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  2019 State Football Championship Recap

From double-overtime to goal line fumbles, championship weekend was packed with can't-miss action

By: Brandon Hill
Published: 11/24/2019 12:12:28 PM
 
5A State ChampionshipRigby 57, Coeur d'Alene 56 2OT

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In the heat of the moment, with adrenaline pumping through his body, Rigby running back Brigham Youngstrom had no idea he’d just won his team a title. 

“Once everyone started jumping on me, I thought, ‘Oh, I guess we just won the state championship,’” Youngstrom said. 

The miraculous double-overtime touchdown, followed by a gutsy two-point conversion called by Trojan Head Coach Armando Gonzalez, capped off a thrilling come-from-behind win for Idaho’s newest 5A champions. 

Coeur d’Alene started the game in perfect form, forcing a three-and-out by the Trojans on their opening drive and then immediately finding the end zone on an 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Prka to receiver Colbey Nosworthy. 

Rigby and its slow-moving, read-option offense seemed incapable of finding a rhythm for much of the first half, as drives stalled at midfield after taking valuable time off the clock. But down 21-13 at halftime, Gonzalez gave an honest truth to his squad.

“He told us, 'You guys look flat out there,'” Youngstrom said. “It looks like you’re just going to lose. It was in our body language.”

And once the third quarter began, an entirely different Trojan team took the field. 

Quarterback Keegan Thompson connected with receiver Christian Fredrickson time and time again down the sideline. Thompson hit Fredrickson for three second half touchdowns, one from 16 yards out early in the third quarter, another from 30 yards out and for the last in one of the biggest plays in Rigby Trojan history. 

Down a score, driving to the red zone with no timeouts, the Trojan offense had its back against the wall with just four seconds remaining on the clock and 20 yards to go. Thompson dropped back and threw a prayer up to his star receiver. Fredrickson, someway, somehow, came down with the ball despite tight coverage by the CdA defense. 

“He is my favorite guy in the world,” Thompson said. “Since sixth grade, me and him have been doing that. I’ve been throwing it up, and he’s been catching my crap. He’s an absolute stud, I love him so much.”

But Rigby’s work was far from over. After another Thompson-to-Fredrickson touchdown, Prka showcased why he’s considered one of the best passers in the state, throwing a dart in the game’s first overtime to tight end Cameron Cope.

In double-overtime, the Vikings took the field first, and in no time Prka was back in the end zone, keeping it himself from 4 yards out.

That’s when Gonzalez decided to get creative. 

Defensive end Tanoa Togiai entered the game on the right side of the offensive line. Rigby’s most talented big man paved the way for Youngstorm to fight his way into the end zone and put the Trojans in position to either tie or win the game. 

Gonzalez opted for the latter, sending his team back out onto the field for the last play of the 5A football season. And with Togiai again lined up on the right, Gonzalez sent Youngstrom left.

The decoy worked to perfection, as a Youngstrom kept his legs churning and dragged Viking defenders with him into the end zone. 

“We knew we couldn’t stop them at that point,” Gonzalez said. “All year, we’ve been the most physically dominant team on the field. There was no other way to end it. If we were going to be stopped there, it meant we weren’t good enough.”

4A State Championship: Kuna 49, Blackfoot 35

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The electric Kavemen offense saved its best performance for last, as Kuna secured a perfect 13-0 season and a state championship for the first time in almost 30 years. 

Behind Head Coach Sherman Blaser, Kuna racked up 515 yards of total offense, overcoming a 13-0 first quarter deficit.

Junior quarterback Sean Austin continued his impressive postseason campaign with 21 completions for 326 yards and three scores. And once again, Austin finished a 2019 playoff game without committing a turnover. 

On defense, the Kavemen sputtered early, allowing Blackfoot running back Reece Robinson to score from 76 yards out on the Broncos’ opening drive. Robinson struck again in the first quarter on a 36-yard touchdown reception, putting Blackfoot up two possessions before most of the Kavemen could even blink.

The momentum didn’t last long, however, as Kuna would go on to score seven touchdowns in the game, finding the end zone four times in just the second quarter. Running back Jonathan Edwards iced the game on the ground, gaining 131 yard on 25 carries, including Kuna’s final three touchdowns. 

The championship marks Kuna’s last at the 4A level, with the Kavemen headed up to join the 5A Southern Idaho Conference next season.  

3A State Championship: Sugar-Salem 48, Homedale 14

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Twice this championship weekend, teams took the field against an opponent that defeated them in last year’s title game. But just once, those seeking revenge came up short. 

The Homedale Trojans fell once again at the hands of the Sugar-Salem Diggers in a much more lopsided affair compared to last year’s championship, in which the Trojans came just a yard short of glory,.

Sugar-Salem put up 304 yards of ground-and-pound attack, scoring 41 unanswered points, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. The Digger defense picked off Homedale quarterback Daniel Uranga three times in his last chance to bring home a championship.

Sugar-Salem’s Sam Parkinson ran for two touchdowns while also pulling his weight on defense with one of the Diggers’ two pick-6s.  

