Carey High School
Conference: Sawtooth Conference West Division
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Lane Kirkland
Years as Head Coach: 15th Season
Previous Experience: Oakley HS (1998-99)
Record Last Year: 9-2
State Titles: 1994,1998,2006,2008,2010
Lane Durtschi - 10 years
Jake Nilsen- 3 years
Joe Parke- Senior TE and OLB 6’4” 180
Collin Whitby- Senior TE and ILB 6’2” 175
Salvador Ruiz- Senior OL DL 5’10’ 200
Zach Olsen- Senior RB 5’10” 170
Dallin Dilworth- Senior OLB 6’0” 165
Toby Whitworth- QB and FS 5’9” 160
Returning Players with Honors:
Toby Whitworth, Honorable Mention All-Sawtooth DB
Photo By: Steve Conner - #22 Toby Whitworth
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Nate Adamson (Sawtooth Conference MVP and Offensive Player of the Year)
Incoming “impact” players:
Mario Mclaughlin- Senior 5’8” 155 DL
Nic D’ Orazio- Junior 5’10” 200 OL- DL
Derrick Baird- Junior 6’2” 195 OL- ILB
Hilario Ruiz- Sophomore 5’8” 150 RB
Written by: Will Hoenike (@willhoenike)
The 1A Division 2 Carey Panthers had an impressive run from 2006 to 2010. Three state titles (2006, 2008, 2010), a runner-up trophy in 2007 and state semifinalist in 2009.
Since then – and please note the sarcasm – the program has fallen on hard times. Over the past four seasons, the Panthers have won 32 more football games, reached another state championship game (runner-up in 2011) and reached the state semifinals last season.
Head coach Lane Kirkland, along with assistants Lane Durtschi and Jake Nilson, have crafted one of the state’s elite eight-man football programs. And that elite program will have to replace an elite player – 2014 Sawtooth Conference Player of the Year Nate Adamson. But don’t assume that means the Panthers are going anywhere any time soon.
“Replacing Nate at quarterback will be the most difficult task,” Kirkland said. “But, I believe we have just the guy that will grow and fill that spot quickly in Toby Whitworth.”
Whitworth was an honorable-mention All-Conference performer as a defensive back last fall as a sophomore and will now take the helm as the team’s quarterback. He has two big security blankets in three-year starters Joe Parke and Collin Whitby at tight end. Salvador Ruiz returns along the offensive front, leaving the opportunity for newcomers Derrick Baird and Nic D’Orazio to step into larger roles. Running backs Zach Olsen and Hilario Ruiz are expected to contribute offensively as well.
“All the holes the new guys will fill have had a great deal of time on the field in the JV ranks over the years and good deal of time in lots of varsity games,” Kirkland told IdahoSports.com. “I anticipate some good things from this rising group if they will play together.”
Defensively, Carey returns a lot of contributors to a unit that allowed just over 12 points per game last season, including two shutouts and four more games where the opponents were held to just six points. Ruiz will return along the defensive front alongside newcomer Mario McLaughlin with linebackers Parke, Whitby and Dallin Dilworth lined up behind him.
“Experience will really be a strong point for this crew,” Kirkland said of his defense. “Our pass D was solid last year. It will still come down to tackling though.”
After opening up with games against Challis and North Gem, the Panthers face a tough, two-game stretch in mid-September against Rockland (8-2 last season) and defending 1A Division 2 state champion Lighthouse Christian – Kirkland surmised the September 18 matchup in Twin Falls against the Lions “will tell us a lot” – before finishing the regular season with three of four games on its home field.
The Panthers, like all eight-man teams, need to stay healthy this season. If they do, the town of Carey should be prepared for more post-season football in 2015.