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1ADI State Championship Preview
A pair of conference rivals go head to head in an eight-man state title matchup
Published: 11/19/2020 3:54:36 PM
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

The year was 2016. 

The Oakley Hornets, after surviving an overtime thriller against Glenns Ferry, were one game away from their third title. But the Hornets weren’t prepared for a Raft River onslaught on both sides of the ball.

The Trojans promptly booted the Hornets out of title contention, winning 46-18, good enough for a fifth state championship. Fast forward two years and the Hornets come within an excruciating two points from a championship. The Valley Vikings downed Oakley 42-40, keeping the Hornets titless for the ninth straight year. 

The Hornets have kept it close since that 2016 championship loss. Prairie has been the one team who’s kept the Hornets out of the title game, defeating Oakley in 2017 and 2019. 

-CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE 1ADI STATE CHAMPIONSHIP LIVE

Oakley evened the score last Friday, pulling a semifinal win out of thin air inside the University of Idaho Kibbie Dome. Dace Jones took a fourth-quarter kickoff to the house, giving Oakley the final lead of the game. The Pirates threatened, with the offense driving down to the goal line, burning eight minutes in the process. Oakley forced a fumble as Prairie pounded at the line of scrimmage. The Hornets recovered, nailing shut the door to a second straight championship appearance for Prairie. 

Isaac Mitton has been the man all year for the Hornets, putting forth a microcosm of offensive output behind 290 yards throwing and another 99 rushing. 

Mitton and Oakley’s second-ranked offense at the 1ADI level enter a tricky matchup Championship Saturday. Raft River, 9-1 on the year, has the classification’s second-best defense, and no one knows that better than the Hornets. 

Oakley and Raft River, the top two squads in the 1ADI Snake River Conference, have already squared off twice this season. Oakley came out on top back in August for the season opener, winning 22-8. But the Trojans got their revenge to bookend the year, winning 40-38. 

As for 2020’s conference tiebreaker? It’s anyone’s game, and this time it’s for all the marbles. 

“Both sides are going to make plays on Saturday, we just have to try to limit the big plays and move on to the next one when they do happen,” said Raft River Head Coach Chad Evans. 

Bodee Spencer is the Trojan’s big-play specialist. Raft River’s QB has 945 passing yards and 770 rushing yards on the season, scoring a combined 22 times this year. Spencer also fills in on the defense, notching 22 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. 

Running is Raft River’s specialty. Ethan Bernad and Thaine Loughmiller have combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. Bernad owns 18 of the scores. 

“We need to be able to do what we do best and control the line of scrimmage, which will allow us to set the tone with our run game,” Evans said. “We need to limit mental mistakes and clean up the penalties.”

On the defense, Kagen “Milkshake” Knudsen has been busy shaking up opposing offenses, leading the Trojan charge with 44 tackles. Knudson and the rest of the Raft River defense will be looking to the sidelines. Oakley favors the short passing game, with getting playmakers in space even easier with only 16 players on the field. 

“To be successful on defense we have to stop their passing and screen plays, we need to be ready for anything they draw up and have short memories when they make big plays,” Evans said.

Saturday’s 1ADI state championship kicks off 4 p.m. (MST) at Twin Falls High School. IdahoSports.com will live audio broadcast the game. Click here to listen. 

 


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