High School Football

4A Southern Idaho Conference adds three teams, loses Kuna

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Nick Fox, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior, averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a running back last season. He switches to wide receiver this year.
Nick Fox, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior, averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a running back last season. He switches to wide receiver this year. doswald@idahostatesman.com

BISHOP KELLY CHASING HISTORY

Bishop Kelly enters the year as the only back-to-back-to-back state champion in 5A or 4A state history. And only two teams have won more than three straight titles — Mackay, six in a row at the 1A 11-man level, and Snake River, five in a row at 3A.

But the Knights quickly point out last season doesn’t mean anything, and they’re not looking ahead.

“We’re out here with a new team looking for our motto,” senior fullback/linebacker Ben Hruby said. “We’re not going off these last teams. We’ve learned from them, but it’s our turn to make our team who we are.”

LEAGUE ADDS THREE TEAMS, LOSES KUNA

The state reshuffles schools every two years based on their enrollment, and the latest round saw Emmett, Vallivue and Ridgevue added to the 4A SIC, while Kuna moved up to 5A.

Vallivue returns after moving up to 5A in 2006. The Falcons went 46-49 at the 5A level and reached the playoffs three times, never advancing past the first round. Continued growth in the school district forced the opening of Ridgevue, which splits the district into two 4A programs.

Emmett rejoins after two years in 3A. It went 16-11 overall and 14-10 against the league in its last three years in the 4A SIC.

FOUR PLAYOFF BERTHS UP FOR GRABS

By growing to eight teams, the 4A SIC is guaranteed four postseason berths in the classification’s 12-team playoffs.

The league champ earns a bye into the quarterfinals and the right to host quarterfinal and semifinal games.

The second- and third-place finishers host first-round playoff games, while the fourth-place team hits the road.

The SIC sent its top four teams to the playoffs the past two years, but the fourth team needed to earn an at-large berth. The at-large berth no longer exists in the 4A playoffs.

GAMES TO WATCH

SEPT. 9: VALLIVUE AT SKYVIEW, 7 P.M.

After spending the past 10 seasons in the 5A classification, Vallivue makes its return to the 4A level, where it won a state championship in 1999.

Skyview provides a litmus test regarding Vallivue’s potential this season, as the Hawks are a perennial conference contender and were picked to finish one spot ahead of the Falcons in fourth in a preseason coaches’ poll. These teams last played in 2009, with Vallivue winning 43-12.

SEPT. 23: EMMETT AT BISHOP KELLY, 7 P.M.

It’s not often two reigning state champions have the chance to play each other, let alone in a game with postseason consequences.

With Emmett moving back to the 4A classification after two seasons — and a 2015 state title — at the 3A level, the Huskies take aim at three-time defending 4A state champion Bishop Kelly.

BK and Emmett were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in a 4A SIC preseason coaches’ poll.

SEPT. 30: BISHOP KELLY AT MIDDLETON, 7 P.M.

Middleton lost to Bishop Kelly twice last season, including a 28-21 defeat in the state quarterfinals after the Vikings led 14-7 at halftime.

The Vikings have lost four games in a row to the Knights, registering their last win in 2012.

With 17-of-22 starters back from last season, Middleton would happily play the role of giant slayer and reset the balance of power in the conference.

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