Oakley High School
Conference: 1AD1 Snake River Conference
Classification: 1A D1
Head Coach: Kade Craner
Years as Head Coach: 8th Season
Previous Experience: 22 years assistant at Twin Falls prior to being named Head Coach
Record Last Year: 8-2
State Titles: 1985, 2007, 2009
Matt Pickett (Sr)
Bridger Cranney (Jr)
Caleb Nyman (Sr)
Jordan Cranney (Sr)
Dallan Cooper (Sr)
Rem Sagers (Sr)
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Martin Barre (1st-Team All-State K)
Levi Mitton (1st-Team All-State DL)
Clay Bedke (2nd-Team All-State LB)
Kwayd Wadsworth (2nd-Team All-State DB)
Incoming “impact” players:
NT Bryton Cooper (Jr)
OL/DL Jake Nyman (Soph)
OL/LB Austin Bedke (Fr)
WR/DB Hewey Beck (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
One of the great charms of small-school, small-town football is the “family” atmosphere. Fathers, uncles, cousins and brothers share stories of their time on the same field through the years. There are few places where such legacies are more evident than Oakley, Idaho, with its population of just under 800 people in southern Idaho.
There has seemingly been a Cranney on the roster every year since the school opened. Two Bedkes leaving? No worries, here comes another. Two Mittons leave but, lo and behold, there’s another one on the roster to carry on.
There are other examples, but you get the point.
And it seems the program seldom misses a beat. First-year head coach Kade Craner, the team’s defensive coordinator for the previous eight seasons, inherits six returning starters from a team that went 8-2 last season, knocked out of the 1A Division 1 eight-man playoffs by eventual state champion Prairie.
Expectations, justifiably, are high for the Hornets. The team was ranked no. 4 in the IdahoSports.com pre-season poll, released in late August.
One of Craner’s returners is senior Matt Pickett, who will assume the team’s quarterback position. The team’s offense has been run-heavy in the past but Craner insists his team will not be afraid to use Pickett to throw the ball down the field if need be.
“We are moving a lot of kids around to new positions to capitalize on their strengths and give us the best chance to succeed,” Craner told IdahoSports.com. “We want to be more balanced than we have been in the past.”
Pickett will have junior running back Bridger Cranney alongside him in the backfield. Cranney was part of one of the most-memorable plays in all of District IV football last season, regardless of classification, when he hauled in a halfback pass with less than 30 seconds to play to beat arch-rival (and then-top-ranked) Raft River. The Hornets also return seniors Dallen Cooper and William Wybenga at tight end alongside linemen Caleb Nyman, Jake Nyman and Austin Bedke.
Defensively, the Hornets pitched six shutouts in ten games last season and only one team – Glenns Ferry – scored against Oakley on Oakley’s home field.
“Up front, on the defensive line, we will be experienced and tough,” Craner said. “Again, we are moving kids to new positions so we can maximize our strengths.”
The two Nymans, Caleb and Jake, will be part of that defensive front along with junior nose tackle Bryton Cooper. Pickett and Cooper will fill roles at linebacker while Hewey Beck looks to join the group at defensive back along with Cranney.
The path to the 1A Division 1 playoffs is not without bumps, though. The Hornets open with Kamiah from District II, ranked no. 5 in the IdahoSports.com pre-season poll, but Oakley will get two big-time clashes on its home field when no. 1-ranked Valley visits on October 18 and Raft River comes to town on October 9.