Kuna High School
Conference: 4A Southern Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Ian Smart
Years as Head Coach: 2nd season
Previous Experience: Two seasons as assistant coach at Bishop Kelly. One season as assistant coach at Kuna.
Record Last Year: 6-4
State Titles: 1991
Jake Johnson (Sr, WR, DB)
Ben Ruwe (Sr, QB)
Kyler Ray (Sr, LB/TE)
Daison Weedop (Sr, OL)
Ryan Milburn (Sr, LB)
David Valdez (Sr, DL)
Christan Valdez (Sr, DL)
Matt McLean (Sr, WR/DB)
Taylor O’Neil (Sr, WR/DB)
Doug Presler (Sr, DB)
Chase Spangler (Jr, OL)
Returning Players with Honors:
Jake Johnson (First-Team All-State)
BenRuwe (2nd Team All-Conference)
Daison Weedop (2nd-Team All-Conference
Photo By: Loren Orr - #4 Jake Johnson
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Hunter Shull (DL)
Mikhail Kidd (WR/DB)
Gavin Patterson (WR)
Jamison Tobert (LB/WR)
Incoming “impact” players:
Duston Taylor (Jr, RB/LB)
Josh Rumsey (Jr, RB)
Written by: Will Hoenike (@willhoenike)
Bishop Kelly and Skyview. Skyview and Bishop Kelly.
For the past few seasons, the rest of the 4A Southern Idaho Conference has had to deal with those two teams in their bids to reach the state playoffs. With three spots up for grabs, the Knights and Hawks have grabbed two of those spots each of the past five seasons.
Compounding things, unless you’re one of these schools – Middleton has grabbed the third in four of those five seasons. Fourteen of the last 15 SIC schools to reach the final eight in the 4A classification have been Bishop Kelly, Skyview or Middleton.
That has made things rough on the rest of the conference. Consider: Kuna went 6-3 in the regular season last year, winning its first five games… and wasn’t one of the top three seeds. The Kavemen did qualify for the play-in round against Rigby, but was defeated on the road to end its season.
The challenge for second-year head coach Ian Smart is to crack that grip those other teams have on playoff berths.
His team has a good start with one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the district (if not beyond) in Ben Ruwe and Jake Johnson. Ruwe received second-team All-SIC honors as a junior while Johnson – a beast at 6-foot-6 – was first-team All-State with twelve touchdown catches in just ten games. Ruwe lost complimentary wideout Gavin Patterson and all-around contributor Jamison Tolbert, but Smart will look to seniors Matt McLean and Taylor O’Neil to help fill the void.
The team returns two starters along the offensive front in second-team All-SIC lineman Daison Weedop and junior Chase Spangler. Those two will anchor a front charged with not only protecting Ruwe, but also opening holes for junior running backs Duston Taylor and Josh Rumsey.
“I am hoping, with a change of offense, we can open some things up,” Smart said. “And give ourselves a chance to compete game-in and game-out.”
Smart and his staff also have key returners back on the defensive side of the ball as well, led by senior defensive linemen David Valdez and Christian Valdez. Also back defensively, the Kavemen have senior linebackers Kyler Ray and Ryan Milburn along with defensive backs McLean, O’Neil and Doug Presler. Johnson, the All-State wideout, also sees time as a safety on defense.
“We have a competitive group of kids,” Smart said of his defensive returners. “We will be looking to let them use their athleticism to make plays.
The Kavemen will open the 2015 season with the exact same five opponents it faced in 2014, winning all five by a composite score of 188-76. The start is unlikely to matter if the end isn’t stronger than 2014, especially with Kuna playing conference heavyweights Skyview (Oct. 2), Bishop Kelly (Oct. 9) and Middleton (Oct. 23) in three of its final four games.