Century High School
Conference: 4A District 5-6 Conference
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Head Coach: Travis Hobson
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 3 years as Shelley head coach, assistant at Shelley for 7 years.
Record Last Year: 8-4
State Titles: 2001, 2002, 2004
Bridger Gunter, TE/WR, 12
Alec Dahlquist, RB, 12
Ryan Wilson, OL/LB, 12
Easton Anderson, OL/LB, 12
Brody Tracy, OL, 12
Travis White, LB, 11
Markos Huerta, DB, 12
Adam Ping, DB, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Chris Hansen, QB/K/P
Tristan Kayembe, RB/LB
Jesse Mitchell, WR/LB
Dallin Blaser, WR
Rhett Fackrell, WR
Photo By: Willy Harris - #4 Bridger Gunter
Incoming impact players:
Blaize Trulson, QB, 12
Zabas Mendez, DB, 12
Cole EchoHawk, WR, 12
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
Everywhere he’s been, he’s won.
As an assistant coach at Shelley, Travis Hobson helped the Russets to state titles in 2005, 2007, and 2009. When he was named as the head coach in 2012, he guided Shelley to two consecutive state titles. And now, at his new school on the southern end of Pocatello, Hobson has garnered a culture that he hopes should set up his team for success into the future.
Entering his second season at Century High School and coming off of an 8-4 year with a state semi-finals appearance, Hobson believes that his players are catching the vision of the program.
“As things continue to change and move in a new direction, we’re most excited to see the hard offseason work, the football-specific lifting and the general organization pay off,” he said. “The staff and players have worked hard to add size, speed and are taking care of their responsibilities off of the football field. While there are plenty of variables, this could shape up to be a very competitive team.”
The coach added that he’s already seeing the results of that work during fall camp.
“The guys continually keep getting tougher, both mentally and physically. The summer training program packed a lot of needed bulk on the players and they are starting to physically look like football players,” said Hobson. “A byproduct of the physical transformations, they have become mentally tougher and will outlast teams late in games as well as play through a tough schedule of games.”
Offensively for the Diamondbacks this season, while they lose many players who contributed greatly on the field, they bring back a new wave of players who are eager to make their mark. Hobson pointed to a common denominator when talking of his offense.
“We’re fast,” he said. “Cole EchoHawk has the ability to stretch teams horizontally and vertically in both the run and pass games. He will have a major impact on the offense and will be used in a lot of ways throughout the course of a game. Cameron Shipley and Bridger Gunter will also play large roles in the passing game. Both are quick with good hands. Our running backs are led by Alec Dahlquist, who is built to run inside the tackles. He has good field vision and a powerful body.”
The run game will also be aided by fullbacks Rex Ravsten and Coleton Adamson, both of whom bring ‘a lot of positives’ to the offense, according to Hobson.
Many starters graduated from last season’s team, including wide receivers Jesse Mitchell, Dallin Blaser, and Rhett Fackrell – all of whom Hobson said were ‘versatile downfield threats’ for his squad last year. The trio combined for 1,800 receiving yards and 18 touchdows. Star running back Tristan Kayembe, who rushed for 1,333 yards and 15 touchdowns, is also gone. However, in terms of which area of the offense was hurt the least due to graduation, it’s the offensive line.
“The line is where we have the most returning starters coming back, with Easton Anderson and Ryan Wilson leading the way,” said Hobson. “Additionally, Brody Tracy and Jordan Clark both return who started some games last year as juniors. The line is quick and move well in space. Every bit of size they give up to opponents they earn back in speed and agility.”
The big question heading into fall camp was at the quarterback position. Graduated starter Chris Hansen commanded the signal-calling position very well for Hobson last year and progressively got better every game. Hobson described him as “a strong passer and smart quarterback”. Hansen threw for over 2,100 yards with 21 touchdowns at over a 60% completion rate. The Diamondbacks were fortunate to have him for their inaugural season under Hobson as it’s tough to win when the quarterback can’t manage or direct the offense effectively. Hobson said choosing the right quarterback to lead the offense for this season was a major decision.
“Quarterback always seems to be the key factor and Blaize Trulson has earned his way to the job,” he said. “He throws the ball well, reads and runs well, and is a scrapper. He’s tough and durable and will insert himself into the run game well.”
With players moving in and out of the starting lineup on offense, there is always room for improvement. Hobson wants to see more involvement from everyone on the field.