The Trojans managed to keep it close in the first quarter, with Homedale getting on the board first on a 1-yard Uranga run. But the Digger secondary turned the tides, when Browning Bennion picked off Uranga for the first time that afternoon. 

 

2A State Championship: West Side 14, McCall-Donnelly, 13

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2019 was McCall-Donnelly’s turn to come just a yard shy of a state title.

With a little more than a minute left on the clock, Vandal Head Coach Lee Leslie dialed up a daring two-point conversion to potentially put his team in the lead against the West Side Pirates.

The gadget play, a reverse pass by receiver Noah Ormsby, failed to fool the Pirate defenders, who sniffed the call out from the start and prevented Ormsby from finding an open man.

One recovered onside kick later, and West Side began celebrating in the chilly November air at Eagle High School.

The Pirates finished the game with 261 yards of offense in a game largely dominated by defense. Running back Jaxon Moser gained 108 yards on 14 carries, scoring one of West Side’s two touchdowns from 34 yards out. Vandal quarterback Peter Knudson, normally known for his dual threat attack, was bottled up by a stout Pirate defense, rushing for just 50 yards and throwing for 52. 

The Pirates earned their first state championship in five years and sixth in school history against a McCall-Donnelly team on the pursuit of a perfect season.

 

1ADI State Championship: Prairie 26, Lost Rivers 6

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Something had to give.

Both Lost Rivers and Prairie entered the first state championship game of the weekend with eye-popping point differentials. In short, both teams could score quickly and often, helped by defenses that rarely ever played backed up against their own end zone. 

But by the end of Friday night, the dynamic offense of Prairie, led by quarterback Cole Schlader, proved too much in Lost Rivers’ biggest test of the season. 

From the onset, the slow pace of Lost Rivers’ run-first offense failed to match the intensity of Prairie, as running back Cole Martin took advantage of wide running lanes, scoring three touchdowns and gaining 127 yards. 

“He’s the only reason the passing game works, honestly,” Schlader said of his reliable running back. “If he didn’t get rushing yards, our passing game just wouldn’t work. We’re a run-first team, and I’ll be glad to have him next year.”

Because of Martin’s tough running attack, Schlader said he was able to take advantage of the Lost Rivers cornerbacks cheating up, expecting another run to the outside. That’s when Schlader looked deep, finding receivers like Derik Shears, who finished with 96 of Schlader's 115 yards.  

On the opposing sideline, Lost Rivers looked on with somber expressions, as many players realized their time in the black uniforms would soon come to an end. 

“Football. It happens,” said defensive back Jacoda Whitworth.  “This was one hell of a season, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if these guys hadn't taken me in. They’re all my family now.”

Whitworth, a Mackay student, was one of the few players who, had it not been for the preseason co-op formed between Mackay and Butte County, would not have had a chance to take the field in 2019. Whitworth, who will graduate this spring, said having Butte County welcome him and his fellow teammates with open arms meant the world to him. 

Lost Rivers will hope to take the field as a co-op in 1ADI play next season. Should the Idaho High School Activities Association rule otherwise, the Pirates will be forced to split, with Butte County competing in 2A. For Mackay? Only time will tell for the few remaining players.

But for the town of Cottonwood and the Prairie Pirates, Friday night was for celebration. 

“The players probably had more confidence in themselves than even we coaches,” said Prairie Head Coach Ryan Hasselstrom. “Our fans travel well. They love us, support us 100% and they’re going to rally behind us tonight in Cottonwood. It’s going to be a parade like nobody’s ever seen.”


1ADII State Championship: Lighthouse Christian 34, Carey 28 OT

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It nearly didn’t happen, but the Lighthouse Christian Lions earned their sweet revenge over Carey, redeeming a 2018 state championship loss against the Panthers. 

The Panthers had relied on one man all season to carry them to glory: running back Carson Simpson. And with the game on the line in overtime, Carey once again called upon its star player to win the game. 

In three plays, the Lion defense stepped up, stuffing Simpson short of the goal line and forcing Carey into one last fourth-and-goal. Simpson again got the handoff and pushed into the scrum. 

And in a do-or-die moment, the Lion defense forced a fumble, recovering the loose ball in the end zone. 

After the defensive miracle, the game rested in the hands of quarterback Collin Holloway. And from 4 yards out, Holloway found receiver Clay Silva in the end zone, sealing the game.

The moment marked the end of a 14-0 comeback effort by the Lions, who fell behind early thanks to an early offensive onslaught by Simpson and the Carey offense. 

But Holloway got his team right back in the thick of it, throwing a pair of 69-yard and 1-yard touchdowns to tie the game at 14. 

A Carey touchdown right before halftime would mark the last time the Panthers would score, as Lighthouse held strong in the second half, bottling up Simpson for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, a Holloway-to-Silva 51-yard touchdown breathed life into the Lions down the stretch, who were able to tie things up before the end of regulation. 

Holloway finished with 280 yards, with Silva hauling in 11 balls for 183 yards, capping off a perfect 11-0 season for the Lions.

 

 



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