Wood River High School
Conference: Great Basin (West) Conference
Head Coach: Kevin Stilling
Years as Head Coach: 7th Season
Previous Experience: 12 years assistant in Colorado and Illinois
Record Last Year: 6-4
State Titles: None
Alec Nordsieck (Sr)
Gunner Gibson (Sr)
Owen Gifford (Jr)
Ashton Owens (Jr)
Travis Swanson (Jr)
Cade Schott (Jr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Nordsieck, Gifford, Gibson, Heaphy and Toothman were all 1st-Team All Great Basin
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Incoming “impact” players:
TE/LB Jacob Bulotti; WR/DB Wyatt Johnson
Written by: Will Hoenike (@willhoenike)
Experience gained late in the 2014 season could prove invaluable for the 2015 Wood River Wolverines. As the runner-up in the 4A Great Basin Conference last season, the Wolverines hosted a first-round playoff game in Hailey against Skyview of the Southern Idaho Conference.
Skyview got the win, ending Wood River’s season, but the Wolverines team got to taste postseason football. At home, in front of its fans. And they did it with a lot of young players – at one point or another, head coach Kevin Stalling and his staff started 11 sophomores last season.
“We believe we have a handful of guys who are as good as a handful of guys on any team we play this year,” Stalling observed. “What could ultimately determine our success is how well the group outside those guys improve and perform.”
One player Stalling shouldn’t have to worry about is senior quarterback Alec Nordsieck. Nordsieck threw for almost 2,000 yards as a junior, including 24 touchdown tosses, and scrambled for another 500 more, showing a nice ability to extend plays with his feet.
“We relied on the passing game moreso last year than in any of my first five years as head coach,” Stalling said. “He (Nordsieck) is really the focal point of our offense.”
The Wolverines return two key targets in the passing game in senior tight end Gunner Gibson and junior wide receiver Owen Gifford. The duo combined to catch 18 of Nordsieck’s touchdown tosses. They’ll be joined by Cade Schott and newcomers Jacob Bulotti and Wyatt Johnson in the pass-catching corps this season.
Gifford, along with Ashton Owens and Travis Swanson, should see an increased load carrying the football out of the backfield, too. The team returns three offensive linemen (Brendan Bingham, Jens Blackman and DJ McMurdo) to open holes for the backs and protect the quarterback as the Wolverines return eight players who started at least eight games on offense last season, where the team averaged nearly 30 points per game.
Defensively, Stilling points out a good news/bad news situation with his front seven.
“Our linebackers are bigger than all but one of our projected defensive linemen,” he said.
But, rather than focus on the lack of size on the defensive front, he and his staff focus on the experience and physicality of the linebacking group that includes Gibson, Swanson and Jubal Toothman. The defensive line, though small, is headlined by returning All-Great Basin performer Hans Heaphy.
The secondary, which includes Nordsieck, Owens, Gifford and Chris Lentz, will get an early test with a week-one matchup against pass-happy conference rival Jerome on August 28.
It is part of a season-opening three-game homestand that includes two conference games (Jerome, Twin Falls), which could set the Wolverines up for a big season with early success.
So feel free to dream big, Wolverines, this could be a very nice season in the Wood River Valley.