Another high school football season kicks off in Idaho on Aug. 23. And with it comes a host of new players itching to prove themselves under the Friday night lights.
The season will see a new crop of stars emerge all over the Treasure Valley. Below are a few of the names you’ll hear over and over again in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference this season.
Joey Elwell, TE/LB, Mountain View
Division I coaches are beating a path to Meridian with 10 FCS programs offering a scholarship to the 6-3, 230-pound senior, including nearly the entire Big Sky Conference.
The Mavericks move the three-star recruit all over the field to take advantage of his size, speed and strength. He racked up 554 all-purpose yards and 11 TDs last season, lining up with his hand in the dirt, split wide as a receiver and in the backfield. He added 11 more two-point conversions, and Mountain View will insert him at linebacker this season to create even more havoc for opponents.
“(He has) big, strong, good hands and runs well,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said. “... He makes their team go.”
Ellis Magnuson, WR/DB, Borah
Borah features a bevy of talented receivers who can stretch the field. But every defensive coordinator’s game plan revolves around the 6-1 Magnuson, a reigning first-team All-Idaho selection in football and basketball.
He racked up 78 catches for 1,053 yards and 7 TDs last year, and he added 46 tackles, three interceptions, a blocked kick and a defensive TD on the other side of the ball.
“(He’s) a tremendous athlete, the whole package,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. “(He) catches everything and is dangerous after the catch. You have to know where he is at all times.”
Ed Osterberger, RB, Timberline
Osterberger didn’t start the first week of the 2017 season. But he finished the year with 1,679 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns and as the SIC’s co-offensive player of the year.
Opponents quickly adjusted and sold out to slow him and his home-run speed before he could get started. It didn’t work. He averaged 10.3 yards per carry to lead the Wolves to the playoffs.
“This kid is a big, physical runner, athletic and explosive too,” Skyview coach David Young said. “If you give him enough space, he can break any play and turn it into a touchdown.”
Jake Standlee, QB, Borah
Starting his third season at the head of the Lions’ offense, Standlee has seen it all. Defenses better get creative to disrupt the reigning first-team, all-conference quarterback. If they don’t, he’ll tear them apart.
He led the league with 2,227 passing yards and 21 TDs last season with only eight interceptions. He’ll spearhead a potent Borah attack that has the Lions eyeing their best season in decades.
“(He’s a) very good QB that has great touch on the long ball and good composure in the pocket,” Centennial coach David Koch said.
Jack Vering, OL/DE, Capital
Montana and Montana State have already extended offers to the 6-6, 240-pound senior, a second-team all-conference pick last season.
The struggle for Capital is to figure out where to play him. He has the strength and athleticism to play every position across the offensive line, whether it’s a pulling guard or a backside tackle. He’s also one of the leaders in the Eagles’ huddle.
“(He) will be one of the better players in Idaho,” Capital coach Todd Simis said.
Wyatt Storer, QB, Skyview
If Storer stood 6-4, college programs from across the country would fall all over themselves to recruit him. Instead, he stands 5-8 and is fighting for a scholarship offer from NAIA teams.
That hasn’t stopped Storer from rewriting the school’s record books and dicing opponents weekly. He enters his third season as a starter fresh off earning first-team 4A All-Idaho honors. He’s completed 67 percent of his career passes for 6,970 yards and 85 TDs (both school records) with 19 interceptions.
“He puts up huge numbers every year,” Benedick said. “... His experience will give their whole team confidence.”
Nick Romano, RB, Rocky Mountain
The senior primarily served as the dive back in Rocky Mountain’s option attack last season, piling up 701 yards and nine TDs at 7.6 yards per carry. But with the Grizzlies moving to a single-back system, expect the explosive runner to start getting the ball a lot more regularly — and to do a lot more damage.
“He is a strong kid who runs hard,” Smart said. “... Nick offers them a tough-nosed kid who just wants to get north and does it fearlessly.”
Tyler Crowe, RB/LB, Skyview
A three-year starter at linebacker, he’ll serve as the Hawks’ sideline-to-sideline eraser after earning first-team 4A All-Idaho honors last season. But he’s also a weapon on offense, adding 1,278 total yards and 18 TDs out of the backfield in 2017.
“This kid is incredibly strong and is a stud on both sides of the ball for the Hawks,” Timberline coach Ian Smart said. “He will be the guiding force for them.”
Ryan Hibbs, QB, Capital
Hibbs guided Capital to the state quarterfinals a year ago, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 18 TDs and six interceptions. The 6-3 senior returns a year wiser, a year more athletic and a year more confident.
He also owns a grayshirt offer from Idaho.
“He knows the Capital offense inside and out,” Benedick said. “He is a great field general.”
Luke Masters, OL, Eagle
The 6-3, 260-pound senior moved to Eagle last summer and immediately earned a starting spot at left tackle and respect around the state, taking home first-team All-Idaho honors. The Mustangs will rely on him again as the only returning starter on its offensive line.
“The young guys get to watch him and how he goes about his business, and he sets a great example,” Eagle coach Paul Peterson said. “He has a pulls up your work socks, blue collar kind of mentality.”