Prairie High School
Conference: 1AD1 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Ryan Hasselstrom
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Previous Experience: 12 Years as Head Coach and Assistant at Prairie
Record Last Year: 11-1
State Titles: 2008, 2014
Brandon Anderson, RB/LB, 12
Lucas Wemhoff, RB/DB, 12
Tyson Schlader, QB/WR/DB, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Jake Bruner, QB/S. Four year starter and team leader.
Calvin Hinkelman, RB/LB. Main run stopper on defense and versatile back in the backfield.
Philip Spencer, OL/DL. Anchored offensive line last season. Great pass and run blocker.
Photo By: Willy Harris - #6 Lucas Wemhoff
Incoming impact players:
Really young team with limited varsity experience.
Written by: Sven Alskog
Seeing Jake Bruner behind center for the Prairie Pirates had become commonplace in Idaho football. Entering the 2016 season it will be a new look, and everyone is interested to see what that look is.
Bruner was arguably the top quarterback in the 1AD1 classification all four years of his high school career, utilizing his towering presence in and out of the pocket, a strong arm and a good knack for running when needed to help continue the Prairie tradition. On many occasions Bruner was arguably a quarterback who could have been inserted right into a successful 4A or 5A program.
It looks like Tyson Schlader will be the man called upon to fill the massive shoes. Fortunately for him, the Pirates have a good backfield with Brandon Anderson and Lucas Wemhoff back.
"Our backfield will be the strength of our offense this year," said sixth year Head Coach Ryan Hasselstrom. "Brandon Anderson and Lucas Wemhoff will carry the majority of the load for us this season. We have been able to balance the run and the pass fairly well over the past couple of seasons and we look to continue that mindset."
While some good pieces are in place to help Prairie continue to be the class of the conference, the leadership aspect of the team will be something that needs to come together early in the season.
"We had good team speed and intelligence last year. We need to work on getting that back for this year's squad," said Hasselstrom.
It's a similar story on defense, with a relatively inexperienced group ready to take over key roles.
"We return only two defensive players off last year’s varsity team in Anderson and Wemhoff. Tyson Schlader and Spencer Schumacher will step in on the defensive line and in the secondary to help build the strength of our defense," said Hasselstrom.
While there will be a bit of a learning curve, that is part of what is exciting for the Pirates heading into a new era.
"[I'm most excited about] the opportunity to take the field with pretty much a whole new team. These young guys had great success at the junior varsity level and we plan on them being very good varsity players," added Hasselstrom.
Kamiah and Lapwai should both be competitive again this year, along with an improving Genesee group, making for a wide-open conference.
"I think there will be a lot of close games this season," said Hasselstrom. "With many new coaches in the league and no real 'favorite' going into the season, each game will be exciting to watch."
For the Prairie fans, the season opener at home on September 2 is one to circle.
"Once again we open with Genesee. Always a great game and one that will have playoff implications very early in the season. They are under a new coaching staff, so it will make it much more difficult to prepare for them so early in the season," said Hasselstrom.
While it will be a different look for the Pirates, that look is something which should continue to be exciting to watch, potentially competing to go deep in the 1AD1 playoffs.