Conference: Sawtooth Conference East Division
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: John Yadon
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: 8 years in GridKid
Record Last Year: 1-7
State Titles: None
Clayton Christensen, OL/DL, Senior
Nathaniel Marlin, RB/SS, Senior
Mark Mathison, QB/DE, Junior
Kyle McCain, OL/DE, Junior
Kyson Poletti, RB/LB, Sophomore
Matthew Thompson, RB/DB, Sophomore
Returning Players with Honors:
Clayton Christensen, OL/DL, Senior – All-Conference OL/DL last two seasons
Photo By: Brad Barlow - #73 Clayton Christensen
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Ben Hayes, TE/DE
Daniel Buell, RB/SS
Dustyn Remer, OL/DL/LB
Incoming “impact” players:
Lucas Marlin, TE/CB, Freshman
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
Lost in the midst of the four 5A schools in the Idaho Falls area is a small, private Christian school on the south side of the city. They’re entering their third season of full membership with the Idaho High School Activities Association. In their first official season, they had a winning record and earned a home playoff game.
Still curious as to whom I’m talking about?
It’s 1AD2 Sawtooth East Conference member Watersprings School, formerly known as Calvary Chapel Christian School (their school name was changed in 2014).
While they are no longer the newest member of the IHSAA (that title now goes to Genesis Prep of Post Falls), there just aren’t many people who know about the school… let alone it’s sports programs.
The Watersprings Warriors are led by head coach John Yadon, now in his 4th season at the helm of the football program (the school’s first season was as an associate member of the IHSAA). They have already seen the ups and downs from year-to-year as a program – going from a winning record in 2013 with a playoff appearance to a one-win season last year should illustrate that.
The Warriors look to redeem themselves from a 1-7 campaign, but will have to do so without the services of three players that help lay the groundwork for the program from its inception – Ben Hayes, Daniel Buell, and Dustyn Remer.
“Ben was one of our biggest offensive threats and defensive forces going back to his sophomore year,” Yadon said. “A multi-year All-Conference player, Ben’s passion and drive will be missed. Daniel was a very talented athlete that could make a big play happen at anytime on both sides of the ball. His senior year was cut short due to a knee injury and it definitely showed in the second half of our season.”
As for Remer, Yadon said his leadership will be missed.
“Dustyn was strong and a force on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Similar to his junior year, his senior season was cut short due to a knee injury. His leadership and the stability he provided on the field will be greatly missed.”
While the Warriors appreciate the contributions of those who have now graduated, they now look forward to what lies ahead in 2015. That includes working with a total student population of just 48 kids, meaning some young players could see significant field time.
“We will have to start some freshman, so we hope they will have an impact,” Yadon said. “Athletically, Lucas Marlin has the potential to be a standout.”
The cupboard isn’t completely bare at Watersprings though. The Warriors return six players with varsity experience, including two-time All-Conference selection Clayton Christensen on the offensive and defensive lines.
“Clayton will anchor our offensive line this year and with veteran players in the backfield, we will look to run the ball often,” said Yadon.
The trio of junior quarterback Mark Mathison, senior Nathaniel Marlin, and sophomore Kyson Poletti will anchor that backfield with hopes of improving their 26.9 points per game average. Yadon said he is excited to see what his crew of skill players can do this season.
“We have a really solid starting backfield that can block, run, and catch,” he said.
Sophomore Matthew Thompson could see time at running back as well. Joining Christensen on the line is junior Kyle McCain. As much as the rushing attack is the main focal point of the Warriors offense, Yadon knows that balance is needed.
“Our passing game needs to significantly improve for us to be competitive,” he said. “Our pass blocking and quarterback decisions will be a focus in practice.”
Defensively, Watersprings will see many, if not all, of the same faces on both sides of the ball. Mathison will work from the defensive end position with McCain opposite him. Poletti anchors the second level of defense from the linebacker position and Thompson looks to add to the secondary.
“Christensen will anchor our defensive line once again and Marlin will run the secondary,” Yadon said. “Our focus is containing the outside.”
In 8-man football, if a play is broken to the outside, the chances are good of a long gain or scoring play just simply based on having three fewer defenders on the field (an 11-man regulation field at that). But Yadon said that plays in the open field killed his team last year.
“Our biggest issue on defense last season was poor tackling, especially in the open field. We are stressing getting to the ball early and making solid tackles at first contact.”
The Warriors will only have a short season to prove themselves, however. Conference-foe Sho-Ban has decided to not play football again this season and former 1A powerhouse Mackay will only be playing a JV schedule due to low numbers. However, if there is a game the fans should see this year, Yadon said it’s against their conference opponent from Bancroft.
“North Gem is the must-see game of the year,” he said. “Every year that we play them the score is high and crazy plays happen.”
With so much focus on the success and development of the team and program on the field, the Warriors understand and believe that football is merely a tool to learn.
“Football is a great way to speak into the lives of young men,” Yadon said. “So many lessons and values learned from football – hard work, toughness, teamwork, character, selflessness, how life isn’t fair, etc. – all correlate to our walk with Christ and in life in general. If they can learn these lessons now and build or change their character now, it will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Everything we do is centered around Christ, so in victory or defeat we are challenged to grow in him and how we represent who we are.”
The ups-and-downs of the program early on can certainly correlate to the ups-and-downs of normal life. Yadon and his Warriors hope that their program is on the upswing – and that they will be going in that direction for the foreseeable future.
Watersprings opens the season on Aug. 28 on the road at Butte County.