Potlatch High School
Conference: 1AD1 Whitepine League
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Cliff Dudley
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 4 Season as Junior High Head Coach
Record Last Year: 1-8
State Titles: None
RB Bailey Clark (Sr)
FB Chris Hamburg (Jr)
C/DT Tristan Dudley (Sr)
Returning Players with Honors:
Dudley (Honorable Mention, All-White Pine League)
Key Players lost from last year:
WR Cole Thompson
Photo By: Jason Duchow - #26 Bailey Clark
Incoming impact players:
WR Connor Akins (Soph)
DE Seth Carnahan (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
Small-school coaches have to be patient. They usually know what they have coming, player-wise, and can usually see the big seasons and the lulls coming.
Take the 1A Division 1 Potlatch Loggers for example. The last couple of seasons have not been a lot of fun in the win-loss column for the Loggers but let’s not forget – from 2009 to 2012, the Loggers won 26 football games and lost just 11, including two eight-win seasons.
Second-year head coach Cliff Dudley is looking to get the ball rolling again for the Loggers. He spent four seasons coaching the school district’s junior high teams so, as mentioned above, he knows exactly what is headed his way. And, to get the good mojo going again, he’s going to look to three players – senior C/DT Tristan Dudley, senior RB Bailey Clark and junior RB Chris Hamburg.
Dudley (Tristan’s father) says there’s no set “starting quarterback” going into the season, rather a handful of hopefuls who will battle it out in fall camp leading up to the team’s opener at Deary on August 25. Thus, the importance of Dudley, a veteran presence on the offensive line, Clark and Hamburg.
Clark served as the team’s quarterback last season but Dudley says he’ll move to running back this fall. As a junior, Clark rushed and passed for over 1,000 yards and Hamburg added 1,000 yards on the ground as well. That gives Dudley and his staff a powerful one-two punch in the backfield going into the season.
“We have two returning backs that bring a ton of experience to our backfield,” Dudley told IdahoSports.com. “We have to improve up front. We need to be quicker off the ball, stay in our blocks and get to the secondary.”
For the most part, scoring wasn’t a huge issue for Potlatch last season. The Loggers scored 210 points in eight games, an average of over 26 per game. It included a 60-point game and a 32-point game. Where the Loggers struggled last season was defensively, holding just one opponent under 50 points.
“We have a young defensive core returning this season that is hungry and utilizing the experience from last year and improving their technique,” Dudley continued.
Dudley (Tristan) will lead the way defensively from his nose guard position. He’ll have help up front from junior defensive end Seth Carnahan as the Loggers look to lead a revamped defense that will focus on an aggressive, attacking style.
The team attended an 8-man football camp in Riggins, hosted by defending 1A Division 2 state champion Salmon River, during the summer and Dudley liked what he saw. And he is definitely excited to see what the 2017 season brings.
“Seeing how far this young team has grown and matured from last season,” Dudley said when asked what he was most-looking forward to this fall. “How they handled defeat and what they are willing to do to get better together.”
Dudley has been happy with the way his team has worked on the field and in the weight room over the summer. Now it’s time to put the work to the test. After opening on the road against a good 1AD2 Mustangs team, Potlatch returns home for what should be a great White Pine measuring stick for the program when it hosts the defending league champion, Lapwai. The Wildcats lost some key players from last season but return plenty of talent this fall, so Dudley should know a lot about his group by the end of week two.
Genesee and Kamiah also come to Potlatch this fall as the team doesn’t have any prolonged runs of home or road games in the oh-so-difficult White Pine League.
If the team’s young defense and lines can grow the way Dudley anticipates, it could be a solid bounce-back season for the Loggers with Clark and Hamburg ready to lead the offense. The pendulum appears set to swing back up in Potlatch, it merely seems to be a matter of how quickly it swings.