Lakeland High School
Conference: 4A Inland Empire League
Head Coach: Tim Kiefer
Years as Head Coach: 13th Season
Previous Experience: Timberlake, Lewiston and Bonners Ferry
Record Last Year: 7-3
State Titles: 1988, 1989
Returning Players with Honors:
QB Tyrel Derrick, MLB Chris Washburn
Incoming “impact” players:
QB Jared Walker (Jr)
RB Ryan Pote (Jr)
RB Jared McDaniel (Jr)
DL Antonio Brown (Jr)
WR Andrew Neilson (Jr)
LB Owen Dickens (Jr)
WR Kaden Davis (Soph)
S Dylan Vahey (Soph)
LB Josh Brandt (Soph)
Written by: Will Hoenike
Tim Kiefer and his Lakeland Hawks program has qualified for the 4A state playoffs in three of the past four seasons out of District 1. But, to listen to Kiefer talk, he seems to be preaching tempered expectations in the northern Idaho community of Rathdrum.
“We are incredibly young,” Kiefer told IdahoSports.com. “We will start 22 different kids (this season) and they will all be back next season.”
A large portion of the focus, naturally, falls on the quarterback position where Kiefer turns the keys over to Jared Walker. The junior, who placed third in the 170-pound bracket of the 4A state wrestling tournament as a sophomore, replaces Tyrel Derrick – himself a two-sport star who led Lakeland to state in football and basketball last season.
Kiefer would like to see Walker whip the ball around a bit this season, considering it a potential strength of the offense.
“Throwing the ball,” Kiefer said. “We look to air it out to our talented skill positions.”
Walker will have time to grow and build chemistry with his teammates, especially junior wide receiver Andrew Neilson and sophomore wide receiver Kaden Davis. Juniors Ryan Pote and Jared McDaniel will share the ball-carrying duties in the backfield behind a rebuilt offensive line as the Hawks look to match (or even top) the 35 points per game the team averaged last season. The team rolled up 71 points in one of its seven wins last season, the highest single-game scoring total in several years for Lakeland.
Defensively, likewise, the Hawks will be breaking in a lot of new faces. Junior Owen Dickens and sophomore Josh Brandt will step in to linebacker positions behind defensive lineman Antonio Brown.
Dylan Vahey is expected to fill the role of free safety for Lakeland’s defense.
Kiefer and his staff like the pieces they have to work with but admit that it could take a few weeks before the puzzle starts to come together.
“We need to improve at an exponential rate to touch Sandpoint,” Kiefer said of his expectations in the 4A Inland Empire League. “(It’s) something I feel we are capable of.”
The Sandpoint game he points to is on October 9 in Sandpoint, week 7 of the season for the Hawks. That gives his team six weeks to get up to speed.
An equally-important game comes two weeks later at home when the Hawks host Moscow. With only three teams in the 4A IEL, both games are pivotal.
One rough week can be the difference between having a chance to play football in November for the fourth time in five years … or start pointing to next season, when Lakeland should be primed to be a big factor in the 4A classification.