Oakley High School
Conference: 1AD1 Snake River Conference
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Kade Craner
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: 10 Years at Oakley
Record Last Year: 9-3
State Titles: 1985, 2007, 2009
Jake Nyman, OL/DL, 12
Sam Mitton, RB/LB, 12
Austin Bedke, RB/LB, 11
Tate Cranney, QB/DB, 11
Chandler Jones, WR/DB, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Jake Nyman, All-Conference OL and All-State OL
Austin Bedke, All-Conference LB and All-State LB
Key Players lost from last year:
Every senior on the roster
Photo By: Steve Conner - #2 Tate Cranney
Written by: Sven Alskog
It may not be flashy for the Oakley Hornets on a yearly basis, but one thing you can bet is that the Hornets will stick to their game plan on a weekly basis and play their brand of football.
A highly esteemed senior class has departed for Oakley, leaving a great opportunity for players on both ends of the field to step into larger roles for a team that hopes to remain competitive in a wide-open 1AD1 Snake River Conference.
On the front line All-Conference Honoree Jake Nyman is back to create holes to run through.
Sam Mitton and Austin Bedke will have the duties of running behind him and the rest of the line for the Hornets, with the duo giving Head Coach Kade Craner plenty of optimism.
“We have always been a ground and pound team and with Austin Bedke, Sam Mitton, Daxton Gillette and Josh Nyman we can still do that behind a line led by Jake Nyman.”
But it’s not just the run game that defenses have to worry about this season.
“We are excited about the possibilities we have of throwing the football after turning the reigns over last year to sophomore Tate Cranney and seeing the results,” said Craner. “The receiving core will get a boost from Chandler Jones, who as a freshman last year started in the state title game for us.”
In that state title affair with Raft River, the Hornets fell 46-18, leaving the returners hungry to get back onto the big stage.
As a scheduling note, both those teams will square off with each other twice this season, with the September 1 battle at Raft River not counting towards conference standings.
Craner and the Oakley fans are excited for those matchups for obvious reasons.
“They are the state champs, longtime rivals with an excellent program. Our kids know and see each other all the time. It is always good to see where you measure up to.”
Slowing down the Trojans was difficult due in large part due to the Hitt duo, which fortunately enough for everyone else in the conference will be the last time it’s a concern, as Kayden and Kolten have both graduated.
But for the Hornets, they know in order to take the next step it has to start on the defensive end.
“Our pass coverage at times wasn’t good. We are looking to shore that up scheme-wise and put those kids in a better position,” said Craner.
Speed shouldn’t be a problem.
“We will be deep and faster than we have been in the past to the football. We have a lot of kids who have played various positions as underclassmen at the varsity level, so our knowledge of the scheme we are trying to run should be at a high level.”
While a talented senior class has exited, don’t expect the Hornets to fall too far, as the players who do return earned valuable playing time and experience during a run to a state runner-up finish last season, something that has far greater value than may meet the eye.
It also helps that the chemistry on the team is as strong as ever.
“We have a great group of kids that have been playing together for a while with good success. The combination of upperclassmen and the young kids coming in has been great. We learned a lot of important lessons last season that were driven home, both good and bad,” added Craner.
In a conference with as many talented student-athletes and quality coaches as the Snake River Conference has, reaching the top is a tall task. Expect the trio of Raft River, Valley and Oakley to again be at or near the top of the conference, with one or two additional teams having sleeper potential.
“Our conference is tough with many good programs and coaches,” said Craner. “The focus has to be week-to-week and you need a lot of things to go right.”