Priest River Lamanna High School
Conference: 3A Intermountain League
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Head Coach: Shane Douglas
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Record Last Year: 1-7
RB/LB Tommy Anselmo; QB Anthony Storro; OL/DL Dylan Patterson; OL/DL Joshua Coombs; OL/DL Sammy Hernandez; OL/DL Derrick Melton; TE/DB Collin Dietrick; WR/DB Noah Jamison
Returning Players with Honors:
All-IML RB/LB Tommy Anselmo; All-IML OL/DL Joshua Coombs; All-IML DB Anthony Storro
Photo By: Jason Duchow - #12 Tommy Anselmo
Incoming impact players:
QB/WR Robbie Anselmo
Written by: Will Hoenike
More than a couple people have suggested to IdahoSports.com that the 3A Intermountain League, which has belonged to Timberlake for many years, could be much tighter this season. While many mention Bonners Ferry, who reached the 3A state playoffs last season, as Timberlake’s challenger, there’s a group of athletes just down the river from Lake Pend Orielle who shouldn’t be overlooked.
Shane Douglas’s Priest River Spartans.
The Spartans are coming off of a one-win campaign, but have a solid senior class back for the 2016 campaign, led by quarterback Anthony Storro and running back/linebacker Tommy Anselmo. Storro, the field general, has seen time under center for the Spartans since he was a freshman. On top of that, the senior spent part of his summer upgrading the school’s bleachers with classmate Thomas Luckey to help make the game-night experience better for Spartan fans.
Anselmo should also make the game-night experience better, coming off a season where he averaged more than 15 tackles per game from his middle linebacker spot. He also got it done on offense as a junior, including a 203-yard, three-score performance in a Spartan win over Libby (MT) as he was named first-team All-Intermountain League as both a linebacker and a running back.
“Both our QB (Storro) and tailback (Anselmo) are great athletes with speed and quickness,” Douglas said of his two big weapons. “We are a spread-style offense so athleticism is the key to us being successful.”
Another big key is the offensive line – operative word being, “big.” Check and check for Priest River. Returning All-IML lineman Joshua Coombs (6’0”, 205 pounds) leads the way along with Dylan Patterson (6’4”, 265 pounds), Sammy Hernandez (6’1”, 315 pounds) and Derrick Melton (6’1”, 265 pounds), giving Douglas a lot of experience and a lot of size up front. That size and experience, along with the playmaking ability of Storro, Anselmo receiver Noah Jamison and tight end Collin Dietrick should lead to a vastly-improved offense, production-wise, over the group that averaged a just over 14 points per game last season.
“In general, just having some returning players that understand our system and being senior leaders will help us perform better as a team.” Douglas told the Preview.
The same goes for defense, where the Spartans gave up over 30 points per game. Anselmo at middle linebacker behind that big group of linemen – all with another year’s experience – should lead to improvement.
“Run defense must improve to compete in our league,” Douglas observed. “And state-wide.”
Ah yes, the league. The Intermountain League hasn’t been very friendly to anyone not named “Timberlake” in the past several years. And the Tigers come to Priest River on October 14.
“They (Timberlake) have been dominant in our league for a long time,” Douglas said. “And we always want to test our abilities against them.”
But it will take more than one win in IML play to punch a ticket for the postseason. Kellogg (home, October 7) and Bonners Ferry (on the road, October 21) also loom as big tests for the Spartans.
“Our team motto is ‘get better every day,’” Douglas concluded. “We must be disciplined and try to play as close as possible to mistake-free football.”
There’s plenty of reason for optimism at Priest River. Get better, be disciplined, limit mistakes … and have a shot to compete for a conference title.