teams to put up video game-like numbers week after week.
But the top game in the Valley this week features two old-school programs, No. 2 Bishop Kelly (5-0) and Emmett (3-2). Both have built their 4A programs on toughness. Both feature powerful run games out of the I-formation. And both play straight up and physical defenses.
“They are as physical of a team as we’re going to play this year,” Bishop Kelly coach Tim Brennan said. “They have some big offensive linemen, but they also have some running backs that are big and strong.”
So who has the edge? Read on to find out.
Bishop Kelly at Emmett, 7 p.m. Friday
After falling to No. 3 Middleton two weeks ago by seven points and to No. 1 Skyview last week by one point, Emmett’s murderers’ row of a schedule continues with No. 2 Bishop Kelly.
The Huskies proved themselves contenders last week as Michael Walker ripped off rushing yardage at will, piling up 247 of them through the heart of Skyview’s defense. Emmett’s leading rusher (531 yards, 3 TDs) will find tougher sledding against Bishop Kelly. But Jake Whittemore (488 yards, 4 TDs) is another threat out of the backfield for the Huskies.
Brennan said the Knights will have to stay disciplined and patient on defense.
“You’ve got to make sure they don’t get a big play and try to control the small plays,” Brennan said. “Make them drive the field, hope you can make a play or they make a mistake.”
Emmett will have to line up Friday without its most explosive weapon, wide receiver/defensive back DJ Crump. The senior suffered a severe concussion in the final minute against Skyview last week and was carted off the field in an ambulance.
Emmett coach Zane Hines ruled him out this week and said he’s week-to-week going forward.
“Obviously, teams will be more inclined without him to stack the box and put extra defenders in there to stop the run without him as a vertical threat,” Hines said. “What we have to do is see what other skill guys are going to step up and stretch defenses and cause defensive coordinators concern.”
But the largest hurdle for any Bishop Kelly opponent remains the mental one. The Knights have owned the 4A SIC in recent years, winning four straight league titles as well as 18 games in a row and 40 of their last 42 games against conference foes.
Emmett knows that history all too well, losing 15 of its last 16 games vs. Bishop Kelly, including an overtime defeat last year.
Down one of the state’s top playmakers in Crump, it’s hard to see Emmett clearing that hurdle.
Bishop Kelly 27, Emmett 22
Rocky Mountain at Borah, 7 p.m. Friday
No. 2 Rocky Mountain (4-1) looked like an unstoppable machine through the first three weeks of the season with an explosive offense and a smothering defense.
But cracks have started to appear. The Grizzlies’ defense couldn’t stop a last-minute, game-winning drive led by Mountain View’s backup quarterback and third-string running back two weeks ago. And it gave up 404 yards last week while escaping an upset bid from Timberline.
“It was just basic stuff,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said of his defense’s mistakes against Timberline. “There were times we didn’t get lined up in the right gap, we weren’t square or we missed a tackle. It was just some untimely things we weren’t doing earlier in the year.”
That defense will get tested again by Borah and conference-leading passer Jake Standlee, who has thrown for 1,362 yards and 15 TDs with four interceptions. Standlee torched the Centennial defense last week for 288 yards and five TDs.
Culig admitted his team had a bit of a hangover from the Mountain View loss. But Timberline delivered a wakeup call, so expect the Grizzlies to get back on track Friday.
Rocky Mountain 38, Borah 28
Kuna at Centennial, 7 p.m. Friday
It’s only the second week of the pod schedule, but an 0-2 start deals a major blow to both teams’ playoff chances.
The defenses ruled this matchup last year as Kuna took a 23-6 win. But settle in for a shootout as Centennial’s spread, pass-heavy offense takes on Kuna and its pistol attack.
Kuna only managed 12.8 points a game a year ago. But under first-year coach Sherm Blaser, the Kavemen have morphed into an offensive force putting up 35.2 points a game, second in the 5A SIC, behind the league’s leading rusher (Caden Cobb) and receiver (Jerome Miller).
That duo will keep the Kavemen in the postseason hunt.
Kuna 45, Centennial 35
Timberline at Eagle, 7 p.m. Friday
Picked last in the 5A SIC Pod B preseason coaches’ poll, Timberline raised plenty of eyebrows last week when it pushed pod favorite Rocky Mountain to the brink before falling 39-32.
Timberline’s running back duo of Jacob Pinkney and Ed Osterberger has proved itself quite a weapon with Pinkney punishing defenses inside and Osterberger breaking off big plays.
The young Wolves are certainly playing above expectations. But back-to-back road games against perennial state powers is just too tough.
Eagle 35, Timberline 21
Week 6 high school football picks
Each week, Michael Lycklama of the Idaho Statesman will pick the winner of every high school football game in the Treasure Valley. Computer picks are made by using the Elo rankings popularized by FiveThirtyEight.com. The odds Elo gives each team of winning is also listed.
Nampa at Capital (Thur.)
Boise at Meridian
Columbia at Mtn View
Mtn View (91%)
Rocky Mtn at Borah
Rocky Mtn (69%)
Kuna at Centennial
Timberline at Eagle
Caldwell at Skyview
Bishop Kelly at Emmett
Middleton at Ridgevue
Vallivue at Mountain Home
Homedale at Fruitland
Parma at Weiser
Cole Valley Christian at Melba
New Plymouth at Marsing
New Plymouth (78%)
McCall at Nampa Christian
Rimrock at Wilder
Notus at Idaho City
Tri-Valley at Horseshoe Bend
Salmon River at Cascade
Salmon River (91%)
Council at Garden Valley
Garden Valley (70%)