Shelley High School
Conference: 3A Mountain Rivers Conference
Head Coach: Jake Monahan
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 5 years at Teton, 6 years at Shelley
Record Last Year: 7-4
State Titles: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013
Returning Players with Honors:
Colt Johnson & Peyton Littlewood (1st Team All-Conference)
Photo By: Willy Harris - #15 Bryon Leckington
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Tyler Bean, RB/DE (athleticism)
Jason Hathaway RB/DB (utility player)
Cole Harker OL/LB (toughness)
Bracken Nelson WR/DB (intelligence)
Incoming “impact” players:
Brennon Wattenbarger WR/DB Junior
Angel Herrera RB/DB Junior
Will Durbin OL/LB Junior
Shad Foster OL/DL Junior
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
New Leader. Same Shelley Russets.
First-year head coach Jake Monahan’s plan to keep the transition from outgoing head coach Travis Hobson to him smooth is to continue to do the things that has made Shelley successful in the first place.
“We want to get back to our roots. We want to be physical and aggressive,” Monahan said.
That return to the Russets roots includes a return to more plays on offense out of the Wing-T formation and simplifying the playbook.
“We aren’t an overly “big” team, so we need to use our speed to compensate,” said Monahan, who served as the Russets offensive coordinator last season.
Even though size may not favor the Russets in every matchup this year, the first-year head coach pointed to his offensive line, running backs, and quarterback as strengths in the Shelley offense.
All-Conference First Team selections Colt Johnson and Peyton Littlewood (both of whom are seniors) will anchor the Russets offensive line in 2015 along with juniors Will Durbin and Shad Foster, whom Monahan expects to have a big impact.
Behind the line will be returning seniors Rollin Sutherin and Johnny Carranza, who both played key roles on offense last season. Directing the offense will be junior Bryon Leckington, who takes over the full-time starting job this year after splitting time in 2014 with the now-graduated Tyler Fredrickson.
With many returning starters, Monahan hopes the offense improves in three different facets.
“We’ve got to be better in the run game, more quick and aggressive, and we must be better on first down,” he said.
The Russets averaged 24.8 points per game last year, a number Monahan would certainly like to increase. When it comes to the defense, however, Monahan is looking for one thing: consistency.
“Our defense has been a huge strength for years,” he said. “We are just hoping to maintain continued consistency.”
Monahan’s crew of linebackers and defensive ends should wreak havoc in opposing backfields this year. The new lead man mentioned returning starters Kirklin Nelson and Jason Burton as two anchors for the Russets’ defense.
“Quick, athletic, and aggressive,” he said.
Even though Shelley is no longer the reigning 3A state champions, that doesn’t mean the target is necessarily off their collective backs. They know that everyone is always going to give their maximum effort against the six-time state champions.
Monahan said that the intensity will especially be ramped up in two non-conference games this year: at home vs. Snake River on Sept. 4 and at Gooding on Sept. 25.
The Russets’ quest for a State Championship “3-Peat” was kept alive with an epic quarterfinal matchup against Gooding at Holt Arena last November. That game has only fueled the budding-rivalry between the Russets and the Senators.
Fortunately for the fans, we’ll see that rivalry during the regular season at least through next year.
Shelley’s quest for the 3-Peat was then dashed a week later as their arch-rivals, the Snake River Panthers, knocked the Russets out of the state semi-finals with a 28-14 victory. It was the second time that Snake River had defeated Shelley last year, including a 19-0 shutout in Moreland on Oct. 3. With the Russets looking to regroup this year, look for this game to be an early measuring stick in their progress.
Monahan knows the task ahead of him a big one, especially in a football-hotbed like Shelley. With such a deep history of success, he knows he has the tools and the support to continue that tradition.
“We have a very supportive community. They have high expectations for us. The parents want their student-athletes to be successful in all facets of life,” Monahan said.
He added that being an active part of his players’ lives is why he loves coaching high school football.
“I love teaching young men… they keep me young,” he said.
The Russets open the 2015 football season at Holt Arena, or the ‘Dome Away From Home’, in the Rocky Mountain Rumble against Tooele, Utah. This game will be broadcast LIVE on IdahoSports.com.