Century High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
Head Coach: Travis Hobson
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: Assistant Coach at Shelley HS 2004-2011, Head Coach at Shelley HS 2012-2014
Record Last Year: 4-6
State Titles: 2000, 2001, 2003
Tristan Kayembe, RB/LB, Senior (pictured)
Jesse Mitchell, WR/LB, Senior
Kolby McKee, OL/DL, Senior
Jeremiah Ditton, DL/OL, Senior
Mason Shipley, DL/OL, Senior
Kaden Iverson, DL, LS, Senior
Carson Fernandez, LB, Senior
Mac Hicks, DB/WR, Senior
Jon Treasure, DB, Senior
Adam Ping, DB, Junior
Markos Huerta, DB, Junior
Dallin Blaser, WR, Senior
Rhett Fackrell, WR, Senior
Returning Players with Honors:
Tristan Kayembe, All- Area Honorable Mention RB
Markos Huerta, All-Area Honorable Mention, DB
Photo By: Jason Duchow - #8 Tristan Kayembe
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Tanner Mauseth, OL/DL - Size and reach will be missed. Plays at University of Idaho.
Connor Moon, LB - General toughness and defensive leadership.
Preston Radford, OL - Experience on the line.
Incoming “impact” players:
Chris Hansen, QB/K/P, Senior
Brayden Haney, DB, Senior
Sam Muse, DL, Junior
Easton Anderson, OL/LB, Junior
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
It was a tale of two seasons seemingly for the Century Diamondbacks in 2014.
During the first half of the year, Century scored a grand total of 34 points in five games (a 6.8 points per game average) while giving up a total of 212 points during that same span (an average of 42.4 points per game) while compiling an 0-5 record. The team was very young and very inexperienced after losing 30-plus seniors from the 2013 team that took eventual state champion Bishop Kelly to double-overtime in the state semifinals. Needless to say, there weren’t a lot of happy moments to celebrate at that point in the year.
Then October rolled around and a switch flipped for the Diamondbacks. It was as if the entire first half of the season didn’t exist. Century rolled off four straight wins, beating cross-town rival Pocatello, Burley, Twin Falls, and conference-foe Preston. The offense averaged 36.0 points per game while giving up only 18.3 points per game, a monumental swing. The win streak helped Century qualify for the first round of the 4A state playoffs. While they were brought back down to earth in a crushing 56-7 defeat at the hands of a very strong Sandpoint squad, the building blocks were now in place for the future of football at the southern Pocatello school.
But in mid-January, Century lost their head coach Dave Spillett as he took the vacant coaching job at archrival Pocatello (his alma mater), leaving the Diamondbacks searching for a new leader of their varsity squad. The school decided they wanted someone who could not just build the varsity squad into a consistent contender but the program as a whole.
The man they chose was Travis Hobson.
The former Shelley head football coach, who led the Russets to two 3A state championships in 2012 and 2013 along with a state semifinals appearance last season, decided that a new challenge and being able to work in the city he lived in was too much to pass up.
Even then, the decision to leave the only high school he’s ever coached at was extremely tough.
“Short of getting married, this has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever made,” Hobson said to the Post Register in January. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my kids in Shelley, my coaching staff at Shelley, and my administration.”
Now that he’s at Century and has begun the revitalization of the entire program, he couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity and challenge that lies ahead.
“Our players, coaches, students, parents, and administrators are excited for what change brings,” he said. “With a new coach, a new vision, new expectations, new faces, and a new emphasis on the rivalry and games that matter, the buzz around here is tangible.”
With a slew of returning seniors and juniors on the squad, Hobson will have plenty to work with in his first season with the Diamondbacks.
Returning to the offense this season is lead running back Tristan Kayembe, now in his third season with the varsity squad. He will work in the backfield with teammates Griff Joseph and Alec Dahlquist, whom Hobson noted will see ‘substantial carries’ this season.
Leading the way under center will be senior quarterback Chris Hansen, who missed all but three plays of his junior season with a broken ankle. Hobson said his staff is very enthusiastic about his abilities.
“While he doesn’t have much varsity experience, our staff is very pleased with his leadership and football IQ,” he said.
Several receivers are back in the fold this year as well, as returning starters Jesse Mitchell and Dallin Blaser will be main targets this year. Rhett Fackrell, Mac Hicks, Cole EchoHawk, and Bridger Gunter bring back their varsity experience from last season to the squad in 2015. With so many weapons to work with, will there be enough touches for all?
“Our single biggest focus is keeping our scheme balanced,” Hobson said. “We want to rely on our ability to spread formations out and throw the ball in space as well as get our hands in the dirt and control the clock with the run game.”
