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  Idaho 8-Man Classic To Return In 2019

The field of teams has been expanded from four to six to accommodate interest from throughout the state.

By: Sven Alskog
Published: 3/25/2019 12:06:34 PM

After a successful first year, the Idaho 8-Man Classic will be returning to Middleton High School on Saturday, September 7. 

In the games last season Valley defeated Prairie 60-46 and Raft River won 74-20 over Genesee, as small school football fans from throughout the state were able to get an early look at three 1AD1 playoff teams including the eventual state champion and two of the four semifinalists. 

After following a doubleheader format a year ago, the event has expanded to become a tripleheader with the action getting underway at 11 a.m. MT when defending champion Valley takes on Genesee. The day continues at 2 p.m. MT with Prairie against Raft River and concludes at 5 p.m. MT with Oakley matching up with Idaho City. 

“The idea for the games came about from Randy Spaeth (Raft River), Brian Hardy (Valley) and I brainstorming a way to get games with each other, so I contacted Middleton and they were great to work with. After talking with them it happened and like I said it was a big success,” said Prairie High School athletic director Travis Mader. 

The support of Middleton athletic director Andy Ankeny has been instrumental in making the event possible. 

Year one went so well that additional programs wanted to get involved.

“I had numerous 8-man schools call and see if they could be a part of it this year, so we expanded it to three games. It's a great opportunity for schools to play against teams that they may play at the state playoffs. I heard nothing but positive things from all the schools that were involved,” added Mader.

Just like last season there will be no shortage of storylines heading into the action, with all six schools breaking in new quarterbacks, a first year head coach on the sideline for Oakley and multiple teams that are expected to be ranked in the preseason polls taking the field. 

For programs with a winning pedigree, the challenge of a tough opponent right out of the chutes is an exciting one, especially with the gauntlet ahead in conference or league play. 

“There are for sure no giveaway games in our conference,” said Raft River head coach Chad Evans. “You have to compete at the highest level week in and week out. Having the opportunity early on to play a high-caliber opponent like Prairie lets the kids know right away how important it is to be on top of our game every week no matter who the opponent is. With the caliber of teams in Idaho 8-man football, any one game could make or break you for the playoffs.” 

After making a playoff appearance last season and finishing with a 6-3 record in year one under Evans, the Trojans will be replacing key components on both sides of the ball including Keegan Chatburn, Rylee Spencer, Cutler Erickson and Garrett Hutchison. A strong nucleus of young talent is expected to step up though and keep the program right in the mix in the 1AD1 Snake River Conference. 

Further north, Genesee won its final two games of the season after starting out on a seven-game losing streak and hopes to build on the improvement of the young players who saw major playing time as they step into even larger roles this time around.

Last season the Bulldogs ran into the buzzsaw that was Raft River in their week two loss in the 8-Man Classic, with the program now looking to get back on a path towards similar success to what was accomplished in 2017 when the program earned a state runner-up finish. 

“If you are a seasoned team that could go deep into the playoffs then yes, a tough non-league game or two would be very well worth the time. However, if you are young and needing to get some kids accustomed to varsity football, maybe a more equally matched opponent would be better. Our conference has some very good coaches, very physical players and playing tough non-league opponents if you are tough is incredibly important,” said Genesee head coach Tim Sperber. 

With players like Edward Becker (Idaho), Reggie Tilleman (Montana), Cole Allen (Idaho walk-on in 2018) and many others having come through the Genesee program recently, expect Sperber and his staff to get the most out of the talent on the roster. will once again provide live and free video broadcasts of all three games of the 2019 Idaho 8-Man Classic. Stay tuned over the summer as we announce more of our broadcast schedule for the year. 


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