Buhl High School
Conference: 3A Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference
Head Coach: Rick Wells
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: Ten years’ head coach at Oregon schools
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: 1978
Sr RB/DB Tegon Tonge
Jr RB/LB/K Jose Cervantes
Jr RB/LB Mark Poehler
Returning Players with Honors:
Tonge (1st-Team All-Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference RB
Jose Cervantes (1st-Team All-Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference K)
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Incoming “impact” players:
QB JP Elkin
Written by: Will Hoenike (@willhoenike)
Head Coach Rick Wells and his 2015 Buhl Indians have a motto for the upcoming season – “Ring the Bell.”
He and his staff will be relying on a lot of new faces to ring the bell this season for the Indians, coming off a 4-5 campaign that saw the team bounced in the opening round of 3A state playoff action by Shelley.
The team lost several key seniors, as most teams do in any given year, but the Indians are also expected to be without incoming seniors Kasey Crossland, Michael Lively and Morgan Montgomery due to injuries.
Though the three will remain with the program, not having the trio on the field will put added pressure on returning All-Conference running back Tegon Tonge and his offensive line to supply firepower for a team that averaged 25 points per game last season. The senior ballcarrier was also first-team All-Conference (and second-team All-State) on the basketball court.
A good running game will help protect new varsity starting quarterback JP Elkin. And Wells, rather than rely solely on Tonge, has three capable athletes that he can put in the backfield to carry the ball. Along with Tonge, the team has juniors Mark Poehler and Jose Cervantes as the Indians will look to lean on the running game early while the team’s passing game gains ground.
Cervantes, it should be noted, was recognized as the All-Conference kicker last season. A solid kicking game in the smaller divisions can give teams a vital advantage.
Defensively, the Indians appeared to run out of steam late in the season. After allowing 162 points and defeating two 4A foes in the first six games, Buhl allowed 173 points – an average of nearly 58 per game – over its final three contests. Improvement, especially in Sawtooth Central play, is vital.
“Win the turnover battle in those games,” Wells said of potential keys to the season. “Keep control of the clock against up-tempo teams.”
Cervantes and Poehler will be counted on to lead the team defensively from the linebacker spot while Tonge will also see time at defensive back.
Wells and his staff are excited by new players joining the program to fill the spots left by the former senior class. The excitement, however, is tempered by the reality that Buhl opens the season with back-to-back 4A opponents, followed by a home date against 2A power Declo, who lost just one time last season on the heels of back-to-back 2A state titles in 2012 and 2013.
The challenging schedule also features three straight road games to end the season: against 4A Wood River and Sawtooth Central rivals Kimberly and Gooding away from the friendly confines.
Buhl certainly won’t be a pushover, however, the Indians are going to need quick maturation from new faces. The team might be one year away but could be a darkhorse candidate to ring some bells in District IV.