While the skill players are plentiful in Century’s offense, rebuilding the offensive line and getting that unit to gel quickly is a must for the staff.
“We’re replacing 80 percent of the offensive line this season,” said Hobson, who lost four starters to graduation including 1st Team All-Idaho offensive lineman and University of Idaho signee Tanner Mauseth. “Solidifying that line is a top priority.”
Hobson also pointed to areas on offense that Century needs to improve on during fall camp and continually progress in from week-to-week.
“We’re looking to improve our offensive efficiency and production early in games, early in downs, and early in the season,” he said. “With a playoff game in zero week, we’re out of the frying pan and in the fire right out of the gate!”
That ‘playoff game’ he is referring to is a date with the Rigby Trojans on the road on Aug. 28. The Trojans, who reached the state semifinals last year, are a league opponent in the combined 4A District 5-6 conference. Hobson emphasized that while it’s a big game right off the bat, every game in their minds is a big game.
“Every game matters to us, particularly the regular season conference games,” he said.
Defensively, the Diamondbacks bring back a host of returning starters from last year. Of the 13 athletes that started on defense at some point in 2014, 10 of them are back.
“Much of the defensive strengths of our team are courtesy of consistency and familiarity,” Hobson said. “The heart of the defensive coaching staff returns and many of the starters including the entire line, entire secondary, and half of the linebacking core.”
On the line, Jeremiah Ditton and Mason Shipley will anchor the first level of defense along with Sam Muse, Drake Daniels, Kolby McKee, Kaden Iverson and others in hopes of keeping the rotation fresh. In the linebacking core, Kayembe and Mitchell will lead the second level of defense with Carson Fernandez, Ryan Wilson, Easton Anderson and Travis White working around them. And in the secondary, the returning quartet of Adam Ping, Jon Treasure, Mac Hicks and All-Area selection Marcos Huerta are back to lockdown on the outside.
Joining the secondary this year is Highland transfer Brayden Haney, whom Hobson said has “the ability to play across the entire backfield, cover like a corner and has the size of a linebacker”.
“Our defense should be the strength of our team early in the season,” he said. “Nearly all of our defensive starters are back. They were young and inexperienced last season. Improving player consistency and personal accountability in assignment football is key for us.”
Hobson noted that having assistant coach Jay Ferguson and other defensive staff members from the previous regime back in the fold should only accelerate the progress of the defense.
“The heart of the our defensive coaching staff is back… and they like to bring pressure from all over the field. We have the athletes and experience to do it.”
The vision and implementation of the new football program at Century is already paying dividends. The Diamondbacks are working to make sure that this continues for this season and beyond and that it’s not just a fresh new car smell that fades off after a few weeks.
“For us to have success this season as a team, our players and our community has to buy in,” said Hobson. “The expectations are very different, the rules are different, there is structure with demands and accountability that are higher than the players and parents are accustomed to.”
The new coach said that over 100 players have attended summer workouts consistently and that they have been ‘neck deep’ in the new changes.
“Change is hard,” he said. “A buy-in consisting of dipping a toe at a time and easing in just won’t cut it anymore. Everyone from the starting quarterback to the mom who shows up to Friday night’s game midway through the first quarter to the grandma who listens on the radio needs to either dive in from 50 feet up or sit on the beach and sip down drinks with umbrellas in them.”
Indeed, the culture for the Century football program has been radically changed. Hobson is not doing this for personal accolades or recognition. He’s doing it for two reasons – his love of young people and because the school wants it.
“One of the most impressive things here so far is how hungry this school is to take the next step,” he said. “The school community is anxious for long-term success – administrators and staff members are involved and concerned.”
Hobson noted the long track record of success in the classroom at Century High School as a key tie-in to the program and shaping the lives of the kids he helps coach.
“The academic culture and standard at Century is unmatched in East Idaho,” he said. “Academics are not a worry, because teachers push their students and hold them accountable. The classroom success leads to the teaching ease of complicated football scheme and theory on the field.”
Hobson said he loves coaching high school football and that there is nothing else like it. He hopes to see great change and growth in his team this year while being a positive influence in the lives of his kids. He noted that being a part of that is ‘special’.
“Football is an avenue like no other to teach certain values and character traits vital to long-term success and happiness in life,” he said. “But let’s be honest, there’s nothing like the feeling of football on Friday night and coaching puts a guy right in the thick of it.”
The Diamondbacks’ theme this season is ‘Ante Up’ – a fitting motto for a school whose football goals now match its excellent academic goals.