Malad High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Rick Driessen
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: Nine seasons in football, twelve in baseball
Record Last Year: 1-7
State Titles: None
Rhett Daniels, 12
Tyler Evens, 11
DJ Evens, 12
Devin Wilson, 12
Kolby Driessen, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Kolby Driessen, All-Conference Honorable Mention
DJ Evens, All-Conference Second Team TE
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
New season. New coach. New attitude.
The Malad Dragons come into the 2016 season with renewed optimism and a new outlook. The school has not made the playoffs since 2012 and hasn’t advanced past the play-in round since 2010, but new head coach Rick Driessen is starting the rebuild from the ground up.
Driessen, who has previously served as an assistant defensive coach at Malad, said that his plan to start the turnaround all begins in the weight room.
“My background is in weight lifting and conditioning. Malad has never really been known for their size and strength and I plan to change that,” he said. “Since I took over, the kids have been doing my workouts and in just two months we’ve had kids break school records in bench and squat. If these kids stay on track, we should be a much bigger and very powerful program in the upcoming years.”
Especially in the run-heavy, ground-and-pound South East Idaho Conference, Driessen’s plan can only help the squad which finished 1-7 in 2015, including no league wins. Even then, the new coach understands it takes more than just talent to secure wins on the football field.
“Our motto this year is “Count On Me”, meaning we can’t do anything unless we work together,” he said. “We want the team to work as a family, which we haven’t done in awhile.”
Driessen said that aura surrounding the program is much different now than it was at this time last year.
“It’s totally different this year. Not only with the new staff and the program, but these kids have a great attitude and our motivation is high, just completely the opposite from last year,” he said.
Malad returns a few players this season with previous experience at the varsity level, including All-Conference selections Kolby Driessen and DJ Evens. They are joined by Rhett Daniels, Tyler Evens, and Devin Wilson to give the Dragons a decent amount of returning talent.
When asked to identify any incoming under-the-radar players who could potentially make a big impact this season, Driessen simply said, “All of them.”
“I expect all of my player to impact players this year. If we have an All-State players, it’s because of the whole team doing their job, not just one guy.”
Offensively, Driessen hopes to catapult his players hard work in the offseason into results on the scoreboard. Malad averaged just 11.8 points per game last season.
“We need our whole team doing their assigned job on offense for us,” he said. “We have good speed this year and kids who are a lot stronger. We really just need to improve on everything all-around.”
Defensively, the keyword in Malad is “hit”.
“These kids like to hit and that’s what I teach,” Driessen said. “We hope to improve in every area defensively over last season.”
The Dragons gave up an average of 37.5 points per game in 2015.
The new season begins at home for Malad as they welcome Marsh Valley to town on August 26th. The Dragons then hit the road for two straight away games: at Ririe and at Firth. They then return home for their final non-conference game of the year on September 16th when they host North Fremont. South East Idaho Conference play then opens on September 23rd when Malad travels to defending state runner-up Aberdeen.
The Dragons then finish the season at home against Soda Springs, Bear Lake and on the road a perennial power West Side.
Driessen is well aware of just how tough the conference is overall.
“Aberdeen is always tough. They’ll be on top until someone knocks them off. Bear Lake should also have a good year too.”
As for the fans, Driessen’s message is simple – you’re going to want to be there for every game.
“I say that every game is a must-see game for the fans,” he said. “If these kids continue with the way things have been going so far, this is going to be a fun year.”