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  Small School Games - Big Time Feel

Idaho's smallest classifications offer some of the highest-scoring football you're likely to find.

By: Sven Alskog
Published: 9/25/2018 1:38:50 PM
 
The view from the press box at Horseshoe Bend High School before a 2017 playoff game against Challis. 

As I looked at our schedule this week it became blatantly obvious that all of us here at IdahoSports.com really like some 8-man football. 

A quick glance at the slate of games featured on our broadcast schedule for September 28 would show four 1A matchups including Rimrock at Wilder, Salmon River at Horseshoe Bend, Butte County at Oakley and Dietrich at Lighthouse Christian. 

Each game has major playoff implications and we are looking forward to covering them. 

For those unfamiliar, Idaho has two classifications that play 8-man football in lieu of the more conventional 11-man variety. 1AD1 schools have between 100 and 159 students and 1AD2 schools have less than 99 total students in the school.

To put that into perspective, 5A schools like Highland have over 70 members on their football team alone, which would eclipse the entire student population at more than 16 of the schools in the 1AD2 classification that offer football. 

The school with the smallest student body that also plays 8-man football is Camas County, which has just 29 total students in the school according to the 2018 enrollment figures information on the Idaho High School Activities Association website. Despite the low numbers, the Mushers have started the 2018 season off 2-1 with wins over Hagerman and Hansen. 


A scenic look at the Camas County football field. 


Over the years we have broadcast from the vast majority of the 1A schools and have enjoyed getting to meet the people that make Small Town Idaho great.

These people are some of the best you’ll meet anywhere. 

Whether it be Charlie Shepherd building a permanent broadcast platform for our crew earlier this year, the food that Randy Spaeth at Raft River brings up before halftime when we are in Malta or Mike Torgerson at Dietrich taking our broadcaster Ryan Howe out to the Eagle's Nest Cafe after a game last season to get a taste of the best chicken fried steak in Idaho – and the biggest to boot – we get treated pretty well. 

Earlier this season we scheduled a game at Deary for the first time. We were excited to get out to see the new-look Mustangs take on the Lewis County Eagles. 

One of the biggest considerations we have each week is internet. 

Does the school have Wi-Fi or hardwire capabilities available? Does Verizon have 4G LTE service in the area? Is there another solution that would work? 

Those are some of the questions we ask ourselves prior to scheduling matchups. Having never broadcast from Deary before, we relied on the Verizon coverage map which said it would be strong enough to broadcast a game there. Unfortunately, that is not always a surefire answer, so in this case it was not strong enough. 

We were bailed out in this instance at Deary thanks to Mustangs head football coach Ryan Kirk, who let us use his AT&T hotspot to get the game on the air. For anyone that watched that game, make sure to reach out to Ryan and say thank you for making it happen. 

This is a recent example, but there have been many times over the years where similar efforts have made what we do possible for you to view. 

And boy, it sure seems like it happens the most at 1A locations. 

Press boxes are partially cleared to get us in despite tight spaces, personalized stat sheets are provided to give our broadcasters the information they need to put out a quality broadcast and fans even come up to shake our hand and thank us for doing what we do and tell us where they have friends or family watching from. 

The hospitality does not stop once we leave the football field though, as on countless occasions local restaurants have even stayed open beyond normal business hours just to allow our broadcasters the opportunity to get a taste of whatever town they are in that night. From Shy Simon’s Pizza in Council to the River Rock Café in Riggins, we’ve enjoyed meeting the people that help make these small towns great. 

As broadcasters, half the time we are looking forward to going to a town because of one of these restaurants. We really like the cheese curds from Pickles Place in Arco, proud supporters of the Butte County Pirates. When you see one of the Butte County games on the schedule down the road, you can probably find our broadcast crew out there for a pre or postgame meal. 


Cheese curds at Pickles Place in Arco. 


Beyond the food, we enjoy the interaction with coaches and fans face-to-face, through emails and over social media as well. 

During one of the recent episodes of the IdahoSports PrepCast presented by Project Filter I picked the Valley Vikings to win their game that week. Jokingly I said that in order to be like our broadcaster Will Hoenike, who has an Oakley Hornets shirt, that they should send me a Valley Vikings one. Much to my surprise their coaching staff was listening and as I write this I just received a Valley shirt in the mail. Just awesome. 

It’s hard to beat friendly people, high-scoring football, fantastic scenery and large portions of comfort food. 

For those who have never experienced an 8-man football game in the state of Idaho, I challenge you to get out to one of your local schools and check it out for yourself over the course of the next month or so. We have full schedules up on our site, so go see where area teams are playing and add a game or two to your calendar to experience something a little different.  

Who knows, you may see the next Leighton Vander Esch while you’re there.
 
 


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