New Plymouth High School
Conference: 2A Western Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Dallan Rupp
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: 6 Season as Assistant
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
QB Riley Harris (Sr)
RB/LB Jake Wilson (Sr)
WR/CB Cody Fernley (Sr)
LB Riley Farden (Jr)
OL Dylan Kuhlman (Sr)
OL/DL Dylan Hendry (Jr)
OL Will Gergen (Jr)
CB Garrett Powell (Jr)
P/LB Connor Buck (Sr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Jake Wilson (1st-Team RB/2nd-Team LB)
Cody Fernley (1st-Team CB/2nd-Team WR)
Dylan Hendry (2nd-Team OL)
Riley Farden (1st-Team LB);
Connor Buck (2nd-Team P)
Key Players lost from last year:
OL/DL Teagan Petross
FB/LB Justin Griffith
Photo By: Steve Conner - #13 Jake Wilson
Incoming impact players:
RB/FS Ismael Daniel (Sr)
OL/DL Tanner Grooms (Sr)
OL/LB Dallin Beus (Jr)
RB/LB Teagan Gross (Jr)
OL/DL Nick Woods (Soph)
RB/CB Seth Mowder (Soph)
When you look at it game-by-game, the 2015 New Plymouth Pilgrims were oh-so-close to having a strong season.
A two-point road loss to Melba. Within one score late against eventual WIC champion Nampa Christian. A tough, low-scoring loss at home against a solid team from Nyssa (OR).
Flip the script in one or two of those games – especially Nampa Christian and Melba, because those games came in back-to-back weeks and represented the two teams that finished ahead of the Pilgrims in the standings – and the entire scope of the team’s season could be different.
So it’s logical to think that the Pilgrims, with five all-conference performers back, should be right in the thick of things in the Western Idaho Conference in 2016.
Fourth-year head coach Dallan Rupp has a strong core returning on defense, a group that held five of nine opponents under 23 points last season … three of which were held to 14 or less.
“We are tough to run against down the middle,” Rupp pointed out.
That begins with a tough defensive front. Junior Dylan Hendry returns to the defensive line, where he’ll be joined by senior Tanner Grooms and sophomore Nick Woods.
The Pilgrims’ linebacking corps appear deep, led by first-team All-Conference performer Riley Farden and second-team All-Conference performer Jake Wilson.
Juniors Dallin Beus and Teagan Gross should see time at the linebacker spot as well, giving Rupp options to help replace the loss of departed senior Justin Griffith, a second-team All-State performer in 2015.
The Pilgrims’ secondary is led by All-Conference cornerback Cody Fernley and junior Garrett Powell. Ismael Daniel is slated to join the secondary as well at the safety position and sophomore Seth Mowder could see time as well.
Offensively, New Plymouth returns starting quarterback Riley Harris behind an experienced offensive front of Hendry, Dylan Kuhlman and Will Gergen, who will be joined by Grooms and Woods. The team will certainly feel the loss of departed All-State lineman Teagan Petross, but still appears to be a strength in 2016.
That group will be charged with keeping the Pilgrims’ ground game strong. The top ball-carrier figures to be Wilson, a returning first-team All-Conference runner as well as second-team linebacker. As a junior, Wilson rushed for over 600 yards and nine touchdowns, including a three-score game against Melba. Wilson won’t be alone in the backfield, though. Daniel, Gross and Mowder should all get the opportunity to carry the ball.
Where Rupp is hoping to see improvement in the Pilgrims’ attack is when the team goes to the air. A seasoned QB (Harris) and talented receiver (Cody Fernley, second-team All-Conference WR) gives New Plymouth a legitimate threat to move the ball via the pass, but a more consistent aerial attack would make the ground game even more potent than it already is.
The Pilgrims certainly aren’t easing in to their schedule. The team opens at Homedale – a 3A semifinalist last season – before hosting Payette and Nyssa. Then comes the kickoff to the Western Idaho Conference season against old rival Nampa Christian.
“They are the defending WIC champions and we’re looking to get back on top,” Rupp said of the importance of the conference opener in Nampa. “It is also our first conference game of the season and will set the tone for the rest of the year.”
The winner of that game will put itself in good position going forward, but the rest of the Pilgrims’ schedule isn’t without potential land mines. The team plays three of its final four conference games at home, with its lone road game being against a pesky Cole Valley Christian team that was in virtually every game it played, despite its final record (2-6).
The Pilgrims will close the slate at home on October 21 against Melba, a game that, once again, could be for playoff seeding in the 2A state playoffs, which begin the following week.