Months of two-a-day practices in sweltering heat, grueling summer workouts and regular-season battles all lead to this — the high school football playoffs.
The postseason kicks off Thursday at the 5A, 2A and 1A Division II levels, with the full slate coming Friday.
The Treasure Valley has two of the top five teams in the latest 5A state media poll and four of the top five teams in 4A. It’s time to see who can live up to the hype and who can prove they’ve been overlooked all season.
1995 The last time Borah won a playoff game, beating Capital 14-13 to reach the state semifinals. The Lions have lost seven straight postseason games since then.
Rigby at Borah, 7 p.m. Thursday
Borah (6-3) whiffed at history last week, falling 41-7 and having the mercy rule invoked as Eagle won the 5A SIC Pod B crown with the win and a coin toss.
A victory would have guaranteed the Lions their first pod or league title since 2012. But Borah has a chance to rebound this week and take another shot at history by winning its first playoff game since 1995.
“This was a blessing in disguise,” Borah coach Jason Burton said of the loss. “Because when you win six games in a row, you can get away from the things that got you those six victories.”
The wake-up call came at just the right time, as Rigby (7-2) brings a potent no-huddle attack to Dona Larsen Park. Senior running back Braden Youngstrom (1,742 all-purpose yards, 19 TDs) leads an offense averaging 39.4 points per game, third-most in the 5A classification.
Burton said the Lions will need to bottle up Youngstrom and force the Trojans to look elsewhere for production. Meanwhile, Borah must find a way to get junior receiver Ellis Magnuson more involved. Eagle shut him down to three total touches last week for minus-5 yards.
Burton addressed the history at stake with his team Friday and Saturday. But this week he’s put the stakes to bed, focusing instead on the task at hand.
“We talk about doing something special and being a great team,” Burton said. “... But it’s not we need to win this for the program. It’s go win this for yourselves.”
Borah 29, Rigby 22
Timberline at Capital, 7 p.m. Friday
A 34-24 loss at Mountain View last week sends Capital on the long road through the playoffs. The Eagles (6-2) missed out on a first-round bye and will now need to win three straight games to get back to the state championship.
But that’s not unheard of.
“You’ve got to play that one extra game,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “But Mountain View did it last year and ended up playing us in the state championship. We’ve used that as an example with the guys.”
The playoff draw also leaves Capital with the unenviable task of facing an opponent twice. The Eagles beat Timberline 34-17 on Sept. 16 for their 15th straight win against their Boise School District rival. But the Wolves were no pushover, cutting the lead to 21-17 late in the third quarter. Simis said that ought to keep his team from overlooking a program it is 19-1 against since Timberline opened in 1998.
Capital’s game plan will have to focus around slowing Timberline’s Ed Osterberger, who finished second in the 5A SIC with 1,492 rushing yards, averaging 10 yards a carry and scoring 12 TDs.
Osterberger is a home-run hitter, capable of turning the slightest crack into a big play. But Capital’s defense doesn’t have many cracks, and defensive tackle Keagan McCoy led the league with 15 sacks.
“He’s relentless,” Simis said. “He’s unblockable by the average high school lineman. He’s a difference-maker. He’s got 30 plays behind the line of scrimmage this year.”
Capital 28, Timberline 14
2-23 Playoff record of the 4A teams from the Twin Falls-based District Four since 2009. Middleton (6-3) hosts Canyon Ridge (4-5) and Bishop Kelly (7-2) travels to Twin Falls (4-5) on Friday.
Rocky Mountain at Post Falls, 8 p.m. Friday
No. 3-ranked Rocky Mountain drew the short end of the stick in the 5A SIC Pod B’s three-way tie for first. A one-point loss to Borah and a coin flip send the Grizzlies (7-2) on an eight-hour bus trip to No. 5 Post Falls (8-1).
But Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig isn’t dwelling on the tough draw.
“I was totally ready to go,” Culig said. “I don’t mind going up there. It’s another chance for us to get better. We’re playing at a real high level.”
The Grizzlies face a Post Falls team that was undefeated until a 59-29 loss last week at Coeur d’Alene. Four of the Trojans’ wins came against Washington teams with a combined record of 10-21, so it’s hard to know what to make of them.
But one thing is for sure: Post Falls can light up the scoreboard. It is scoring 44.9 points per game, the most in the 5A classification.
The Trojans haven’t faced a fast and physical defense like Rocky Mountain’s, though. The Grizzlies rank second in 5A at 15.3 points a game allowed. And their triple-option offense is rolling with offensive lineman Keeghan Freeborn, a Boise State commit, back in the lineup.
Rocky Mountain ran for 458 yards two weeks ago and then ran for 369 yards last week.
“He’s incredible,” Culig said of Freeborn. “The amount of intensity he brings and how dominant he is, it’s irreplaceable. He’s made everybody around him better. In my mind, he’s the player of the year and he’s only played two games.”
It’s tough for a high-powered offense to score when it doesn’t have the ball.
Rocky Mountain 35, Post Falls 22
Playoff 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.
Rigby at Borah (Thur.)
Meridian at Madison
Timberline at Capital
Rocky Mountain at Post Falls
Rocky Mtn (69%)
Canyon Ridge at Middleton
Bishop Kelly at Twin Falls
Emmett at Century
Kimberly at Weiser
Teton at Fruitland
Priest River at Homedale (Sat.)
Marsing at Payette
Wendell at New Plymouth (Thur.)
New Plymouth (88%)
St. Maries at McCall-Donnelly
Nampa Christian at Orofino
Melba at Grangeville
Idaho City at Horseshoe Bend
Wilder at Notus
Garden Valley at Tri-Valley (Sat.)