Clark County High School
Conference: Sawtooth Conference East Division
Classification: 1A D2
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Head Coach: Greg Shenton
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Record Last Year: 7-3
Payton Shenton, RB/LB, 12
Carter Eddins, RB, 11
Ty Parton, WR, 11
Cheque Gonzalez, OL/DL, 12
Alex Hernandez, OL/DL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Payton Shenton – All-Conference LB, All-Area 8-Man LB
Cheque Gonzalez – All-Conference OL/DL
Key Players lost from last year:
Tresten Eddins, RB
Landon May, WR/S
Luis Cano, OL
Alberto Ruiz, C
Connor Grover, QB
Jake Mickelson, DE/K/P
Zane Steward, DE
Photo By: Clark County Football
Incoming impact players:
Payton Shenton, RB/LB, 12
Carter Eddins, RB, 11
Guy Hales, WR/DE, 12
Matthew Murdock, QB/S, 11
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
The Clark County Bobcats have had an interesting football history, to say the least.
While they can’t lay claim to a state championship, they can say that they’ve played in the Montana 6-man league, the Idaho 8-man league, the failed Idaho 6-man pilot project, and they didn’t even have football for a year in 2004.
Last year, they added to that history: first time district champions.
The Bobcats went perfect in conference play, rolling to a 7-3 overall record before falling in a hard fought, close battle against perennial contender Lighthouse Christian in the state quarterfinals. And it was all done with very little preparation prior to the season.
Greg Shenton stepped in as head coach just a few short weeks before the season was scheduled to begin after the previous head coach left the program just prior to the campaign. What ensued was one of the best seasons in school history.
This year, Clark County will again add to their unique football history: joining forces via a co-op with Lima High School in Montana, a school about 45 miles north on Interstate 15 across the Monida Pass. The move was approved by the Idaho High School Activities Association during their August board meeting.
“The co-op will allows us to have a larger team for scrimmaging and practice overall,” Shenton said. Clark County has struggled with numbers in recent seasons – a trend that seems to be affecting almost every small school in Idaho. While the Bobcats had much better numbers in 2015, they lose a number of players due to graduation this year.
“We lose running back Tresten Eddins, who averaged about 16 yards per carry,” said Shenton. “Landon May reacted quickly and accurately on defensive reads from the safety position. We also lose quarterback Connor Grover, defensive end Jake Mickleson, defensive end Zane Steward, and linemen Alberto Ruiz and Luis Cano.”
But with graduation comes opportunity as new players will look to make their mark for the Bobcats this year. Shenton noted that there has been great momentum in their program since the end of last year.
“After returning from a team football camp there has been lots of improvements in all areas of the team, including attitude coming into this season, and lots of excited underclassmen ready to get some time,” he said. “A couple of the upperclassmen and team leaders during the off season would gather together for morning and nightly workouts together.”
Offensively for Clark County, the Bobcats feel they will be able to continue with their strong running game in 2016, which was highlighted by Eddins’ stellar play a year ago. This year, a new name will take over the main ball-carrying duties.
“Senior Payton Shenton takes over at running back. His general focus is as a great up field runner and he always has the key block for us,” the coach said. “Another player is junior Carter Eddins, who is a great runner and has a knack for the edge.”
As a team, Shenton said that they feel good about their ability to block on the offensive line and to continue to pound the ball in the ground game. However, they are seeking for balance in the offense.
“We hope to improve our passing game this year and have longer offensive possessions,” he said. “Junior Matthew Murdock is stepping in at quarterback and he is very quick with a good arm.” Clark County averaged 36.2 points per game in 2015.
Senior Guy Hales is also a player that Shenton believes can make an impact for Clark County in 2016 at the wide receiver position.
Defensively, the Bobcats strengths lie in the same spot they do on offense – the rushing attack.
“We have a great run defense and are able to keep the plays within the numbers on the field, which helps us out a lot,” said Shenton.
Payton Shenton returns to the defense for his senior campaign, having started at linebacker for three-and-a-half years while serving as captain for three seasons.
“He averaged 10 solo tackles per game last year and just has a great mind to read defenses,” Shenton said, who also mentioned Carter Eddins as having the potential to be a great defensive end or linebacker.
He added that getting more pressure on the quarterback this season would be key to their success overall.
“We need to improve in defending the pass,” he said. “It hurt us last year.”
Shenton said he is excited to see his players grow and develop this season, especially the underclassmen.
“Our underclassmen are excited to play,” he said. “They didn’t get much of a chance last year because we had a lot of talented seniors. The interaction with the young men and watching them grow and struggle to become better young men on and off the field is what makes coaching high school football great for me.”
Those underclassmen will finally be unleashed on August 26th when the Bobcats host Richfield. After a bye week, Clark County then hosts perennial power Carey at home on September 9th. Conference play then opens with the Bobcats on the road at Watersprings in Idaho Falls, before hosting two straight at home against Rockland and North Gem. The Bobcats finish the season on the road at Camas County in Fairfield and at Butte County in Arco.
Shenton said the Butte County game could be the game to watch this year for Bobcat fans.
“They are new in the conference this year and they got us last year pretty good,” Shenton said. Butte County walloped Clark County 45-12 last year in Dubois. “It could be a huge game as it’s at the end of the season and could be a deciding factor for the playoffs.”
Despite Butte County joining the conference, having been successful in the 1A Division-I ranks, Shenton believes they can repeat at conference champions.
“I like our chances,” he said. “I consider Butte a front runner as well. North Gem and Rockland are returning lots of players with experience this year. I would put our conference as one of the toughest conferences in the 8-man division this season.”
The players at Clark County High School understand the opportunity that is before them – a chance to do something that has never been done before in their school’s history: win back-to-back district titles. But, they understand that none of that potential glory is possible without work.
“Our motto this year is “Always Earn, Never Given”, meaning that we need to earn and work hard for everything we get, as nothing will just be given to us,” said Shenton.
If they can earn a second straight district title, it will just add to the unique football history at Clark County.