“We’re looking to be more consistent across the offensive line and spread the ball to our weapons a little better,” he said. “We will continue the offensive creativity and solid fundamentals.” Century’s offense averaged 25.4 points per game last season.
On the other side of the ball, the theme for the defense is much like that of the offense: speed and toughness, especially in the defensive backfield.
“The secondary is returning Markos Huerta and Adam Ping as starters and adding Zabas Mendez who saw considerable time at corner last year. They should be solid,” said Hobson, adding that Mendez makes up for his lack of size with attitude and grit.
The linebacking corps should be a strong point for the Diamondbacks as well. Hobson talked positively about two individuals who will lead that group on the field.
“We return Travis White and Chase Bullock, who both added size to their previous strengths. Travis is a great defensive leader (as a junior) and plays with a high tempo. Bullock is a gap stopping load that is difficult to run on,” he said.
As for the line, Hobson expects a rotating door of players in order to give different looks to opposing offenses while keeping stamina at a high level throughout the game.
“The defensive line is going to utilize a lot of faces to keep pressures on offenses,” he said. “Seniors Drake Daniels, Hunter Warth and Jordan Clark all return having played a lot of minutes in 2015, and we add senior Seth Mayer and junior Dreytan Lugo in there as major players too.”
Last season, Century struggled at times to slow down the opposing team’s run game. That contributed to the Diamondbacks giving up an average of 29.0 points per contest. Hobson and his staff believe that they have been able to fully address that issue through offseason workouts and fall camp.
“We have the personnel to play physical at the line of scrimmage and are committed to slowing the run game of our opponents,” he said. “With our secondary back almost in the entirety, the focus has been on the front seven for us. The “bend-but-don’t-break” attitude is sticking around and should allow, with the experienced defense, a physical, run-stopping defense. We will continue to be aggressive and roll the dice with the blitz packages.”
Mental lapses by the defense gave way to big plays last year. Hobson added that it’s a key issue they are working on this season. Six of Century’s top 10 tacklers from last season have graduated, including the top four overall. While Century has talent, the depth isn’t what it was last season.
“Depth will be a critical issue” he said. “We’re an injury or two away from being a very different looking team.”
Hobson and his staff will see how far their team has progressed when they finally hit the field to open the season on August 26th in Burley. The following week, Century heads home to the comfy confines of Holt Arena to face Burley’s arch-rival, the Minico Spartans – a team that is always well prepared and well coached.
Conference play in the new-look 4A District 5-6 conference begins for the Diamondbacks on September 9th as they travel north on I-15 to face the Blackfoot Broncos at Hartkopf Field. Century then gets four straight games inside Holt Arena, as they will face Highland on September 16th, Preston on the 23rd, conference-newcomer Skyline on the 30th, and arch-rival Pocatello on October 6th. The season then wraps up on the road at Twin Falls on October 14th and at the other conference-newcomer, Idaho Falls, on October 20th.
When asked about which game is the one that fans absolutely cannot miss, Hobson was very straightforward in his answer.
“Every game counts, and with an expanded conference, the conference games are all big games, but there’s no question which game is a must-see: Thursday, October 6 at 8:30. If I have to explain why that is a big game, I have failed in my job of preparing my players and fans.”
With the change in classification cycle, both Skyline and Idaho Falls have dropped down from 5A to 4A as their enrollment continues to decrease. Even though the Grizzlies and Tigers didn’t find tons of success in 5A in recent years, Hobson says that everyone in the conference needs to watch out for them.
“Skyline and Idaho Falls have a huge advantage dropping from 5A to 4A,” he said. “Despite public perceptions, there is a difference between the two and, having done the classification drop in my career, there is a speed factor that they will have on their side. Skyline is loaded and has the conference by the tails. No one will sleep on Idaho Falls and the rest of the teams are not far behind. Each team has different strengths, though, so the two remaining playoff seeds are up for grabs. This seems to be about as strong the conference has been in a while.”
Hobson, his staff, and the players are looking forward to the season ahead. While coaching is stressful, Hobson finds it very rewarding.
“Coaching keeps old guys, and guys who are getting older young,” he said. ”There is a camaraderie and team mentality that is just not found anywhere else. Combative sports build special relationships that are difficult to break. Coaching is like the team version of golf, where it’s different every day. Every opponent is different and every play makes the game change and which forces coaches and players to think quickly and adapt on the fly.”
With a new cast of characters and new conference opponents this season, we will indeed see how fast Century can adapt to the circumstances around them and if they can parlay that into a second straight playoff appearance at the 4A level.