West Side High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Tyson Moser
Years as Head Coach: 7th Season
Previous Experience: 10 years as Assistant Coach at West Side
Record Last Year: 12-0
State Titles: 1980, 1983, 2004, 2010, 2014
Peyton Brown, QB, Senior
Josh King, TE/DE, Senior
Tyler Meek, OL/DL, Senior
Kade Howell, OL/LB, Senior
Judd Ward, OL/DE, Senior
Marcus Turnbow, RB, Senior
Returning Players with Honors:
Peyton Brown, QB, 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All-Valley, 1st Team All-Area
Josh King, TE/DE, 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-State
Tyler Meek, OL/DL, 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-Valley
Photo By: Willy Harris - #14 Peyton Brown
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Wyatt Beckstead, RB, 1st Team All-State
Neils Stegelmeier, OL/DL, 2A All-Idaho Player of the Year
Mason Gittins, OL/DL, 1st Team All-State
Wyatt Bowles, DB, 1st Team All-State
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
Flashback to November 23rd, 2013.
West Side, then with a 10-1 record, was looking to upset the defending 2A state champion Declo Hornets in the title game at Holt Arena. In a back-and-forth defensive battle, eventually the dam broke and the Pirates dreams of a state championship were dashed in a 21-15 loss. Although they were certainly worthy of such a lofty title, the climb up the mountain stalled and failed near its peak.
In 2014, the Pirates wanted to make sure that the words ‘stall’ and ‘fail’ weren’t part of the vernacular in describing their season. It was a long road, but West Side prevailed while running the table en route to a perfect 12-0 record and their fifth state championship in school history.
This year, many of the key figures in the cast of 2014 have moved on. But that shouldn’t slow down the West Side powerhouse. They expect to be in the mix once again this season.
“We lost 16 seniors that won more games in four years than any other group ever has at West Side,” said Tyson Moser, now in his 7th season at the helm of the program. “We have a lot of holes to fill. But I’m excited about this group of kids. They work hard and will improve every week.”
West Side loses numerous 1st Team All-State players, including defensive back Wyatt Bowles, running back Wyatt Beckstead, lineman Mason Gittins, and lineman Neils Stegelmeier, the 2A All-Idaho Player of the Year.
That’s not to say that the cupboard is bare for the defending champs. The Pirates bring back 1st Team All-Idaho quarterback Peyton Brown and 1st Team All-Idaho defensive lineman Josh King along with a host of All-Conference honorees.
On the offensive side of the ball, if you’ve ever watched West Side, you know they love to run, run, and run some more. However, last season they opened up the playbook and allowed Brown to air it out. What resulted was 1,437 yards and 18 touchdowns on 82-of-182 passes, all school records.
That move made by the coaching staff sent a message to all-comers that they couldn’t just focus on the Pirates rushing attack anymore – opposing defenses were going to have to defend the entire field.
“Our passing game improved a lot last year,” Moser said. “But it needs to continue to improve.”
The Pirates aren’t trying to change the way they play the game – they just want to add more weapons to their arsenal.
“We’re still a run first team,” said Moser. “We’ve rushed for 3,000 yards each of the last four years.”
Incoming senior Marcus Turnbow, who saw time in the backfield last season, is the most seasoned running back on the squad and will be expected to lead the rushing attack. He’ll be running behind an offensive line anchored by seniors Tyler Meek, Kade Howell, and Judd Ward. Moser hopes the line comes together and gels quickly.
“We’ve got to rebuild our offensive line,” he said. “There are a lot of holes to fill.”
As it is with any small school playing 11-man football, injuries can derail a season and prevent teams from accomplishing goals. Moser mentioned staying healthy as an absolute key to success this season.
Defensively, the Pirates have built their mantra as a run-stopping force that doesn’t give up the big play and can keep opponents’ point totals low. Last season, the Pirates allowed 20 or more points only three times in their 12 total games, including six games where their opponents scored 8 points or less with one shutout.
Returning to anchor the West Side defense this year is senior 1st Team All-Idaho defensive end Josh King, who also plays tight end. King racked up 61 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and had eight sacks to go with it. Joining him on the line are fellow seniors Tyler Meek and Judd Ward. Kade Howell will roam the middle of the defense from the linebacker position.
Indeed, the West Side Pirates look to continue their string of dominance in Idaho football. But don’t be surprised if they start slowly this year.
In the years that I’ve been able to interview Moser for previews much like this one, the consistent theme I’ve come across about West Side football is “It’s not about how you start. It’s about how you finish.”
Moser has emphasized to me more than once that the Pirates traditionally start slow, but build steam as the season progresses and try to hit full stride once the conference schedule comes around.
If you look at their record over the past few years, you may find his statement hard to believe. West Side has lost a total of eight games in the last five seasons. During that time, they’ve won two state titles, advanced to a state championship, and made it to the state semifinals twice.
Excellence is not a choice at West Side. It’s an expectation.