Preston High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
Head Coach: Nick Hyde
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: 3 years as Junior Varsity Head Coach at Preston
Record Last Year: 3-6
State Titles: 1993
Kaleb Talbot, RB/LB, Senior
Jaden Panter, WR/CB, Senior
Kyon Wakley, RB/LB, Senior
Sam Seamons, OL/DL, Senior
Connor Durrant, LB, Senior
Tyler Selley, WR/FS, Senior
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Tayson Reid, OL/DL
Austin Smellie, QB
Incoming “impact” players:
Branson Atkinson, RB, Senior
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
The Preston Indians have slowly, but surely, put themselves on an upward course for success.
In 2012, the Indians won a single contest. They doubled their win total in 2013 before posting three wins last year.
Now, fourth year head coach Nick Hyde hopes that this is the year Preston breaks out of its slump and advances to the state tournament for the first time since 2011.
Offensively, the Indians return several players, especially at the skill positions. Senior running back and leading rusher Kaleb Talbot will pave the way for Preston, with senior Kyon Wakley joining him in the backfield. Senior Jaden Panter and Tyler Selley will lead the way from the receiver positions, while Sam Seamons anchors the offensive line. Senior tailback Branson Atkinson is someone who could post a breakout season.
“I’m very excited about our experience at the skill positions, as we have a lot of players returning,” said Hyde. “Our key to this season will be our offensive line play.”
The question now becomes: who triggers the offense?
The Indians were set to be led by incoming senior Austin Smellie, who had started at the position since he was a sophomore. But with a budding basketball career that has led to multiple college offers, Smellie decided to focus solely on basketball for his final year, leaving a void that Preston now has to fill.
According to the Idaho State Journal, the battle at quarterback has come down to Selley and Panter.
Defensively, the Indians bring back several starters with experience. Seamons will lead the defensive line while Talbot, Wakley, and Connor Durrant anchor what should be a tough linebacking core. Panter and Selley will bring stability to the secondary.
“Our defense has been our strength the last couple of years and should be the same this year,” Hyde said. “We return seven starters on the defensive side of the ball.”
One player who is not returning this season is Tayson Reid, who graduated. Hyde noted that Reid’s efforts and skill set will be sorely missed.
“We was a huge part of what we did offensively and defensively on the line,” he said.
Preston will open up the 2015 schedule with a three-game homestand, including two out-of-state opponents. The Indians begin with Park City, Utah before hosting Star Valley, Wyoming. They then host 3A powerhouse Shelley before traveling to play their old 3A rival, the defending 3A state champion Snake River Panthers in Moreland. Preston was the only team to beat Snake River last season.
Then, the tough 4A District 5-6 conference schedule opens up with a trip to Holt Arena to take on the new-look Pocatello Indians. Preston begins October with a trip to Minico, before finishing the regular season slate by hosting Blackfoot, taking a long trip north to Rigby, and playing a home date against revamped Century.
“Any game on our schedule is a ‘must-see’ game,” said Hyde. “We have a great schedule with some really tough opponents.”
Hyde expects and anticipates big things from his squad this season. Being able to be a part of the game he loves and seeing that success is one of the reasons he coaches.
“I’m here for the love of the game,” he said. “There isn’t a place I’d rather be on a Friday night in the Fall.”
He, along with the rest of the Preston faithful, certainly hope that this year’s Fall with football is extended by a lengthy trip to the postseason.