Nampa Christian High School
Conference: 2A Western Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Jerry Smith
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 5 Seasons sub-varsity, 5 seasons semi-pro
Record Last Year: 8-3
State Titles: 1981
OL/LB Braxton Bujak (Jr)
WR/DB Josh deJong (Sr)
RB/DB Jacob Englar (Jr)
DT Wyatt Walker (Jr)
OL/DL Saloman Illunga
OL Nick Winbigler
Returning Players with Honors:
Bujak (Conference Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All State)
deJong (1st Team All-Conference)
Winbigler (1st Team All-Conference)
Key Players lost from last year:
QB Steve Tiersma
OT/DE Ryan Houchins
DE/RB Sam Pirlyakulkij
DB/P/K Parker Johnson
Photo By: Patty Theurer - #52 Braxton Bujak
Incoming impact players:
RB/LB Devan Gomez (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
At one point in the second quarter of a 2A state football semifinal game, the Nampa Christian Trojans trailed Grangeville by just six points.
Over the next few minutes, though, the visiting Bulldogs ripped off three touchdowns to take control of the game and earn a berth in the state championship game the following week as Nampa Christian was left to wonder “what if.”
For second-year head coach Jerry Smith, it’s back to the drawing board in 2016.
The Trojans lost a lot of firepower, led by long-time starting quarterback Steve Tiersma. But the cupboard is not bare. All-State linebacker Braxton Bujak - who was also the Western Idaho Conference defensive player of the year – returns for his junior season to lead a Trojan defense that allowed a total of 82 points during an eight-game winning streak that helped buoy the team after an 0-2 start.
The Trojans also return All-WIC defensive tackle Wyatt Walker along with defensive backs Josh deJong and Jacob Englar. Saloman Illunga slots in at defensive end as well as the Trojans return five key defenders from last season.
“Turnovers,” Smith told the Preview when asked about defensive keys to the season. “We need to create and capitalize on turnover opportunities.”
On offense, a big key will be replacing Tiersma, who called the signals for the Trojans for four seasons. The successor will have veteran help up front in center Nick Winbigler, Bujak, who plays guard, and Illunga, who plays tackle. Smith calls the group, “the strength of our offense.”
Nampa Christian averaged 26.2 points per game last season on offense. Running backs Jacob Englar and Devan Gomez, both juniors, will be asked to do most of the damage running the ball while deJong will be one of the primary targets in the passing game.
The Trojans, though skilled, don’t have the same level of depth as they did last season, which puts more importance on staying healthy. The team opens the season with games against 3A Gooding, 3A Parma and WIC rival New Plymouth (who many project to be a top-end Western Idaho Conference team this season) in the season’s first month. That’s a daunting gauntlet to have to run but, if the Trojans can avoid the injury bug, the team finishes with two of its final three conference games on its home field. No matter what, it figures to be a wild ride in the 2A Western Idaho Conference.
“With a bunch of play-making seniors gone,” Smith concluded. “It will be exciting to see who steps up into those roles.”