Sandpoint High School
Conference: 4A Inland Empire League
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Head Coach: George Yarno Jr.
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 5 seasons assistant at Highland HS
2 seasons assistant at Coronado (NV) HS
Record Last Year: 4-6
State Titles: 1997
Steve Miller (LB/Def Coord)
Vince Huntsberger (DB)
Sean Lyon (DL)
Quentin Ducken (OL)
Al Beard (WR)
Chad Loutzenhiser (RB)
QB Robbie Johnson (Sr)
OL Trey Flint (Sr)
OL Alex Christensen (Sr)
OL Tyrone Larson (Sr)
WR Julian Barajas (Sr)
WR TJ Davis (Sr)
WR Alex Stockton (Sr)
DL Hayden Emerson (Jr)
DL Hunter Donahoe (Sr)
DL Chris Jones (Sr)
LB Payton Cox (Jr)
Returning Players with Honors:
QB Johnson (1st Team All-IEL)
LB Cox (1st Team All-IEL)
DL Hayden Emerson (1st Team All-IEL)
Key Players lost from last year:
LB Walker Jacobson
OL Andrew Gieff
DL Zach Alamillo
DL Brock Browning
RB Levi Irish
WR Taren McLaughlin
DB Clayton Fournier
DB Nick Holland
Photo By: Jason Duchow - #14 Robbie Johnson
Incoming impact players:
RB Dillon Mutton (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
Obviously, the first seven games matter. That’s why you put on the jersey, line the fields and go out there. But when you’re a member of the 4A Inland Empire League – which features just three teams – it’s all a prologue to games eight and nine.
For the Sandpoint Bulldogs, those are the two IEL league matchups at home against Lakeland on October 13 and at Moscow on October 20.
“Lakeland and Moscow are league games and, therefore, are must-sees,” second-year head coach George Yarno told IdahoSports.com. “They will determine our playoff opportunity.”
That’s also part of what makes the IEL so difficult to judge once playoff time rolls around. An example: Sandpoint will play two teams from the neighboring Greater Spokane League (University and Mount Spokane), a team from Canada (Raymond, AB) and a team from central Washington (Eastmont). The other three non-league games for the Bulldogs? All members of the 5A Inland Empire League (Lewiston, Lake City and Post Falls). The schedule can make it tough for opposing coaches to get a good read on 4A IEL teams.
So let us help you: Sandpoint returns a dual-threat, all-conference quarterback (senior Robbie Johnson) with three returning starters along the offensive line (seniors Trey Flint, Tyrone Larson and Alex Christensen) and three prime pass-catching targets (seniors Julian Barajas and TJ Davis along with junior Alex Stockton).
We can’t tell you tendencies, snap counts or formation tips, but we can tell you this – the Bulldogs should be able to move the ball well in 2017.
“We are excited about our big-play capability on offense,” Yarno said.
The coaching staff is looking to continue to grow the running game behind the trio of returning linemen. Johnson’s ability to make plays with his arm and his feet will be a big part of that, along with the emergence of junior Dillon Mitton at running back along with Jacob Cometto. An effective and consistent ground attack should only serve to benefit the passing attack, with Johnson delivering passes to Barajas, Davis, Stockton and Austin Green.
“The offense is expanded,” Yarno continued. “(We) will have much opportunity to get the ball in the hands of playmakers.”
The Bulldogs topped 40 points three times last season – the pieces seem to be in place for that number to go up this season.
The Sandpoint defense doesn’t return as many starters as the offense does, but defensive coordinator Steve Miller does have three returning starters along the defensive front as well as all-IEL linebacker Payton Cox to start things.
“Our strength on defense is definitely our front,” Yarno stated. “We have experience and size on the defensive line which will help us stop the run and pressure the quarterback.”
The returning trio up front are junior defensive lineman Hayden Emerson along with seniors Hunter Donahoe and Chris Jones. It creates a solid nucleus for a defense that held five opponents to 22 points or less in 2016, including both Lakeland and Moscow. If the defensive line can win battles up front and free up Cox to chase ball carriers, good things could be on the horizon for the Bulldogs this fall.
The Bulldogs still have to get it done on the field which, by the way, will have a shiny, new look this fall. War Memorial Field at Barlow Stadium, Sandpoint’s home, is set to debut a brand-new grandstand this fall. One of the finest settings in all of Idaho high school football will be home to four consecutive home games from mid-September to mid-October leading up to the season-ending IEL clash in Moscow.
If the offense clicks and the defense can stop the run, as coaches hope, there may be home football in Sandpoint in November, too.