Hillcrest High School
Conference: 5A District 5-6 Conference
Head Coach: Jeff Marshall
Years as Head Coach: 3rd Season
Previous Experience: 1 year at University of Montana-Western
7 years at Kingwood High School (Humble, TX)
18 years at Blackfoot High School
Record Last Year: 6-3
Conference Record Last Year: 3-2
State Titles: 2008
Randy Gleave – Defensive Coordinator
Joe Bainbridge – Offensive Line
Toby Gleave – Defensive Backs
CB Nelson – Linebackers
Cody Jackson – Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers
Noah Heimer, QB 3, 12
Trey Geyer, DB 5, 12
Bridger Blakeslee, QB/DB 7, 12
Kolten Westegard, WR 21, 12
Skyler Wright, WR 25, 12
Carter Johnson, LB 30, 12
Porter Empey, RB 33, 12
Kobe Cornelison, DB 40, 12
Teyano Tweedie, LB/RB 42, 12
Chris Spaulding, OL 60, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Bridger Blakeslee , All High Country Conference WR
Photo By: Brad Barlow - #7 Bridger Blakeslee
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Morgan Pyper, RB – 2014 High Country Conference Player of the Year, 2nd Team All-Idaho RB
Chance Hansen, OL/DL – Signed with Montana Tech.
Austin Nelson, OL – 2nd Team All-State OL
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
That word might not accurately describe the depth of how the Hillcrest Knights felt after falling in a 3-way ‘Kansas City’ playoff last season – one which determined the final two teams headed to the state tournament from the 5A District 5-6 Conference.
After rolling through six of their first seven games, the Knights lost their final two en route to a 6-3 record, including a 2-2 conference mark which tied them with Madison and Skyline in the league standings. It was the Bobcats and Grizzlies, however, that emerged from the frantic, exhilarating, abbreviated football contest on Oct. 27th in Rigby with their heads held high and their helmets raised in victory.
Head coach Jeff Marshall, now entering his third season at Hillcrest, lamented the Knights’ missed opportunities following the loss.
“There were so many ways we could’ve gotten to state, and we didn’t get any of them,” he said to the Post Register in October. “In life, you have to make your own luck and not count on other people.”
With the sting of that day fully in their remembrance, Marshall and the Knights move forward into 2015 – and with quite a different cast of players.
Hillcrest lost numerous players to graduation and bring back a total of eight starters overall on either side of the ball. Gone are the services of running back Morgan Pyper, the 2014 High Country Conference Player of the Year and 2nd Team All-Idaho running back. Also not returning is Montana Tech signee Chance Hansen and 2nd Team All-Idaho lineman Austin Nelson.
But the Knights do bring back several players with a lot of experience on the varsity squad. On offense, Bridger Blakeslee will take over under center and will be paired with running back Porter Empey, who looks to be the main focal point of the rushing attack. Receivers Skyler Wright and Kolten Westegard are also back for a roster that could see more passing in 2015.
“We want to have a more balanced attack this year,” Marshall said. “We are going to have much more depth at the receiver position going into the season.”
Hillcrest averaged 27.4 points per game last year in a run-heavy attack. Whether that number moves up or down will remain to be seen based on incoming personnel and the desire to throw the ball more.
Defensively, four starters return for the Knights including outside linebacker Teyano Tweedie and the trio of Blakeslee, Trey Geyer, and Kobe Cornelison in the secondary. The entire line will be rebuilt as all starters graduated. That being said, Marshall is hopeful of their progress and potential.
“We have pretty good team speed on not only offense, but defense as well,” he said. “We have play-makers at several positions and we need them to make big plays for us to have success this year.”
Hillcrest’s schedule is not the easiest either. The Knights open 2015 by hosting defending 4A state runner-up Blackfoot, followed by a road trip to upstart Wood River and a home date with the improving Rigby Trojans. A visit to Twin Falls High School in the Magic Valley rounds out the non-conference slate, which is followed by a trip to cross-town conference foe Idaho Falls. The Knights round out their schedule with three of their final four games at home. The Knights host Skyline, archrival Bonneville and Madison with a trip to Holt Arena to take on the defending 5A state champion Highland Rams sandwiched in there.
Even with a difficult schedule, Marshall said there is one game that stands above the rest.
“Our matchup with Bonneville in the Civil War,” he said. “They are our archrival, it’s an all-District 93 contest, the stadium is packed and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
The Knights hope that the sting of last year’s failures will lead to the joy of securing a playoff berth, even with a younger cast of characters in 2015.