The 5A Southern Idaho Conference often takes up the headlines. But the conference’s 4A division perennially produces some of the best talent in the state, including a pair of Division I signees last season.
The league continues that tradition in 2018 with a junior committed to a Power 5 conference team. And college scouts will continue to scour the conference this fall, looking for more talent.
Below are some of the top players to watch this year in the 4A SIC.
Gaard Memmelaar, OL, Middleton
Heading into his junior season, the 6-5, 290-pound left tackle has committed to a Division I scholarship as the first known member of Washington’s 2020 recruiting class.
Memmelaar played every snap last fall and didn’t allow a sack in more than 300 pass attempts. He then took home the offensive and defensive line MVP award at Washington’s summer camp, morphing from an under-the-radar prospect to three-star recruit headed to one of the country’s top programs.
“He’s one of those guys that you can’t prepare for,” Caldwell coach Zac Farnam said. “(He’s) big, physical and smart. Unless you have D-I lineman to match him, you have to be careful who he matches up against.”
Lan Larison, QB/DB, Vallivue
Long a powerhouse on the ground, Vallivue opened up its playbook for Larison, who started every game as a freshman and hasn’t left the field since.
The junior is an explosive two-way threat, capable of beating opponents deep or with his feet. But he’s most dangerous when a play breaks down and he can create.
He threw for 1,116 yards, 10 TDs and three interceptions, adding 494 yards and six TDs on the ground to earn second-team all-conference honors as a sophomore. He’s since picked up a scholarship offer from the College of Idaho.
“He has the ‘it’ factor and can create plays from nothing,” Farnam said.
Allamar Alexander, RB, Columbia
Columbia makes no secret where the ball is going. Alexander, a senior, led the 5A SIC with 230 carries last season, running for 1,422 yards (third) and 14 TDs (second).
The breakout season earned him a spot on the 5A SIC all-conference first team. His combination of toughness, breakaway speed and elusive moves puts him atop the game plan of every opposing defensive coordinator as the Wildcats move down to the 4A level.
“He is a dude!” Ridgevue coach Tom DeWitz said. “He runs physical but is a little shifty at the same time … One of the things I’ve noticed and like is he runs disciplined paths. He runs where the play is designed and gets the yards he is supposed to.”
Donavon Estrada, WR/DB, Nampa
At a slight 5-10, the junior won’t impress anyone stepping off the bus. But put the ball in his hands and he’s a highlight waiting to happen.
He ranked fifth in the 5A SIC as a sophomore with 55 catches for 601 yards and six TDs to nab a spot on the all-conference second team. He added another 423 yards on the ground, averaging 9.2 yards per touch no matter where he got the ball.
“He’s a great route runner who catches everything within a 5-yard window,” Columbia coach Jon Helmandollar said. “He really impressed me at 7-on-7 this summer.”
Michael Sondermann, RB/LB, Ridgevue
The 5-9, 200-pound senior carried the load for the Warhawks last season, accounting for 38 percent of the team’s offensive yards. He finished fifth in the league with 743 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring nine touchdowns.
Sondermann will see even more touches this season as the cornerstone of the offense, and he’ll shine on defense too where his strength and speed make him a standout.
“We are going to ask a lot of Mike this season,” DeWitz said.
Luke McLaughlin, DE, Bishop Kelly
Opposing quarterbacks better take notice of where the 6-1, 210-pound senior lines up. He plays 100 mph on every snap, allowing him to make plays all over the field. He finished tied for second in the conference with five sacks last season, and he was third on the Knights in tackles (4.9 per game), earning him an all-conference honorable mention spot.
With three other long, athletic and tenacious defensive ends in BK’s rotation, opponents can’t double McLaughlin, opening additional opportunities.
“(He’s) a big and physical football player that will be tough to block on the edge,” Helmandollar said.
Chase Burfeind, WR/DB, Caldwell
The 6-1 senior moved to quarterback as a freshman, taking over the starting role as a sophomore. The offense ran through him and his legs last season as he accounted for 60 percent of Caldwell’s total offensive yards as a junior.
But with Mexican exchange student Andres Bagne set to take over at quarterback, Burfeind can move back to his natural position at wide receiver, one Farnam believes he has a college future in.
“He’s just a tremendous athlete,” Middleton coach Bill Brock said. “He’s got a lot of things going on. He can throw it, run it and catch it.”
Dylan Bemis, QB, Emmett
Bemis started under center for Emmett last season. But in the Huskies’ power-run offense, he didn’t need to do much more than hand it off, completing 41 of 82 passes for 657 yards and seven TDs.
With incoming coach Rich Hargitt installing a new spread offense, Bemis will take center stage making run-pass-option reads all game. His passing and rushing numbers should explode.
“He has to be an extension of me on the field, and see and understand the game the same way I do,” Hargitt said. “We’ll be as good as he is. That’s no mystery. We’ve told him that from the get-go.”